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What Are People Saying About You? And Why Do You Care?
An insidious new Twitter virus (don't worry, that link won't give it to you) targets this sore spot in people's psyches. Let me explain how an annoying hacker urged me to take a good look at myself: So, the other night, I was shuttling around my kitchen, very tired and distracted, and I saw a tweet light up on my iPad which was charging at a nearby outlet. I had literally just been wondering whether anyone ever read my blog posts and what they thought of them. So I peered at the iPad and saw the message: "Seen what this person is saying about you? Terrible things." With a link.
I know. I know. I know. What am I, a space alien new to this whole Internet thing? Obviously this is spammy, hackery, virus crap. How can I explain? The temptation was just too great! And also, I would like to add in my defense that I was really tired and out of it and not thinking at all. Also, covered in macaroni bits. I did it. I clicked.
Here is my public service announcement: don't click on links in tweets that seem suspect. (OBVIOUSLY.) If someone direct messages you something like this and you're wondering what the deal is, message them back to check. And if you click on a link and it asks you to enter your log in and password, don't do it!
Okay, you're welcome.
Now, this annoying virus sent the same message to maybe a third of my Twitter followers. What killed me was that almost immediately I got the same message back about 10 times, which means that each of these totally media-savvy women (they were all women) had fallen for the tricky tweet. I sent messages to my tweeps (what, that's what they're called, right?) warning them to stay away from the link, and several wrote back things like, "Oh no, I just clicked (too sensitive)," or, "Thank god! I haven't gotten any bad reviews for my business yet and was wondering..." or, "I was seconds away from clicking!"
It strikes me as half-hilarious and half-tragic that so many of us were so shaken by this silly little message. Of course whoever designed the virus knows this, and must know that such a comment, suspect bad grammar and all, is going to induce a lot of self-conscious people to click.
Why? Why do we care if people are saying "terrible things"? Were we all flashing back to high school, picturing a gaggle of mean girls snickering about us in some dim corner of the Internet? I mean, we are grown-a** women, right?
So, while I'm totally embarrassed that I fell for this virus, I'm considering my folly a call to action. We should all just do what we're doing, without worrying that people might be saying terrible things or laughing at us. Because you know what? Sometimes they will be, and (assuming you're not running for office) it simply doesn't matter. Caring too much what others think opens you up to weakness, to self-doubt, to...viruses. As Martha Beck writes, self-conscious, "self-limiting behaviors have no positive side; contrary to what many assume, they rarely save us from doing things we'll later regret...people most often regret the things they failed to try, rather than the things they bombed at." So, dear hackers, thank you for reminding me to renounce nervousness and fear and worry.
Um, unless you hacked my bank account too, in which case, that's going to feel a little less revelatory, so maybe please don't.
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