Can You Have a Private Life on Social Media?

0 Posted by - September 11, 2011 - Real Life, Real Talk

I thought getting engaged would be “special,” however, over the course of the past two weeks it’s felt anything but. Before someone gets the wrong idea, let me explain.

I proposed in my motherland of St. Lucia the day before I was supposed to fly back to the States. However, with news of Hurricane Irene barreling up the East Coast, New York airports were shut down and my flight was cancelled. Other than the financial strain, it was no big deal—that just meant two extra days stuck in paradise with my fiancée.

Needless to say, she was excited about us getting engaged and couldn’t wait to share the news but was willing to wait until we got back home. Once we found out that we’d be stuck at the hotel a few extra days the Internet got the best of her and I watched as she left an open-ended status update on her FaceBook page:

I’m stranded in St. Lucia, it’s not a bad place to be. BTW, I said yes. =0)

Despite penning this blog for the past three years, I’m still a relatively private man. I share what I want, when I want. My fiancée knows that but I also know that she wanted to share so the semi-ambiguous “I said yes” message was fine with me. I was sure folks would make the assumption but I didn’t expect what was to come. It started with 48 “likes” and 55 comments, then some chose to take the news from FaceBook to Twitter sending their digital congratulations. Most of this occurred while we were frolicking on the beach far removed from the computer.

By time we got back to the States two days later and turned my phone on after a 10-day hibernation it exploded with 800+ emails, dozens of texts and a handful of BBM messages. As I sorted through the various messages during my six-hour layover between flight No. 2 and No. 3 I saw numerous congratulations or queries about whether or not the news was true. I took it for what it was and replied with my thanks and confirmations.

But then things started to change. One text I received from a good friend as soon as my plane landed in JFK read: “Thanks for the heads up.” As the aircraft taxied into the gate I replied that I was literally just landing and haven’t even been in the country a day yet. The response: “I shouldn’t have to hear from someone else.”

Therein lies the problem. Other than my mother, who I called from St. Lucia the night of the proposal, I’ve only been able to tell less than a handful of people directly. Due to the power of social media, more people have told me about my engagement than I have and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Every time someone I haven’t spoken to in ages hits me up out the blue with congratulations I feel a slight twinge, like, “Thanks, but how did you hear?” Because of a simple FaceBook status that went viral my ability to make a call and surprise someone with the news has been taken from me. That “special” moment was gone. The only folks I had left to “surprise” were you Sock Heads, who probably didn’t even know I’ve been in a serious relationship for the past two years. That all goes back to my private person personality. I planned on telling people in due time at my own pace, but the reality is that folks were told long before I even boarded a plane back to the States.

Sure, I can take it as people being happy for me/us and spreading the news, but it’s disheartening every time I bump in to someone and before I can excitedly tell them the news they respond with, “Yeah, I heard.” Now it’s at a point where I just wait for people to tell me because my business is already in the streets/tweets.

I blame social media.

As much as I’m entrenched in it for business and pleasure, it’s mostly been under my control. I’ve yet to send out one tweet, FaceBook status or whatever digital alert about my engagement. Last week’s post on love vs. in love  was my first public statement about my impending nuptials, but even that was subtle as you’d have to read the post all the way through to hear the news.

Clearly it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do on social media as I can only control myself. I have no say in someone seeing a FaceBook status update and taking it to Twitter where another person RTs it. This is the world we live in: people talk @ you instead of to you. We don’t pick up the phone and call folks with good news (one person did that). Instead, we send texts, tweets, “likes” and emails.

With social media, I don’t even have to be online to have my information out there. This whole experience has reminded me of that. While it may seem like an oxymoron for a public blogger/writer to expect privacy in the digital age of social media, even the groom-to-be wants to feel “special” sometimes.

