The Power of Social Media

Make friends in Minutes.

When I was a kid, I had penpals. The kind you had to actually use a pen to write to. Then, you’d send the letter off, and a few weeks later, you’d get a letter back. Sometimes I miss the days of real letters.

I’m also very grateful for new technology. If it wasn’t for Facebook and feeling like I’m still a part of the lives of my friends back in Australia, I think I’d be a lot more homesick. I love that I can read the Australian newspaper everyday and I love that there’s an app for the 2DayFM radio station so I can listen to Aussie accents here. I enjoy watching the Aussie news over the internet, even if it is in small 3 minute blocks.

When I’m having a bad day, I can email someone and get a response back and feel better in minutes. When Corey Feldman did his interview, it brought back a lot of memories and some heavy emotions. Then I got an email from another child actress. She had famously gone public in the US and pissed a lot of people off. She had been following my case in the media, and another friend on FB put us in touch with each other.  She wrote me a couple emails and put everything very matter of factly. In the first email she talked about the balance of power in assault cases. She called it “sexual abuse vs fame public reaction mathematical algorithm” The public’s belief in and support of a victim of rape/sexual abuse is directly proportional to the fame and “likeability” of the victim, and inversely proportional to the fame and “likability” of the perpetrator. In other words, when a victim goes public with her story the response she receives will have nothing to do with the severity of the rape, number of occurrences or age at when the crime occurred. It will be based solely on her fame/power vs the fame/power of her perpetrator. She had several examples, and it was kind of a downer, because I’m not the famous/rich one in this case….

Her second email however was like a revelation and has helped me tremendously. Also: Something to remember – that I had to learn – is that the apprehension, conviction and incarceration of your perpetrator is NOT actually YOUR responsibility. It is the responsibility of law enforcement.

But remember, when people attack you for speaking out: any trouble the bastard is in, is entirely HIS doing. You didn’t “get him in trouble” – HE DID when he started assaulting children.

By the same token, when those on your side harass you to do more, you are not on call to “put him in jail”.  You called the cops, it’s THEIR job to put him in jail.

This was the most empowering thing anyone has ever told me. It lifted the weight off me. She was right. I had done my duty and told the police. I gave them my statement. I invited them into my home in Texas and continued the investigation here. When they email me or call, I answer them the best I can. A lot of people may not agree with the way the investigation started, but it was MY journey, not theirs.

I have been laying low in Texas since the investigation started, because I was told I should. It was “duty” to go crawl back under a rock till it was over. I had to make sure there was a conviction. If I didn’t stay quiet, it was my fault if the case for the other girls didn’t pan out.

I’m sorry, but it’s NOT my responsibility. I will do my best to help the police in any way I can, but I’m not going to stop posting on my blog, or be social on twitter, or talk to people on FB, or have conversations with people in real life just because there’s an investigation underway. I don’t know how long it could take. Nobody does, and people can’t realistically expect me to withdraw for years if it drags out that long. As long as I’m not talking about the investigation, there’s no reason I can’t also be an active member of social media.

Meanwhile, in the twitterverse, I think we’ve all been following what’s happening with Andy. His blog is now down off the internet, and he’s currently hiding hoping things will blow over. I’ve been amused that people have been so upset that I was quoted in the Sun as having laughed when I saw Andy in there. With the way Andy dishes on others, he has to expect that people give it back. And apparently he does. I got this PM from him this morning after someone called me a “nasty piece of work” on Twitter.

I’ve had some really interesting conversations with people over the last few days thanks to Social Media. It’s nice to be able to communicate instantly with people all over the world, instead of waiting till it’s already old news. That being said, I would still caution people to be careful what they say on the Internet. It’s easy to take things out of context. Sarcasm doesn’t convey well in 140 characters. You can still be taken out of context. Private doesn’t really mean private. Andy used to love grabbing screenshots on my PM’s to him, as I have done above. But, it also lets you communicate instantly and be able to check in on someone and make sure they’re OK.


Social Media v’s Political Correctness

If you can’t be a good example, you’ll have to be a horrible warning.

I know what it’s like to be in the media. After going public last year, I really know what it’s like to be in the media. I know what it’s like to have every thing you say dissected, questioned, checked over and then be re-quoted incorrectly.

