Trial separation: Fear, Twitter and falling out of ‘virtual’ loveClaire Cater, 21 April, 2015
I was blissfully in love until my cyber world was invaded, system hacked and I discovered, the ‘pain’ and the dark side of our bright shiny screens.
My beloved cyber world and the comfort of the screen – the first thing I wake up to and, often, the last thing I look at before sleeping (I know I’m not the only one – even if you try to peak without your other half noticing). The sound of Twitter-like birdsong lifts my sprits with words that inspire and films that make me laugh and cry, and the joy of being noticed on LinkedIn. I have loved my ‘virtual world’ and blurred cyber conversations with flesh.
Until recently I never doubted it. I have trusted it, relied on it, wanted it, needed it and felt reassured by it. I even thought I could control it.
My beautiful Mac (Martha) and my phone, opening up my world every day to the answers, values, connections, plans, possibilities and pleasure. I don’t like leaving the house without them.
It’s a terrifying thought when you find someone has invaded your world, been on your screen alongside you for days on end, watching and knowing your every move. Especially when they decide to make themselves known and threaten your security. Once in, there is little they don’t know. Cyber crime is apparently common and growing. The police can’t keep up. What can they do about someone half way across the world, whose name you don’t know and face you wouldn’t recognise?
The monster under the bed – that’s how it feels. An intruder with a mask who makes no noise. You keep thinking they will jump out at any moment.
My screen became a place of fear and ‘my virtual intruder’ invaded my every waking moment.
I discovered three things:
- Who my friends were – some related and supported in a way I never thought possible
- The power of a cyber expert – the police could do little, so I had to employ the help of an expert who was nothing short of ‘Superman’ – handling the detail, the security advice and helping me through the fear to regain some control. I can’t recommend him enough.
- How vulnerable we are – exposed by every stroke of the key if you don’t take your security more seriously.
Twitter gets a special mention
If you need to temporarily deactivate your account, you have 30 days to reactivate it… or do you? Twitter ‘lost’ mine and whilst they didn’t have time to reply to Tweets, they did find time to hide our messages when we complained. That was disappointing. We had tried everything to get in touch only to receive automated messages.
So what’s good and bad? 5 tips to keep your cyber relationship on track
Good: The broadening of your network and knowledge and the power of connection.
Bad: The value is not as great, and the relationships and knowledge often not as deep without human connection.
Don’t forget people – the real ones in the flesh.
Good: You have access to so much of it at the stroke of a key.
Bad: You might trust it too easily and it might stifle your enquiring mind and creative thought.
So sit still and think occasionally and talk not type.
Good: You can access so much of it online, in many forms, and share it with others.
Bad: There is a lot that is bad that can be found at the stroke of a key – corrupting minds and organisations and hiding behind emails and a screen can bring out the worst behaviours in some people who say and do things they would never do over a phone or face-to-face.
Invest in your physical pleasures, the things you can touch not just see. If you wouldn’t say it – don’t type it and if you don’t like it – pick up the phone.
Good: You can stay current and plugged in to the issues, the trends and the people in your cyber world.
Bad: Others are plugged in to you too, jeopardising your security and privacy. You might also miss out on being more than plugged but part of something real which can only come with time and human connection.
Get out and connect with the world. Speak to people, meet, great and go to those events you think you might not have time for. You rarely regret it. Human connection is more memorable – for everyone involved.
Good: The cloud allows us to store and share in ways we hadn’t thought possible.
Bad: When someone else is on your cloud, life and work can feel like a storm has erupted. It could be the disruption of rain or a tornado leaving behind destruction and loss.
So keep your cyber love safe – literally. Pay attention to security and keep balance in your relationship between the virtual and the real.
Since I wrote this, my hackers got nasty. They tried to take my money and much more. Let’s hope they are caught.
After a trial separation, me and my cyber world are trying again. We’ve learnt a lot. We are still in love (just not blind love) but will never take each other for granted again. I will listen to advice on security and I won’t give up my real world. We can learn to trust each other once more (with boundaries) and we will both be way more interesting.