Perception and Reality in the Social Media Age

Maybe I should have titled this post Misperception and Reality, but I will just keep the post title as it is for now.

I am old enough to remember what the world was like before the internet, before the world wide web, before e-mail, before blogs and social networks, etc. Overall, I think this information technology has been a great advance for mankind and I could not not envision going back to a world without it. However, I am sometimes dismayed by the variety of ways the internet can be used by individuals with less than good intentions to damage or attempt to damage the reputations of other people by spreading false or misleading information.

I don’t share many details of my personal life on this blog or the other forms of social media I use, such as Twitter and Google+. Why? Well, I don’t think that information would be very interesting to the general public, moreover I really don’t think they need to know about that facet of my life. I can assure you my private life is fairly unexciting, although I quite enjoy it that way. I quit Facebook (never used it much) and I also quit MySpace (remember that!?) years ago. I only have so much time to spend on this type of activity. My WordPress blog, Twitter and Google+ provide all I really need or want from social media. Since I don’t share a lot of information about my personal life on the internet I have given a few people the opportunity to try to paint a picture of me that is somewhat less than accurate.

Sometimes I am amazed that there are so many adults out there that can spend much of their time disparaging other people on the internet and often in a very juvenile fashion. I certainly don’t engage in the personal attacks and petty insults. You can go through all the posts on this blog, my Twitter account and my Google+ page and you won’t any examples of me posting ad hominem attacks against anyone I know personally. I consider myself a good natured person. Perhaps I’m not the most outgoing person at times, but in general I’m a pretty friendly person. There are very few people I truly dislike in this world. I could probably count them on my fingers. But even those people I just ignore for the most part. I don’t have the time or desire to stoop to the level of childish name calling.

Some members of Twitter post a small disclaimer on their Twitter page that states ReTweet does not = endorsement. I agree with that. I haven’t posted that type of disclaimer on my Twitter, but I may in the future. And I might expand that disclaimer and state that just because I have visited a particular web site doesn’t mean I agree or disagree/ approve or disapprove of the content on that website. Those of you who think you can discern what I think or what my specific interests and values are based largely or solely on the websites that I have visited are quite mistaken. I know through my own experience that certain individuals who think they know what websites I have visited have come to conclusions about my behavior and character that are waaaay off base.

Can you tell a book by it’s cover? No, you cannot in many cases. Well, I would also suggest that can’t come to definite conclusions about the character of a many people based solely on their social media content and web sites they may have visiited. Yes, you can learn certain things, but unless someone is explicitly stating what they like or don’t like, what they approve of or do not approve of, what they agree with or do not agree with you can’t come to definite conclusions about the character, values and interests of an individual. So, please bear that in mind next you think you know “all about” a person just because you have done “search” on the internet. Trust me, you don’t.

I’ll give you an example, a few months ago I sent a link to a story a about Ted Nugent giving consideration to running for President to a friend. I sent just the link alone, without additional commentary because the person that I sent the link to knows me well enough to know that I would think that the story is funny and that I would not seriously support Ted Nugent running for President. However, if I just posted that link on Twitter or my blog, without any comment, some people might conclude, mistakenly of course, that I think the idea of Ted Nugent running for President is a good idea and that I support him for that office.

I could cite numerous similar examples, pertaining to all sorts of other subjects and activities. Just because I have visited some web site that doesn’t mean I support the views/opinions presented on that site or that I want to actually participate in the activities that some sites feature.

I watch tons of MMA videos. That doesn’t mean I want to jump in an Octagon. I read articles about base jumping and I watch base jumping videos too. That doesn’t mean I want to jump off a skyscraper. Get it?

Most people that I am close to, including family and good friends, already know what I am going to explain below, but I want to spell out a few things out for who people don’t know me well and others who have never met me in person. I don’t want people to get the wrong impression of me based on the things a few trolls and nut cases have stated about me anywhere on or off the internet.

*I don’t do drugs.

*I don’t drink and drive.

*I don’t get drunk (I enjoy beer and wine, but I know my limits for each)

*I am single, but I’m not gay. Sorry, I’m just another straight guy. I have nothing against gay or bi people, but I don’t fall into that category. That said, I really don’t care too much about what consenting adults do with each other.

*I don’t hire sex workers (hookers). I wouldn’t do that for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I value my health.

*I don’t go to strip clubs. I have no problem with guys (or gals for that matter) who do go to strip clubs, but I don’t care for them.

*I don’t engage in “sexting” of any kind.

Let’s see, what else is there? Oh yeah, here are few more…..

I am not a member of the extreme leftist or a member of the communist party.
I am not an extreme “right-winger” or a fascist of any stripe.
I don’t engage in illegal gambling. (Ok, I might bet on football, basketball or the UFC when I’m in Vegas, where it is legal)
I don’t jaywalk.
I don’t litter.
I don’t harm small animals.
I don’t swear much, and never in front of children.

Am I getting a little bit absurd here? Yes, purposely, because the idea that I am anything other than a decent, thoughtful, hardworking person is laughable in my humble opinion. Although, I will admit to having an offbeat sense of humor.

Heck, I’ve been a model citizen in many respects. I haven’t even received a traffic ticket in over 20 years, let alone something more serious than that. If anyone out there has actually WITNESSED me engaging in conduct that was indecent, unethical or otherwise improper in any way within the last 10 or 20 years I’d be interested in hearing from you. Please contact me, because I have no recollection of such behavior and I’d like to find out more about my alleged misconduct. Maybe my memory is faulty, but I doubt it…

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