Tag Archives: Facebook

The Troll and I

The Troll and I

Once upon a time there were three goats and a troll. Remember this fairy tale, The Three Billy Goats Gruff?

The story goes like this. The little goats are minding their own business, grazing on luscious Norwegian grass. When their supply is depleted, they must cross a bridge to get to the abundant meadow on the other side.

Underneath the bridge lurks a nasty troll who threatens to devour anyone crossing over. This time, however, he is outwitted by a formidable foe. Blessed with street smarts, the goats are able to talk their way out of being eaten. The troll grumbles to himself and slithers back to his subterranean real estate, where he lives a sad and solitary existence for the rest of his days.

In modern day parlance, a troll is something different. Equally odious, yes, but instead of living underneath a bridge, the Internet troll stalks selected people or groups online and attempts to be disruptive.

From Wikipedia:

In Internet slang, a troll  is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion,[3] often for their own amusement.

Who’s got a troll? I’ve got a troll.

My troll first appeared on Twitter a few years ago. She followed me and after I read her profile I followed her back. Since we shared certain similarities (we were writers, roughly the same age, adult children) I didn’t hesitate, although it seemed  unusual that I didn’t “know” her through other social media. Nonetheless, our occasional Twitter exchanges were normal.

But then I noticed that she was commenting on just about every one of my tweets.

At first it was just annoying. But then it began to get weird. She did the Twitter equivalent of photo bombing, inserting herself into conversations I was having with other people. Her comments became personal, nasty and critical.

Totally creeped out, I blocked her. Good riddance.

Trolling Along

Several months ago someone new started to pop up in the Comments section on my blog. The commenter was highly critical of my work, pointing out what she perceived to be numerous errors and poor writing. Weirdly, she referenced specific passages from posts I had written years ago.

She has read everything I have written online, I realized.

Ignore her and block her, was the advice from my blogging friends. That is what I did. I also inserted a new paragraph on my About Me page with my terms of engagement. In essence, be civil and kind, or get out of my house.

But last week she was back. She kept her name (a pseudonym, I am certain) but changed her email address slightly. I stared at her comment, again, her disapproval of my writing. Like all her comments, it was dripping in sarcasm.

This time I contacted my website host and, through the miracle of technology, the host was able to give me her identity. The blog troll and the Twitter troll are one and the same.

According to an article in Psychology Today, Internet trolls are narcissists, sadists and psychopaths. Many would agree with that assessment, especially those of us directly harassed by one. It may or may not be true of the woman who is trolling me, but at the very least she has an unhealthy obsession with me and has nothing better to do with her time than stalk me … and likely others as well.

As the pieces fell into place, I realized it was also this person who left a couple of mean comments about me on another site that had interviewed me for a profile piece. She Googled my family to get more information and mentioned that in her comment.

Hello, Troll

She is undoubtedly reading this post, so I will speak directly to her:

I know who you are. I feel sorry for you and your obsession with me. We will never be friends, and I will keep blocking you from my site every time you muscle your way in.

My three words of advice for you: Get. A. Life.

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We Adopted a Puppy, Part Two

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

So far, 2016 has been The Year of the Puppy.

Our family is growing.

Last month we welcomed a puppy, Max, to our household. This is Max.

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

Isn’t he the cutest?

We thought our empty canine nest was full, but once again, Fate intervened. Last week, waiting for the snow storm to arrive, I happened to come upon these photos posted on Facebook …

… with this message:

We are looking for a FOREVER home for sweet Wyatt. A home where he will have unconditional love and care, patience and training, and where he will eventually grow old. If you are looking to adopt a great puppy and willing to help him grow into a wonderful dog then please message me.

His introduction to life hasn’t been easy. He was seized for cruelty. His previous owner tried to beat him to death. While he was only a tiny puppy, she hung him and broke several of his ribs. After suffering all of this abuse, he greets the world with only love. He is truly an amazing dog. He gets along well with other dogs, he is interested in (but gentle with) cats, and he loves to be snuggled by humans and other fur creatures alike. He listens well and is highly motivated by treats. At this young age, he is both potty and crate trained – he would absolutely thrive after a basic canine manners training class. He really loves people.

The foster mother added that the four month-old puppy was a pit bull/terrier mix.

I will admit to a longstanding distrust of pit bulls. Not that I have had any experience with them, mind you. It was their reputation that preceded them. I bought into that completely.

