My first venture with social media was a forced situation, not pleasant. Identity theft is common, social media identity theft is not as common. While in high school during the rise of early social networks, and prior to lawsuits for digital bullying, a profile was created in my name with a photo that slightly resembled me (if I was a lingerie model) and my personal information. By personal information I mean my name, telephone number, life details, and most importantly/scarily… my address. The profile was discovered after several (more than ten) creepy phone calls to my house from men that wanted to meet me. As a seventeen yearold, this was petrifying and mortifying. Not only was I attempting to navigate high school, I was now thrown into the real world of online sex solicitations without my knowledge, let alone consent. The profile created under my name was every parents nightmare for their daughter.
Why the nickname/handle/blog title? Warning: LONG blog post
Instinctively, we searched for the site after one of the callers explained where he found my information. My dad quickly found the page, my mom quickly freaked out, and I quickly started crying. All of this was very quick. In any crisis, I smile, I process, and then I say, “oh shit. plan of attack? Go!” With zero prior knowledge of any sort of social media, we emailed the company asking for the page to be removed. Step two, call the police. With that type of personal information out there, we felt this was logical. Not surprising, the police chuckled, explained there was nothing they could do, and said, “Sounds like a high school prank, did you make any enemies for yourself?” Again, I’m in panic mode so I’m simply absorbing everything coming my way.
I hang up and ask myself, “Wait, did that cop just ask me if I made any enemies?” As in, enemies are something I clearly brought upon myself, and I deserve this so-called high school prank? The email response from the folks at unsaid-social-network explained to me that without a “supina” there was nothing they could do. Correct, you read that as they wrote it, “supina.” My dad and I read the email with frustration not only of the situation but of the sheer stupidity of the person on the other side of the chain of communication. Someone claiming to be from the legal team just spelled subpoena incorrectly. Obviously we weren’t getting anywhere with them, but the site was removed. So, we bandaged my severely bruised ego, I vowed never to tell the story to anyone, and I swore off this “social media” devil for life.
Fast forward five-ish years. I’m a senior in college preparing to graduate and I’m fully aware of the networking, marketing, research, and FUN that is associated with social media. Like most my age, I use Facebook daily, my profile is set up on LinkedIn and I’m active watching this new Twitter trend that is spreading like wildfire. Next thing I know, it is 2009, I’m working in marketing, and I’m doing research on ways to connect with customers. I decide to try out Twitter but don’t want my real name associated with ANYTHING social media. Considering I had a fake name for most other things online, I considered using that, but hesitated because I was realizing the true value of social media. I needed something that said “Eliza” (me) without using my name. Do you remember the video-game character, Duke Nukem from the early to mid-90s? No? Google it. I decided to call myself NewNukem on Twitter because ‘nukem’ is phonetically similar to my name and I’m not the Duke, but I’m ‘new’ to the world of Twitter. So, NewNukem was created.
A wise word to the weary and untrusting of social media: everything is scary until you understand it. The best way to understand it is to do it, slowly at first. Skepticism is good, skepticism of powerful things is better. Social media is powerful, I was skeptical, I researched the hell out of it to understand the background, and now I love it. Go figure. And as of May 11, 2010, all things about me online have my real name associated with them. My name is Eliza, I am a recovering social-media-phobe.