Do you think social media has taken away our ability to have privacy? Have you ever had a secret or personal information about you spread online? If so, how did it make you feel? Do you think it’s unrealistic for me to expect to be able to tell folks about my engagement when I work in social media? Should my fiancée and I stayed off of FaceBook longer before putting out that pseudo-message? For those that have been engaged before, do you feel like some people start to make everything about them and not the couple? Are you good at keeping other people’s secrets or are you a blabbermouth by nature?

Speak your piece…

  • CaliDreaming86

    Social media hasn’t taken away my ability to have privacy because I don’t put my very personal business out there in the first place. 

    No, I have never had a secret or personal information spread about me online because as I said, I don’t put that kind of information out there. 

    I am good at keeping other people’s secrets because I am a private person, nor would I want someone telling others my secrets, but then again, I don’t tell people my secrets because I trust no one.

  • CaliDreaming86

    Social media hasn’t taken away my ability to have privacy because I don’t put my very personal business out there in the first place. 

    No, I have never had a secret or personal information spread about me online because as I said, I don’t put that kind of information out there. 

    I am good at keeping other people’s secrets because I am a private person, nor would I want someone telling others my secrets, but then again, I don’t tell people my secrets because I trust no one.

  • http://www.imperfectenjoyment.com Dewan Gibson

    Congrats! And just be happy your lady was so excited to spread the news. My ex wouldn’t even change her Facebook relationship status (but did when I threatened to remember that as a cheatable offense). Let me know if you need a wedding singer. I do a good Freddie Jackson.

    • Anonymous

      funny man. lol

  • http://www.imperfectenjoyment.com Dewan Gibson

    Congrats! And just be happy your lady was so excited to spread the news. My ex wouldn’t even change her Facebook relationship status (but did when I threatened to remember that as a cheatable offense). Let me know if you need a wedding singer. I do a good Freddie Jackson.

  • http://ladyngo.blogspot.com Lady Ngo

    Its no different now than it was in the past before the explosion of social media to me. Even before we were bombarded with the likes of fb, twitter, and blogs, people could still spread your business with great ease, though not as quickly i suppose. But you’re right about the fact that the only person you can control is yourself. As soon as you tell one person, you run the risk of telling everyone because you don’t know who that person is going to tell and how they will tell it. So the biggest solution would be to share what you want to share and keep what you want private to yourself. Nothing else you can really do.

  • http://tastethethoughts.webs.com Tasty Thoughts

    indeed, social media has changed the way people perceive things. i know a lot of my friends who still use the “single” icon on fb even though they are in relationships…and while it doesn’t bother the two parties involved others feel as though its a sign that something is not right in the relationship…but where were we before the world got so small socially? i mean lets be real….i dont think its fair that people believe the presence or absence of information on a social network is the end all be all or that someone should truly feel they are not as important in your life because of it. at the end of the day, if your special you will hear it from me and not fb regardless of when i put a status up….and as a fellow blogger i understand your need for privacy…. i wouldnt sweat about this anymore then you did if you did…people just need to understand social media is not and will never be the end all be all. 

  • http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com Spinster

    Well DAMN!  I’ve clearly missed a lot during my hiatus.  Congratulations. 

  • Gemini

    Congratulations on your engagement. I have never done any of the Faces, Books, Tweets or Links. This site is the closest I’ve ever come to a social site. I hate them. I always tell my children and people I know do not mention me, do not post any pictures of me and do not send me friend request links as I will never connect. I think people have way too much info out there. Hey everybody! I’m going to St. Hells Fire! feel free to rob my house and kill my cat. I don’t care what people are doing. I have a friend that seems to put her every thought up on Facebook…I find it childish. Go to confession if you just have to put it out there like that.

  • jaclynsd

    Although I can understand your girl being excited about announcing her engagement (she loves you) I can also relate to wanting to keep it private. Its like someone borrowed something of yours and then telling you about it after they did it. Um sure I’d be fine with someone close to me borrowing my things and I’d say yes BUT can I at least get the chance to do so, not let it be decided for me. That’s what social media feels like sometimes…its like others getting the chance to decide things for you. I mean even if you were cool w/the decision can you at least get the chance to let it be known first. Kind of sucks the life out of things. To me I’d like things to be just mine and my loved one until we both decide to share it. I like the intimacy about that but facebook, tweeter and the like seem to take that away.
     
