Tuesday, February 19, 2013

guidelines for meeting in real life

I feel like over the past week I've taken a tiny step away from social media. I love blogging, I love connecting with other instagramers and I love the community that I've built. But I feel like I need to build a better foundation for my community. I feel like I've trusted some people that are unsafe for me and my family and I need to reassess to make sure that the people I am trusting online are people that are safe for my son and myself. About a week ago I had to have the police over to file a report on a local IG'er. I wont get into details, but the officers confirmed I had enough evidence to file a report and eventually a restraining order if she doesn't stop contacting me. The process of speaking to my husband about upgrading our security for our home over social media left me a little shaken. It left me wondering who is trustworthy and who is portraying who they really are online. 

Social media has been a wonderful outlet for over ten years. I've been able to meet some of my very best friends online. Recently I am seeing that it is also a very scary place.  It can be a place where people can pretend to be people they are not and try to get information to hurt you or your family. Instead of being my naive self and trusting everyone I am taking a step back. I love making new connections, meeting new friends but my priority is now making sure they are people that I can trust and be able to introduce my son into their lives. Judah is my son and his safety out weighs anything in this world. 

Here are some basic steps I use in trusting someone for a meet up. 

+ have I followed this person on IG, twitter or read their blog for a long period of time to see consistency in their life, character or behavior. 

+ do we have mutual friends? do I respect the trustworthiness of our mutual friends. 

+ is the person trying to push a meet up? asking constantly to meet Judah and myself with out trying to build an online friendship first.

+ is the person trying to meet at my home or a public place (when people push to meet at my home this sets off red flags for me)

+ does the person get angry if I do not follow them back on social media

Here is the deal, its not a popularity contest, when I mentally check through these boxes I am doing so with my son in mind. For example the people I have met up with in the past, I've follow them on their blog, IG or twitter for a long period of time. I've seen that their behavior matches up to what they are portraying online. I believe you can only keep things hidden in the dark for so long and if I have been reading your blog for lets say the past year I'm sure I would see some sort of red flag if something wasn't right. I also check to see if we have mutual friends. If I have enough friends who have passed my internal online friendship trusting radar who trust you, then chances are I would probably become friends with you as well. If someone keeps trying to push for a meet up when I have pushed back a few times, this sets off a signal that this person isn't safe for me to meet up with. I just can't meet up with random people that I don't know. Its not safe. I will not meet people I don't know at my home, that's a given. When I became friends with Kendra we hung out in public several times before I invited her over. We were online friends for awhile before we met in a public place. After a few meet ups we realized we lived a few miles from each other and before you know it we are having play dates at each others home and attending our children's birthday parties. Our friendship started out gradually and it felt safe. If someone gets angry because I don't follow them back on social media this makes me question what else could they get angry over if we are "in real life friends". Since I have a traumatic childhood, people who get angry over little things set off red flags letting me know they are unsafe and I typically cease all contact with that person. If I am able to over time to see that the person has a good character reference, mutual friends, doesn't push me to meet up and I see them treating others with love and respect then I will probably follow them back and build a friendship with them. But unlike the forced relationships formed on The Bachelor, I need time to form "in real life" friendships. Like I said before, my sons safety is first and if I am able to introduce an online friend to my son who have passed my internal online friendship guidelines then I am more than willing to meet up in real life. 

Also I trust my gut instinct. If anything feels off then I walk away. 

I would like to know if you have any "internal guidelines" for meeting up new mama friends. 

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  1. yep. You nailed it Jess.

    I think your list is right on. And while I have been lucky not to have many worrisome experiences online - the one that I did have had MANY red flags that I should have considered earlier than I did. I was lucky to get that person out of my life without too much hassle, but it defintely had me feeling uneasy and that I had put my family at risk for many months. This is a great guideline and post! xo, M

    1. This was my first red flag person out of many people I've connected with and met. Im sure out of so many good eggs you end up bumping into a bad one. I think the bad relationships teach us to watch out for those red flags early on in future relationships :-)

  2. <3 I'm sorry you had to go through all that, how scary. I very much enjoyed meeting you in real life and hope we can do it again the next time I'm visiting my folks. I promise I'm still not scary.

    I've seen some super long term, trusted internet relationships go badly after an in-person meeting, so I'm extremely wary of them in general. I always meet in a public place first. I think there's only one blogger I've ever had over to my house (and gone to hers) based entire only an internet friendship (rather than having mutual real-life friends hook us up because we have stuff in common.)

    1. Im so happy we met up in real life :-) of course we are going to meet up again one day :-) plus we are planning on going to Connecticut in May for my step moms wedding (I think in may). I'll message you when we have the final details.

      I think the "blogger" moms I've met up with I've really connected with, we have the same common ground and get each other ;-)

  3. I had a scare a year or 2 ago when I saw someone was googling "naked little boys" and I guess enough words triggered my blog as a site of interest for them.
    OBVIOUSLY, my boys were not what these people were looking for but it made me literally sick to think some creep even saw a picture of my boys at all.

    I immediately took it off of search engines and decided I was fine with it being just a small blog full of memories for me and my close friends/ family-- even though I knew I was limiting myself to many blogger-type relationships.

    I am super weary of people... possibly too much so!
    ...and I get a little anxious about new meetings for some dumb reason.

    I think you made a great list!

  4. I am really sorry you are going through an experience like this. That's really unsettling and not to mention sad that people wish to do anyone else harm.

  5. These are all really good guidelines. The mutual friend one is HUGE and I hadn't really even thought about it until you mentioned it. It is sort of just a given for me. But truly, all the people I have any desire to meet or have met, I am friends with their friends as well and vice versa. It's also good to meet in a group, and a group of bloggers is even more fun!

  6. I would also make sure you take your photo map off of IG. It's a really good way for someone to track your exact location. It's pretty scary what people can do with that.

  7. That would be terrifying!!! I think they're good guidelines to have. I'm usually not too thoughtful about that until recently. I made a stats poster of my son and wanted to post it but decided against it because they'd have so much info on the little guy. Now days people can be so looney that it's really not worth it. I also try to make sure I never have geo-tag set on any photos and I don't "check-in" to places.

    I'm really sorry you had to go through this. I hope they back off and you can build up your little safety bubble once again. *hugs*


  8. That would be very very scary! I'm sorry you had to go through that. I've never had anything scary happen online, even through I do have (in my husbands opinion) a lot of information about myself online. You are such a sweet women and I enjoy reading your blog (I think its been a week now) I would be very disappointed if you stopped blogging. I pray for you daily!

  9. You could also search their name on watchdog sites to see if they have a violent or predatory past. I may be paranoid, but I do this with all the new people I meet.

  10. Omg this is so scary and i recently addressed this fear on my possibly last blog post ever. I was also very candid about quite a few things. It does make me wonder if people will think im nuts ;) i just think being honest is so very important. Here's the truth, i don't think i could EVER meet up with someone i met online. Ever. It just seems too scary, and too many unknown factors? Add in an awful experience with a real live stalker and im just too leary of others. Kudos to you for speaking up and being very honest about your experience!!

    I don't understand the getting angry over not following thing? I have been frustrated before over being a long time reader of a blog and never ever getting any response to any comment.. but on my part i just started interacting more instead of quietly reading so its just probably me.

    The world is such a scary place these days
    Probably explains why ive become such a hermit!


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