Thursday, May 27, 2010

Being a Stepparent on Facebook

How many of you are on Facebook? MySpace? Twitter? Etc, etc...?

If you're a stepmom in the middle of nastiness or often the brunt of said nastiness, do you have paranoia about what you do and write online- Just like when you're at your stepkid's school and feel the looks and distaste from the other moms? Should you?

Of course, you're going to say yes, that you should be worried about what you post online. If you're not yet, you'll learn sooner or later that what you put online may be found out. It may not even be by the person you expect it from, like the ex-wife. Friends get caught up in these back and forth stories of family drama, and sometimes they look you or your family up. It may not be the ex that looks up your posts and sites, but the kids. I was on a stepmom community site for quite a while that required some level of background check. Other stepmoms posted that their stepkids would wait til they walked away from their computer to jump on and see what their stepmom was bitching about or writing about them. They have even had stepkids find out their passwords so that they can log into their stuff.

What about Facebook? It's all over the news right now, since they keep changing their privacy settings. My husband and I are big web and tech users, so we've been concealing our info on multiple sites since day 1. Sometimes he even interrogates me about my settings or posts, which I usually assure him I am aware of others possibly seeing what I say or passing it on.

For the most part, we hide sensitive information or completely omit it. Something that helps me refrain from overtly describing what actually goes on is that my friends on Facebook vary from friends, family of all ages, people from church, and soccer or work associates. I want to have this network of different types of people, and therefore I need to "keep in mind my audience". Just like every paper I've ever written, every article or publication I've ever worked on, and every presentation I've ever done. They teach you in school year after year: Keep your audience in mind.

I have actually found Facebook quite helpful compared to every other site. Did you know that you can actually hide certain pieces of information on your profile?? You don't have to hide the whole thing or even omit. So this blog address itself is specifically omitted from my stepdaughter who has recently joined Facebook. I also hid it from view of her best friend, just in case. I could also hide it from my in-laws or other moms of the kids' friends. But so far, I've just blocked it from the two kids who look at Facebook from within the ex's house.

You can also block specific people. Sometimes, you won't even be able to locate them because they have already blocked you! That happens when you know that someone is on Facebook, but you can't search for them no matter what combination of names you use. Yep, they blocked you already. Facebook set up those controls so that if you block someone, you also won't see them. It's a 2-way street. I find that to be fantastic. =)

So yes, privacy settings may change on a site like Facebook, but if you're in custody wars or could potentially be in one one day, you should already be aware. You should already know your settings, which sites to stay off of, or be watching what you say anyway. It's just like not talking about the ex with one of the kids' best friends' moms. Be aware.

But don't limit yourself, either. Thanks to those Facebook settings, I can even post a message and block particular people or groups. If something is sensitive, inappropriate, etc., then go ahead and block it! There's a little lock symbol at the bottom of each status/comment box before you click the post/submit buttons. The biggest problem there is that you have to do that setting before you click the post/submit buttons. Afterwards, it's too late. You can delete it, but I know that in the past, those still showed up on the News Feed.

Even so, I believe that you should make your community be what you want it to be. You should be able to talk about things, share what's going on in your life, or share information about yourself. If you get so bogged down in pretending to be perfect because there's an ex out there that wants to ruin in your life, then you stop living your life. You can choose to completely stay out of these networks, but I think they are so supportive to my life and overall well-being, that I would never forgo it just because there's a (valid and definite) fear of another. I want to still relate to everyone on my list, message them, post and share pictures... That value is much higher to me than a person who can't get over my existence.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with this...however, I my skids are friends on my facebook page. Like the 2 way street...if we wanted to see what they are up to, then they will have access to us. I don't use FB for venting or talking about anything really bad in regards to them or BM, and save that for my private blog and stepmom sites. My friends and family don't really need to know all the dirt about our lives through FB...I just call them and tell them.

    I do have pictures of the kids and everything that I post, but if there is something they don't want me to post (like it's embarrassing if their friends might see it, or would hurt mom's feelings because it's a cute family photo) I try to respect their feelings. I never tag them in pictures unless it's something they wanted me to that would show up on their page.

    My rule has been that if I ever hear a complaint or peep about my page from the kids or BM for any reason I will remove them and not look back. In the year I've been on there I haven't heard anything and I know that BM might be looking at my stuff through the kids so I keep it pretty PC...I mean, my grandma is on there too so it's not like I want to offend her with stuff either.

    My computer is exactly that...mine. I lock it every time I walk away from it, and if the kids ever invaded my privacy I would make sure their computers were taken away.