    In either case you’ll have the chance to have many more intimate moments and I’m sure now she’ll know that you’d like to wait a while before you share it w/the world. Congrats and here’s to many many more intimidate and blessed moments. :)

  • jaclynsd

    Although I can understand your girl being excited about announcing her engagement (she loves you) I can also relate to wanting to keep it private. Its like someone borrowed something of yours and then telling you about it after they did it. Um sure I’d be fine with someone close to me borrowing my things and I’d say yes BUT can I at least get the chance to do so, not let it be decided for me. That’s what social media feels like sometimes…its like others getting the chance to decide things for you. I mean even if you were cool w/the decision can you at least get the chance to let it be known first. Kind of sucks the life out of things. To me I’d like things to be just mine and my loved one until we both decide to share it. I like the intimacy about that but facebook, tweeter and the like seem to take that away.
     
    In either case you’ll have the chance to have many more intimate moments and I’m sure now she’ll know that you’d like to wait a while before you share it w/the world. Congrats and here’s to many many more intimidate and blessed moments. :)

  • jaclynsd

    Although I can understand your girl being excited about announcing her engagement (she loves you) I can also relate to wanting to keep it private. Its like someone borrowed something of yours and then telling you about it after they did it. Um sure I’d be fine with someone close to me borrowing my things and I’d say yes BUT can I at least get the chance to do so, not let it be decided for me. That’s what social media feels like sometimes…its like others getting the chance to decide things for you. I mean even if you were cool w/the decision can you at least get the chance to let it be known first. Kind of sucks the life out of things. To me I’d like things to be just mine and my loved one until we both decide to share it. I like the intimacy about that but facebook, tweeter and the like seem to take that away.
     
    In either case you’ll have the chance to have many more intimate moments and I’m sure now she’ll know that you’d like to wait a while before you share it w/the world. Congrats and here’s to many many more intimidate and blessed moments. :)

  • jaclynsd

    Although I can understand your girl being excited about announcing her engagement (she loves you) I can also relate to wanting to keep it private. Its like someone borrowed something of yours and then telling you about it after they did it. Um sure I’d be fine with someone close to me borrowing my things and I’d say yes BUT can I at least get the chance to do so, not let it be decided for me. That’s what social media feels like sometimes…its like others getting the chance to decide things for you. I mean even if you were cool w/the decision can you at least get the chance to let it be known first. Kind of sucks the life out of things. To me I’d like things to be just mine and my loved one until we both decide to share it. I like the intimacy about that but facebook, tweeter and the like seem to take that away.
     
    In either case you’ll have the chance to have many more intimate moments and I’m sure now she’ll know that you’d like to wait a while before you share it w/the world. Congrats and here’s to many many more intimidate and blessed moments. :)

  • Deka

    and that’s why my FB profile doesn’t even show “single” or in a “relationship” I feel when it comes to social media, these things are not important to everyone. Unless I’m ignorant and don’t understand by social status is important to the public. But I do think “Married” as your status is worth mentioning. 

  • Deka

    and that’s why my FB profile doesn’t even show “single” or in a “relationship” I feel when it comes to social media, these things are not important to everyone. Unless I’m ignorant and don’t understand by social status is important to the public. But I do think “Married” as your status is worth mentioning. 

  • Deka

    and that’s why my FB profile doesn’t even show “single” or in a “relationship” I feel when it comes to social media, these things are not important to everyone. Unless I’m ignorant and don’t understand by social status is important to the public. But I do think “Married” as your status is worth mentioning. 