I felt sorry for them, because I know they are often unwanted and ill regarded. But I never considered adopting one.

But … these photos. So adorable! And the description of Wyatt, well, it tugged at my heart. All of a sudden, I imagined that a second puppy in the house might be a good thing.

This puppy.

I remembered how we found our beloved dog, Duncan, who passed away after 10 wonderful years with us. I had seen his photo and description on an adoption website and fell in love. He was also being fostered by a caring family, as Wyatt was, a family that wanted to keep him but didn’t have the room for another dog. We brought him home with us right then and there.

It was one of the best decisions we ever made.

And now, looking at pictures of Wyatt, I tried to picture him in our family. I knew that we could provide a safe and loving home for him. We would have a playmate for Max, he of the indefatigable energy.

Maybe it is time to debunk this stereotype, I thought. The stereotype of the vicious pit bull. Let’s meet Wyatt and see.

The next day Wyatt’s foster parents brought him to our house.

He ran right over to us and wagged his tail.  It was instant love. How could you not? He’s got polka dots on his ears!

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

As you’ve guessed, the rest is history.

Wyatt is everything his foster mother had said: docile, friendly and charming. He is the best cuddler ever. He is sweet to our cat, Lexie, and is a wonderful playmate for Max, amenable to playing or napping or chewing toys, whatever Max chooses.

We Adopted a Puppy Part Two

Will a second dog be more work? Undoubtedly. But in no time at all, Wyatt has proved himself to be an adaptable, polite new resident. He asks for little but gives so much in return. He fits into our lives, the rhythms of our home, perfectly.

I always said that Duncan thanked us every day of his life.  Perhaps I’m attributing human traits to animals, but Duncan was a very smart dog.

Maybe all our pets are grateful for forever homes. Some just show it more than others.

 

I’ve seen a bumper sticker that says “Who rescued whom?”

In this case, it’s hard to say.

 

#MidLifeLuv Linky
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Is Sharenting Harming Our Kids?

As a parent whose children came of age prior to the social media boom, I often congratulate my husband and myself on our impeccable timing.

We lucked out. Of all the stresses inherent in child rearing, certainly the use and abuse of social media is high on the list.

I mean the parents’ use and abuse.

Here’s the question I ponder sometimes. If I had been able to share information about my young children on social media, would I have?

Of course, is my answer.

Might I have been one of those parents guilty of a little too much “sharenting?”

Entirely possible.

Sharenting?

Sharenting is a recently coined term referring to parents who share information about their kids on social media and is mentioned in this report from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Based on a survey of 569 parents with a child or children ages 0-4, the study found that 54% mothers and 34% of fathers discuss child health and parenting issues on social media.

What do they discuss? Sleep issues, nutrition and eating tips, discipline, daycare and preschool, and behavior problems, among others.

So, what’s the big deal about parents reaching out to others to seek advice and support? What’s so bad about wanting to share a questionable photo on occasion? Maybe, after a long day in the trenches, parents need to vent. Or share a laugh.

Totally get that.

As a young mom, I would have enjoyed chronicling the special moments of my three kids on Facebook. Bath time, for instance, or losing a tooth, or blowing out birthday candles. I would have found comfort in a community of parents with similar issues and concerns. If I was in search of advice, or I needed to share a chuckle, why not blog about it, or post on Facebook?

Harmless enough. But what issues? What about tantrums? Or potty training? Sibling rivalry? Meltdowns after school?

That’s where the sharenting line in the sand is blurred. Where should that line be drawn, especially when your kids are too little to have a say in the matter? And even if you get their permission, what does a four year-old know about the implications of sharing personal information on social media?

Is Sharenting Harming Our Kids?

What seems benign now could be a psychological tsunami someday, with aftershocks for years to come We parents are essentially imprinting our kids’ digital footprint in the sands of time without their consent, with no understanding of the potential ramifications down the road.

Preserving memories, or obsessive behavior?

I have seen photos that make me squirm, like a photo of a child pale and glassy-eyed with the flu. I have seen children with frozen smiles whose parents seem to document every bit of their daily activity. Are we forcing our kids to pose instead of just be in the moment?

Photos can be deleted. Not so easy, however, to remove blog posts and Facebook conversations about bed wetting and bullying and discipline issues at school. Does that set our kids up for ridicule? Even if their names aren’t used, I mean, all you have to do is Google the parent’s name and there it is. It is there. Will this come back to haunt not us, but our kids?

