Divorce, like death, has its ghosts. Sometimes they linger around and remind us of the past on significant occasions. Sometimes they whisper in our ear to remind us of what once was, in a déjà vu like way, whenever we enter into similar circumstances. At other times, those ghosts very overtly invade our space in an effort to continue to make us pay for ever having married our ex.
A ghost recently visited me, making me question why I can never completely escape the clutches of divorce and be free from my ex, once and for all. I’m ashamed to say that, in a very un-warrior-like fashion, I let this ghost (and my ex) get the best of me! I caved to the drama and began to give in to what he wanted: my surrender and unhappiness.
Allow me to explain a bit. My divorce has been final for several years, but my ex and I still co-parent. We have at least six more years before both of our children are no longer in school and before I can even imagine the level of our interaction decreasing. For the most part, I feel that we co-parent moderately well. We put our kids first and try to keep obvious conflict on the back burner. Recent interactions, however, proved to me that emotions have been on more of a simmer than I realized.
It came to my attention that all of my social media had been infiltrated and I had a “spy” (who knows, maybe even “spies”) planted among trusted friends and associates. I’ve written before about the dangers of being careful on social media (e.g. don’t overshare, be careful who you talk to, and so on) because it can affect the outcome of court proceedings, custody, and so much more!
So, what happens when we become the target of a social media stalker or, in other ways, have the power of social media used against us?
Abuse on social media can take many forms:
A platform for lies and manipulation
An opportunity for spying
We probably all know people (or have been those people) who have found themselves in the crosshairs of a bitter ex who uses social media to drum up sympathy and support by lying and exaggerating about the misdeeds of their ex. We can all imagine how awful it is to have a hater make it their mission to spread misinformation or use social media to try to manipulate others into seeing a different side of themselves.
The court of public opinion is in session every day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others. Will your ex convince your own family and friends, co-workers, and others that you are an adulterer, bad parent, or an otherwise terrible person? Will access to your personal photos and details about your activities be used against you or viewed by people you wouldn’t want to share with?
When we become the victim of social media foul play, it’s natural to feel angry and violated! We choose to connect to the people we want and share with them what we wish; so, when we find that others invite themselves into our private world without our knowledge and consent for malevolent purposes, it’s quite disturbing!
In my situation, I am not concerned for my personal safety, not do I fear that the information sought about me is intended for any other purpose than to satisfy morbid curiosity about what I say and do. It’s as though I have a pesky fly circling around my head, buzzing and bouncing against me from time-to-time. My perpetrator is a coward who hides behind others and whispers gossip and lies in the shadows.
Luckily, I am not the target for a deranged stalker who intends to do actual harm to me physically or otherwise. Victims of this sort of social media attack need to take their concerns to the authorities and administrators of the sites they find themselves attacked on.
Block spies, exes, and others who are known (or suspected) troublemakers! Think carefully about who you let into your inner circle and what kind of information you share!
Let your attackers know that you will not cower in fear of their threats and intimidation and will take precautions to protect yourself!
My knee jerk reaction, once I learned that I had been targeted for spies and lies, was to shut everything down. In a way, this was probably smart; but, I also regret it. It was smart because it forced me to analyze who I’m connected to and why? I ended up eliminating the majority of my contacts on social media because I do not know which were stabbing me in the back. I am now only connected to immediate family or others whom I see daily.
I regret the decision to retreat in fear because of the (temporary) satisfaction it surely gave my enemies. All I did was prove that they could get to me, make me alter the way I live my life, and look over my shoulder. This experience made me fully realize the power of social media and the need to be extremely cautious; however, I refuse to stop living my truth and being myself!
What I won’t do is engage in a public brawl between myself and my ex or people from his camp. I also refrain from sharing my opinions about him 90% of the time. Whenever I do make mention, it’s usually in vague terms that can’t be definitely attached to any one person. I am guilty of probably venting too much early in my divorce journey; but, I try very hard to keep my lips sealed now.
I think I’ve shut trouble out of my life for now. If sneaks and spies come slithering back for me again in the future, I’ll give them an eye full! Oh, yes, they’ll see me living my life as a productive member of society, being a good parent, and being happy! If they hoped to see me miserable or failing in any way, they’ll be disappointed!
Here’s my message to stalkers and social media abusers: enjoy the view! I’m no longer afraid of you, and I won’t allow you the satisfaction of making me run to make your life more convenient. I am living my life, and I suggest you get a life of your own and start living it! I guess I should be flattered that, after years, I am still so important to you that you’ve made it your priority to have my life under a microscope. Guess what? You’re not at all significant to me! What you should feel is ashamed of how pathetic you are for stooping so low!