  • Rastaman

    I learned early on to never tell anyone anything about yourself if you wish to keep it secret.   A difficult undertaking I understand but it is the only way you can guarantee not making the private public.   Social media is media, what everyone needs to understand about the media is that you can never really control the message, you can try but once you are engaged everything you put out in to the ether becomes fair game for others discussions.  
    I too am a very private person, so much so that I often attempt to maintain a wall between the personal and the professional.   As a result I make an effort to put as little of myself into the public marketplace as possible.   I am not clear on how you would expect to maintain any level of privacy being a social media personality. 
    Anslem you may want to embrace the privacy philosophies of other media pros, Radio DJs and TV talk hosts since a lot of the topics you raise on your blogs come directly from your own life and experience.   In order to get the point across you have to interject a lot of yourself much of which is generally private.   Once you make yourself a public figure in that sense you are inviting others into your life whether you want to or not.   The readers now feel they know you and there are fewer boundaries to what is private and what is public.  Once you interject any aspect of your private self into the public discourse you leave yourself open to more scrutiny and less privacy than the average person.  
    My knowledge and experience in the media makes me wary of its affect not only on others but myself.   One can never engage in media and not be touched by it.  It is a powerful beast that can at any moment turn and devour those who consider it their masters. 

  • Lonias

    “With social media, I don’t even have to be online to have my information out there. This whole experience has reminded me of that.”

    This is my key take-away. I know a little about how you feel. Something similar happened to me when I got a new job that moved me out of state. In my case, I hadn’t posted anything and a family member beat me to it and my then-employer found out…you get the picture…

    Yours was MUCH bigger news and I understand the desire to want to tell it yourself…

    Has social media taken away the ability to have privacy?
    No. We have tons of privacy settings to “protect” us and we can always restrain (or abstain). I think information goes viral because somewhere between begging our parents for a separate phone lines and tweeting, we dropped courtesy and forgot it. Seeing something online does not automatically mean it should be copied and pasted. This is especially true between media. If a bride-to-be posts on FB, that’s where she wanted to post. If she wanted to tweet it, she would have. To me, it’s simple: I don’t take information I hear by phone and print an ad…or go on FB. I assume people tell their stories the way THEY want to tell them. What ever happened to the age-old question, “Does anyone else know?” I don’t think anyone means any harm, but it really doesn’t hurt to take a moment, contain your personal excitement and consider how what you’re about to tweet might affect the person your tweeting about.

  • http://twitter.com/DarlingNiq Nicole M. Peters

    First off, CONGRATULATIONS!!! And I’m glad, at least, there was still us SOCK heads to surprise with the news of the upcoming nuptuals. Relating to the topic, I think that, for me personally, I can maintain a private life in lieu of social media.  When facebook was really new and COLLEGE STUDENTS were the only ones allowed on it, I still kept some of my filterless mind ramblings to myself.  Even though, at that time, you knew all (10 of your friends) still, there was some things that I just rather not tell them!

    I was a person, once before, who used to put her relationship status if the on FB, however, and I regret that.  Its still too much information in the long run and God forbid a break up or you just want to change your status back to “single” (because you aren’t engaged or married) everyone is chiming in and you simply can’t just say, “I just felt like updating it with something else.”

    Although I have an FB, Tumblr and Twitter account, I still know how to differentiate what I need to express and what needs to stay with me!

  • Carrie Pink

    Privacy can still be maintained online. I only share what I want to share and all of my friends know, do not share pics of my kids without my knowledge or u will be nixed lol Congrats btw.. lol I’m one who had no idea you were in a relationship or were planning to wed lol. When I got engaged we called our friends and made sure we told everyone we wanted to tell personally BEFORE ever changing our status on Facebook. lol We KNEW how things would look if folks found out online first.. After all the calls then we posted on FB.. probably a week or so later I think.. When we got married we didn’t post a thing.. for months. and since we eloped no one else could post either! lol That is the worst, I’ve seen people’s wedding pics online before the reception is even over.. lol.. So be forewarned… when you have your ceremony, collect all camera phones at the entrance of the church!

  • Destined_just_wait

    Do you think social media has taken away our ability to have privacy?No,  not on its own. People have the power of choice to take part in it and to the extent that they choose. Not everyone has FB and Twitter, etc. 