I don’t have the answer.

In its early days, social media was a fun game with few rules and boundaries. Now we know that there is a dark side. With that in mind, is it incumbent on us parents to err on the side of safety and keep our kids’ information off the Internet as much as possible, until they have the maturity to make these decisions themselves?

Or is it too late, and our children’s digital profiles are but a Google search away?

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My Facebook Love is Gone

My Facebook love is gone.

There. I’ve said it out loud.

Like a failed romance — one that has withered over time — my relationship with Facebook has gradually become dispassionate and tinged with angst. I’ve been in denial, but I’m coming clean.

The light bulb went off when I saw this post from the SITS Girls:How to Avoid Facebook Burnout” was the title of the post.

Right then, things crystallized like a blurry photo fixed with a photo editing app. The latent anger, the ennui. It all added up.

There is a name for what I’ve got.

Facebook burnout.

My Facebook Love is Gone

This may surprise many of you who see me on Facebook a lot. Like all the time. Like I know I tend to be an over-sharer.

And maybe you haven’t noticed that I’ve been sharing a little bit less. It might not be obvious. But I haven’t been a happy Facebook camper lately and I’ve kept a little distance.

My reasons have nothing to do with jealousy or threats to my self-esteem, which seem to be the source of burnout for others. No, in this crazy world I love hearing about good things. Even if they are sometimes hard to believe overblown.

I have been a Facebook user (and user/addict is an appropriate term for it) for so long that when I first joined it was just available to emails with an .edu address (college and university emails, and since I worked at a university, I was able to snag one). It was fun learning how to use this social media tool. Then it was fun when increasing numbers of friends and family joined. Then it was fun when my blogging and writing communities blossomed on Facebook.

I started my Books is Wonderful blog page, and that was fun.

And then I followed threads where everyone liked each other’s pages, and that was … you guessed it … fun. My numbers grew and I found new and interesting blogs to follow.

But sometime last year, Facebook decided that roughly 10-15% of my Books is Wonderful followers should get to see my blog posts in their stream. Why? Apparently because I’m not paying to boost those posts. So now most of my Facebook page followers never see my blog posts. The posts they elected to see.

My Facebook Love is Gone

And last week I got thrown in Facebook jail. What was my crime? I “liked” too many pages at one time. Baaaad girl, admonished Facebook. My sentence is a restriction from “liking” any more pages for a week. And all the pages I “liked” in the last 30 days have been erased.

So our love affair has fizzled, Facebook. The bloom is off the rose. I would like there to be no hard feelings. I would like to stay friends. But you’re making it hard.

And you’ve got some competition out there. No, they haven’t caught up with you. Not yet.

But where there is discontent, there is opportunity. If you don’t treat your guests with respect, they may just find another place to call home.

Just saying.

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12 Reasons for Having Online Friends

“Online friends? You mean you’ve never actually met them?”

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I often find myself on the defensive when I talk about online friends to real life friends (IRL). Ranging from the raised eyebrow to a gasp of incredulity, reactions from friends IRL have been, well, skeptical. “And you know these people how?” is commonly asked. “But how do you know they are who they say they are?” others will query.

Sometimes you’ve got to take a leap.

Case in point. I just returned from a truly amazing trip to London with my dear friend Lois, whom I met in a Facebook blogging group almost two years ago (more on the London trip when I recover from jet lag).

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

Our paths most likely would never have crossed if not for this online connection, and since becoming friends, we’ve seen each other many times IRL.

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

Other friendships that started in the online blogging community have blossomed into treasured IRL relationships. I am lucky that friends such as Cathy Chester and Estelle Sobel Erasmus live within a couple of hours from me and we get to see each other throughout the year.

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

For those who fear that online friends are akin to stalkers or potential axe murderers (and no one yet has turned out to be either) here are a few of the reasons why I value my cyber buddies — and why it’s good to keep an open mind.

Getting together is effortless.

You know how you make a lunch date with a friend IRL and it gets rescheduled once or twice or maybe gets shelved indefinitely? Weather issues, last minute work constraints, other interruptions come up. Whereas online, having a lunch date is a piece of cake.

They share your addiction to social media.

In essence, they speak your language. You can mention the merits of Google+ or how to maximize SEO or the best time to retweet a post and they get it.

You get lots of birthday wishes.