There’s thousands of pages on forums and blogs with people talking about what I did last year. A lot of them aren’t nice. If you have a few hours of your life to waste, drudge through the 100+ pages on the Whirlpool site. Do a Google search on me or the Hey Dad Scandal and then click blogs or discussions. It’s amazing at how many sites there are. Some of them are very supportive of me, some of them are downright scary. Like a site for expecting mothers who all call me a publicity whore. I hope their babies never come to them looking for help…. Then of course, there’s Andy Blume.

Now, at first look, Andy really is a professional c*nt, as he puts it. The first time I found his site in April of last year, as I was in the middle of the media circus, I couldn’t believe what he wrote about me. Then, as things settled down, I read through the rest of his site, to see what kind of troll he was. To be honest, a lot of Andy’s posts made me laugh, as they do a lot of other people. Andy says what a lot of people think, but don’t have the balls to say. Sure, he’s rude. Yes, he’s tasteless. But 10 years ago when I left Australia, being Politically Correct wasn’t in full swing yet. People could still take the piss out of themselves. My favourite are when he writes letters to big companies complaining of their terrible service or products. I never know if he really sends off what he’s written on the blog, or a toned down version of it, but a lot of us wish that’s what we could say. It’s what we tell our friends. It’s what we’re thinking as we write the polite version. So, after about 6 months, I forgave Andy. I understood his posts about me were part of his online character. If he had said something nice about me, people would have said, WTF Andy? We tweeted back and forth and when I did the one year update on ACA, he actually sent me a message warning me he was now going to have to do another post. I was prepared for it. It was actually pretty tame. Some of his friends made fun he had gone soft….

I’ve been working in SEO and Social Media for a few years now. Maybe it’s because I get to read so many white papers and sites on What Not To Do in Social Media and how to not lose your job with what you post on Twitter, but I thought everyone understood that what you do online affects what happens to you in real life. Employers are now looking at what you post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites before they hire you. What you do online can get you fired. Maybe it’s not fair and maybe it’s not catching on that fast in Australia, but in the US, many companies will give you a fact sheet on “appropriate use” of social media, and give regular reminders throughout the year. Lots of people here are laid off because of something they did online.

You don’t have to be tweeting at work. You don’t have to say anything bad about your employer. But, if you post pictures of your late night binge at some club and then call in sick the next day saying you have the flu, expect someone might see it and you’re going to get called on it.

Back in the day, there was a lot more anonymity on the internet. Today, it’s all open. A lot of young people don’t realize that what they post now will come back to haunt them. The best phrase I ever heard was “Once tweeted, never deleted” because even if you delete it off your stream, it’s cached somewhere for someone to find. You don’t even have to post something, one of your buddies could do it and tag you. Or, you could post something anonymously, but through the powers of IP tracking, the IT gurus can still work out it’s you.

Pictures on FB are held on a server for over 6 months, even if you delete them. Pick a photo, copy the URL of that page, then delete the pic. A month later, go back to that URL… Your pic is still there. Also, a lot more people have access to your private pages, and even private messages than you think. I know the police have been reading my private messages. Basically, never say anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want on a postcard or displayed on a billboard.

I’m conflicted on the Andy Blume situation. At first I thought it was funny he got caught out. But I also felt bad for him. I try not to harbor resentment against anyone and I made my peace with Andy and his blog posts about me last year. I think he should have known better than to tweet while tramming, but he was called up on it a month ago and had stopped. I give him credit for using his real name on the Internet instead of hiding behind some fake alias to be such a huge douchebag. It’s a sign of how politically correct Australia has become when you can’t just have a laugh and move on, but instead have to get offended over every little thing. All of us have done something that someone else would think makes us a horrible person. ALL OF US. Before we judge others and hate upon them, we should think about ourselves and what we’ve done in life that others might not approve of. (You know, that whole glass houses thing)

I’m sure Andy will be OK. Someone will probably offer him a job on TV…. but it’s got to suck being fired in this economy.

At this point, I’m not sure if everyone will see Andy as a warning not to tweet about their jobs and make sure they’re always PC, or if this will make people go back to having anonymous avatars and fake names. Frankly, I’m not sure which of the two is worse.

Good luck Andy. I hope you find a new job. Just remember, people are watching you now….