    Have you ever had a secret or personal information about you spread online? Nope. I’m  a private person

     If so, how did it make you feel? If I did, I would be hella mad thats for sure. 

    Do you think it’s unrealistic for me to expect to be able to tell folks about my engagement when I work in social media? No, its not unrealistic. You and your fiancée could have discussed the timeline of how you were both spreading the news. 

    Should my fiancée and I stayed off of FaceBook longer before putting out that pseudo-message? Duh lol. Seems like a conversation was needed on when and and how the announcement would be made. And an agreement to stick to that decision, no matter how excited either you may become, respect of the agreement made should come first.

    For those that have been engaged before, do you feel like some people start to make everything about them and not the couple? Not in that season..yet..have no clue. 

    Are you good at keeping other people’s secrets or are you a blabbermouth by nature? I respect all secrets entrusted onto me

    Congratulations to your and fiancée. May God Bless your union and fill you both with a life full of happiness, forgiveness, strength, patience but most of all LOVE.

  • Destined_just_wait

    Do you think social media has taken away our ability to have privacy?No,  not on its own. People have the power of choice to take part in it and to the extent that they choose. Not everyone has FB and Twitter, etc. 

    Have you ever had a secret or personal information about you spread online? Nope. I’m  a private person

     If so, how did it make you feel? If I did, I would be hella mad thats for sure. 

    Do you think it’s unrealistic for me to expect to be able to tell folks about my engagement when I work in social media? No, its not unrealistic. You and your fiancée could have discussed the timeline of how you were both spreading the news. 

    Should my fiancée and I stayed off of FaceBook longer before putting out that pseudo-message? Duh lol. Seems like a conversation was needed on when and and how the announcement would be made. And an agreement to stick to that decision, no matter how excited either you may become, respect of the agreement made should come first.

    For those that have been engaged before, do you feel like some people start to make everything about them and not the couple? Not in that season..yet..have no clue. 

    Are you good at keeping other people’s secrets or are you a blabbermouth by nature? I respect all secrets entrusted onto me

    Congratulations to your and fiancée. May God Bless your union and fill you both with a life full of happiness, forgiveness, strength, patience but most of all LOVE.

  • 4L

    -Ans:
    I like calling people….well most people…lol But I hate people sending stuff important over the web like FB or Twitter. 

  • R.e.D

    How exactly can you blame social media for this when your business was put on the street by the other party in your relationship? Come on nwso, EVERY woman- hell, every person- knows exactly what it means when a woman in a relationship puts on FB, “I said yes.” Ain’t nothing ambiguous about that.She wanted the world to know, and so the world responded. There’s nothing wrong with that…but please don’t blame social media for something you guys put out there. If you didn’t want it on blast, that’s something you two should’ve discussed prior to that FB status update.

    • Anonymous

      What I’m talking about it how it jumped from FB, which is for a select few friends, and some in that circle decided to take it off that platform and on to another I.E. Twitter. the same person(s) could have easily stayed on FB with the congrats or shot an email like others but some spread to Twitter which is the social media part I’m talking about. Feel me?

      Check My Interactive Business Card: http://about.me/anslemsamuel

      Sent via AnsBerry from NWSO-Mobile

      • Lbranch25

        Lol look whose playing the pseudo blog celeb card? Dude..you write a blog and put personal info out there, I would be more worried about that than what your fiancée posted on her wall. it’s not that serious, people wanna congratulate you, let em, or don’t , who cares? Smh

        • Anonymous

          Think you missed the point. I write a blog where I share SOME personal info and that’s a given. What she posted on her wall i watched. It’s just I assumed it would stay in that social circle and eventually tickle out. But the speed at which it traveled and people jumping from one platform to another. At the end of the day it was expected BUT I didn’t expect to have the whole experience deflated because I don’t get that opportunity to tell people. Again, until this point not one tweet, message, email came from me directly and it’s kind of disappointing to go to tell someone and they already know. It’s like SURPRISE… Oh, you saw me coming from a mile away. Well, this si embarrassing. 

