They Follow You From Account To Account

There are web forums and private social media groups where this sort of harassment is coordinated. They start threads to gather up all the online accounts and websites you have, as well as any news clippings, videos you appear in, blogs you abandoned years ago, any and all online presence you ever had, gathered into one place. And not just stuff you put out there yourself, they also peruse all those creepy stalker “background check” websites to gather up all your unpaid parking tickets and previous addresses. All there for scrutiny or engagement on their part. I’ve had strangers talk shit to me about a warrant I got for a years-old unpaid jaywalking ticket that I had literally no idea about until internet shitheads started treating me like I was on America’s Most Wanted for it.

These forums also employ various SEO tricks so their threads appear at higher positions in Google searches for your name and projects. Sometimes they can overshadow your own work. There’s also the concern that some of these threads can be stumbled upon by potential employers. Though, honestly, if a potential employer is reading up on me on a site where half the language is racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs, maybe I’m better off just wiping my ass with their application.

Admittedly a much harder course of action in the age of digital job posts, but still…

I’ve encountered threads like this where it’s clear a handful of people have nothing better to do with their lives than peruse through all my public social media and create regular newsletter-like posts cultivated specifically to make me sound unhinged… and they’ve been doing it weekly since 2014, whether anyone engages with them or not. It’s like a funhouse mirror reflection of my online existence; jokes I made are treated as serious implications of my personal philosophy and ethics. They’ll obsess over a three-year-old YouTube video where I made a poor choice of outfit, or a 10-year-old unflattering photo that my brain had long since buried behind a wall of denial. It’s hella creepy, but it’s also ridiculous and sad.

I’m not unaware of how this all sounds to people who have never been through it. Their gut reaction is often, “It’s the internet. Just stop using it. Or set your account to private. Or change your name, start a brand new account, and only give that information to close friends.”

“Get off the grid and move to a tropical island; I hear Tahiti is nice…”

An interesting read via Cracked: All Posts