Social Media: Do You Really Know Your Friends?

Social Media: How Well Do You Know Your Friends?

Social Media: How Well Do You Know Your Friends?

How well do you think you know your friends on social media? You may have tweeted, Direct Messaged (DM’ed), sent messages on Facebook, and yet…do you really know them? Recently, I had an experience with someone  I thought I knew who turned out to be very different. The person I thought I knew was a funny, kind, tech-savvy guy living in another part of the country. We had virtual friends in common, discussed meeting up at conferences, chatted about all kinds of things, and yet…

Something Happened

One evening, out of nowhere, a mutual friend contacted me and told me that this person (let’s call him Terry Rantula) had been DMing her. Terry had been ranting at her, telling her all kinds of lies about me, and she now she was warning me not to trust him. I couldn’t believe it until she forwarded me the messages–messages saying that he had “turned my business around,” and that I had not paid him “for all his hard work.” We had never worked together. Never.

Warning Signs

Looking back, did I somehow overlook the warning signs?

Avatar Instead of a Photo

Terry only has an avatar, so really he could be anyone. He could even be a she, when you think about it. If the person doesn’t ever want to share photos of themselves, then you don’t really know who you’re talking to.

No Real Name on His Profile

His name does not appear in his tweets or on his Twitter profile. On Facebook, he uses a pseudonym. Again, without any real photo. By the way, there are some photos that you should never use as your Facebook photo.

Inexplicable Ranting

How well do you know your virtual friends?

How well do you know your virtual friends?

Thinking back on it, Terry had ranted to me in the exact same way about someone else whom he said hadn’t paid him. He’d sent about 24 DMs about this person (whom I didn’t know) late one night. I had no reason to not believe him, and yet, I couldn’t understand why he’d chosen to share this information with me (it was sharing, yet it was not social). We had not been having a conversation about it–yet there were two dozen DMs all in a row. That could have been a tipoff, and yet if we were truly friends, it wouldn’t be so unusual.


Terry had complained/bragged about getting drunk. He was proud when he got beer for free. Another red flag?

Living with Parents

While living with one’s parents isn’t necessarily a negative thing, Terry kvetched that the p’s complained about noise. He couldn’t talk too loudly, and one of them had wrecked the car that was going to be his. He was about to hit a milestone birthday, and had no job, no car, and was living with his parents. That was the last time we DMed on Twitter, and all of that information came out all at once.


How Well Do You Know Your Friends?

How Well Do You Know Your Friends?

I wrestled with whether to share this. Now that some time has gone by, I think sharing this story might strike a chord with someone else. I don’t mean to be negative because: law of attraction. And the positives of being on social media far outweigh the negatives. But truthfully, sometimes things like this happen. I don’t really know if there’s a moral to this story because sometimes people can be unpredictable.

Even if you know someone in real life, strange things can happen. This is an unusual post for me because I don’t have this story all tied up in a pretty box with a bow on it. I just wanted to share and maybe see what other people thought.

Anything Like This Happen to You?

Can you mourn the loss of a friend you’ve never met? How did you handle it? Leave me a comment below! And you don’t have to name names!

Note: No real tarantulas were harmed in the telling of this story.






  1. Terry Rantula. That’s great.

    I’m sorry for this experience.

    That’s why we get the block option, I guess.

    Ya. Twitter is about relationships and, therefore, by extension trust. You have to give a bit of trust to get the relationship account going. I hate getting burned like that.

    Mostly what happens to me is people want me to promote their stuff without any reciprocation. If I can do something for them, then we’re friends.

  2. Hi Carol,
    Sorry to hear of your experience. I usually check the person’s profile quickly, and if there are nothing but porn references or extreme cursing, I immediately block ’em. That’s a big clue! ;)

    • Hi Penelope,
      Yes, porn references and extreme cursing are great clues. Unfortunately, not everyone has such clear labels! If they did, the world would be much simpler. Thank you for commenting! Much appreciated!

  3. Lisa Eldridge says

    You hold him; I’ll stab him.