          So it’s not about people congratulating (that’s expected). It’s my feelings on the aftermath of a simple FB status. 

          Thanks

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Thompson/1451838291 Lisa Thompson

            it sounds to me like you’re more ticked off about missing the 1st hand reactions of your friends, then that the news got spread hither and yon which is very sweet, I held off on FB for years, and still don’t have a twitter account because I was concerned about corporate privacy, not personal, people, myself included tend to forget that what they are quietly sitting and typing in their living room, once it’s posted online, is out there, forever, and traceable back to you if someone tries hard enough, I know I’ll never be a senator or a senator’s wife , but that’s OK I don’t really care, anyway – congratulations!

      • Lbranch25

        Lol look whose playing the pseudo blog celeb card? Dude..you write a blog and put personal info out there, I would be more worried about that than what your fiancée posted on her wall. it’s not that serious, people wanna congratulate you, let em, or don’t , who cares? Smh

      • Lbranch25

        Lol look whose playing the pseudo blog celeb card? Dude..you write a blog and put personal info out there, I would be more worried about that than what your fiancée posted on her wall. it’s not that serious, people wanna congratulate you, let em, or don’t , who cares? Smh

  • http://theworldoftiffany.wordpress.com Tiffany

    I think it is completely possible. I blog and tweet and stuff, but I also maintain my privacy. For instance, I talk about my Godkids all of the time, but would never post a pic of them. Things like that still give you privacy, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikki.frankliln Nikki Frankliln

    First of all congratulations to u & your fiancee Anslem.  
    I’m also a private person & I was surprised that the info requested by FB would be expsed to the world so to speak.
    I was invited to face book a couple of years ago to view a friends wedding photos. Little did I expect that my birth name etc. would be out there for all to c.
    I was new to FB but I eventually found out how to block certain things from all but friends or just for me to know.
    Sometimes I regret coming onto FaceBook, but I’m not a regular participant on FB so apart from a few photos I maintain a certain privacy.
    I’m a bit concerned that an acquaintance posts their feelings etc. on FB. I specifically told them not to mention anything about me on FB & they have complied with my wishes. Well again congrats. Anslem to u & your fiancee. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Thompson/1451838291 Lisa Thompson

    Have you ever had a secret or personal information about you spread online?no, but a friend of mines 10th gradr has If so, how did it make you feel? Do you think it’s unrealistic for me to expect to be able to tell folks about my engagement when I work in social media? Should my fiancée and I stayed off of FaceBook longer before putting out that pseudo-message? e’s nothing wrong w/itan tha, but then again rif you wanted to hear the oohs and ahhs when you told people, yes other there than that, there’s no problemFor those that have been engaged before, do you feel like some people start to make everything about them and not the couple not to scare you, butoh honey – wait until the wedding,what did they sat in that Forest Whitaker movie “your marriage- their day” everyone will want a say in this or that especially if they are shipping in to help pay for it Are you can avoid a lot of this, by paying for it entirely yourselves, and/or hiring a wedding planner more money, but worth it to get the stress off your shoulders wedding planning is hard and stressful and ut as a woman who’s planned two of her own weddings, I can tell you what ever you do, do yourself and you girl favor least feign interest interest in all the little details – yes it’s important what color the bouteniers (sp?)&center pieces are& what the guest book looks like and whatever she (especially if she’s doing the planning asks you to do for the wedding, ask her for a “due date”otherwise, she’s thinking tomorrow, and you’re probably thinking the day b4,and make sure are you get it done good at keeping other people’s secrets or are you a blabbermouth by nature? no, I’ll tell you anything you anything you ask you* probably to a fault but stuff others tell me I keep quiet about it;’s not my place to tell others your business I figure if you wanted them to know you’d have told them , also there are tons of wedding planning websites, with timelines, checklists and lists of vendors, make her day and find one (one of the biggest frustration for a bride, is when the groom doesn’t seem to care about these things get involved – she’ll be thrilled