Admit it, this is cool. Even though we all know that without the Facebook reminder it wouldn’t happen.

They don’t have to live in your neighborhood. Or even your time zone.

It’s the middle of the night. I’m tossing and turning, and finally give in to my wide awake self. I go downstairs, make a pot of coffee and get online where I know there will be someone to talk to, maybe clear across the world.

No one forgets where the conversation left off.

It doesn’t take much to lose a train of thought in real life discourse. An interruption as minor as a phone call can veer you off course. Ummm, where were we? Online chats will seamlessly steer you back on track.

There’s always something new to learn.

Some years ago, I had a Facebook conversation with a childhood friend who became well known in tech circles. I was curious about how he had become so savvy. He told me that he picked up everything through his relationships with knowledgeable tech people online. I now understand that, for that is exactly how I have picked up most of what I know on social media.

Live tweeting an event with online friends is really fun.

Only my online friends understand the sheer joy of participating in a live tweet. Whether it’s Election Day or a March Madness basketball game, or goofy reality shows, yukking it up with millions of other viewers is often the best part of the event.

The smartest people are online.

Whether it’s technical know-how, or cutting edge political analysis, or awesome recipes, online friends are my go-to source.

When you need it right now, you can get sympathy, appreciation and good advice.

There’s nothing like a virtual hug when you’re feeling down … or elated. Can’t reach a friend IRL to share the good news? Go online for that instant gratification.

It’s come as you are, 24/7.

Even though I had never been to one, I was always intrigued by the idea of a “Come as You Are” party. The Internet is just one big “Come as You Are” party all day, every day. Jammies, unwashed hair, no makeup … and no one is the wiser.

When you haven’t posted in a couple of hours, they think something must be wrong.

If I fell off the face of the earth, my friends IRL may not know until the body is discovered. Online friends would wonder where I was if I happened to sleep in one day.

If you’re bored with the conversation, you can just walk away.

I find it very hard to extricate myself from the nattering of a long-winded person IRL. The beauty of online relationships? You can sign off. Or even better, just pretend you’ve gone and lurk.

I adore and cherish my friends IRL. But I’ve also got a world of online friends. Who mean the world to me.

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

How about you? Do you have online friendships?

 

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I See Dead People

What a macabre subject to grace a blog that normally leans toward the lighthearted. But where else than here would I feel unencumbered by convention or political correctness to talk about a delicate subject that’s on my mind?

So here goes. And I truly mean no disrespect.

I see dead people.

It doesn’t happen every day, just now and then. If you’re on social media, surely this has happened to you, too.

Let me explain.

I’ve been an active Facebook user since early 2007. Now, seven years later, who isn’t on Facebook?  For better or worse, this is how most of us stay connected these days.

And reading Facebook updates is part of my morning routine while I drink my first cup of coffee and watch Good Morning America at low volume.

I’m pretty efficient. I can usually catch up with the latest before the 7:30 a.m. commercial break.

I quickly scroll through the “Which Character from The Simpsons Are You?” (never watched it) and the “Like if Your Sister is Awesome” (I have no sisters) and “Copy and Paste to See Who Really Cares About You” (I don’t care) to get to the important stuff. I wander over to my Books is Wonderful  page to check on the activity there.

In the right column is a box with a header entitled “Invite Friends.” At the top of the list is a particular friend.

I haven’t seen much of this friend as of late. That is because this particular friend, actually this late particular friend, has, um, departed.

Not just logged out of Facebook. Logged out, period.

I never did get to invite her to “like” my page. And if I invited her now, I doubt she would accept.

Herein lies one of the curiosities of our new technology. There’s another universe now, thanks to social media, somewhere between Here on Earth and The Sweet Hereafter. We’re not really gone when we die. Our profile picture lives on in the cloud, popping up willy nilly as if nothing has changed.

I See Dead People

Here’s another example.

Facebook told me that John ‘likes” Amazon Prime. This gave me pause, because I doubt that John qualifies for free shipping at his new address.

And one more.

Under an ad for Birdseye Vegetables I see that Bob “likes” it. Whether this was true or just lip service from Bob I’ll never know, but I bet Bob is way happier with manna from heaven than frozen lima beans.

I See Dead People

Some may find it creepy, but I kind of enjoy bumping into these departed friends as they go about liking Ikea and American Express and waiting for me to invite them to ‘like” my page. I can pretend that they’re still around. Sort of.

How do you feel?

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