  4. I had a stalker on FB once. The person relentlessly viewed ALL of my images and commented on EACH one…creepy. I put the atomic block on the person. I then received an email asking why I had blocked? Finally went away.

    • Hi Allen,

      Wow. That is creepy. You just never know what people are thinking.

      That happened to a friend of mine just yesterday! She went to block the person and he was already gone. Someone else probably reported him as Spam.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Kim Stebbins says

    I’m late here, I missed a lot in the past week due to more pressing issues at work, but here I am thanks to you tweeting Bridget Willard’s blog post and and in that post, Bridget linked to this (I love how these things work!). Wow, what an encounter you had! There are crazies everywhere (just read a few comments on You Tube if you want to think the world’s gone to hell in a hand basket). I think social media brings out even more crazy! Haters, trolls and flamers abound. Crazy people can be even crazier when hiding behind an anonymous gravitar, user name etc. I believe that for some, social media is a channel for releasing one’s inner badness! Whole theses have been written about this. Maybe a good rule of thumb would be to just not engage with those hiders? Though I am behind a company gravitar while working, I put my real name on our Twitter profile and I often sign my tweets, comments, etc.
    Even with the crazies, I still enjoy social media very much. There is a wealth of knowledge and entertainment to be found through these outlets and making friends is fun too. Thanks for for pointing out the warning signs and reminding us to be vigilant.
    Kim Stebbins

    • Hi Kim,
      Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule…I appreciate that very much. Yes, it has been crazy lately! And I believe that those who are newer to the internet tend to say things that they would never say in real life, face-to-face. I’ve found that it’s best to err on the side of kindness and the benefit of the doubt.
      That is great about signing your tweets and posts. People do love to engage with other people. And the positives really do far outweigh the negatives. I’ve met so many wonderful people. But I wanted to talk about the other side, as well.
      Thanks again, Kim!

      • Kim Stebbins says

        After reading this post and thinking on it, I decided to change my Gravitar to my picture (even though it’s not such a good one) and I made a separate one for Next Level–they are both attached to the same WordPress account so I guess I can go back and forth, depending on where I am or what I am commenting on, but I have feeling I might not remember to do that. Oh well, I was sick of having a green face! I do have another WordPress account that’s not associated with business at all, just to confuse myself even more, lol. Oh, btw, I am going to Word camp next week in Birmingham. It’s 2 days–the one here in Nashville that I missed was only 1 day–and I am super excited!

        • Hi Kim,
          Nice to see your face (yes, that must have been tiring–having a green face!). People will remember you more if you have a picture of you on your account.
          And congrats on going to WordCamp! I hope you have as much fun as I did!

  6. Hi Carol ,
    Great posts .
    I like social media , but it has a extremely dark side. When people write they can express themselves differently than face to face, unfortunately I learned this early on when traveling for business and dealing with coworkers through email . Social media just makes it easier for you to come out and say what you always wanted to say but could not , because u are not face to face . Some People are even multiples! When you are dealing with with friends ( and I use the term loosely ) through social media , there is always some sort of adjustment in character in what you thought you knew . That is why it is best to keep personal away from business. There are never real friends in business.

    Love the article as always

    • Hi Natalie,
      Social media does have a dark side that shouldn’t be ignored. And some people haven’t been online for very long–sometimes I think those are the people who aren’t being careful about editing what they say. I’ve made friends through business connections, but you’re right–it’s not always the best idea.

      Thanks so much for commenting! I appreciate it.

  7. That’s kind of hilarious… I’m sorry! Haha. The drinking tweet is a red flag though? I understand if they’re tweeting all the time, but I’ve shared my joy at free/ridiculously cheap alcohol before! Does that make me a Twitter foe?

    PS. Your archives are gold.

  8. I’ve had them go quiet. Leaving me to assume it was something I said or didn’t say.

  9. Yes, common sense rules as far as deciding who’s spam and who’s not! Thanks for commenting! I really appreciate it.


  10. Thanks for the shoutout, Bridget Willard!


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