Skip to main content

The Darkside of Social Media

One simple desire to build a word with seven little random tiles in an on-line game called Scrabble has led me down a path of destruction where I woke this morning to find my identity has been erased.   You would think that sitting on your sofa with your children while they do homework would be a fairly harmless event.   While piddling around on the computer, my son told me about an online game site where I can play Scrabble with strangers.  Sounds fun, I thought!  As I began to register to play, I discovered a button that says I can connect with my Facebook account.  How easy… How thoughtful of them to give me this option.   Oddly when I did this, I was instantly in my account with the screen name  “Darkside 902”.  Honestly, that should have been my first red flag.  But no… I wandered down this road oblivious to the violations I was incurring.  Curious about this seemingly dark identity, I asked my children how this came to be.   My daughter informed me that the screen name was just randomly assigned.  I should have known better.  My son gave me a better explanation that his friend was on my laptop and tried to connect when I must have had my Facebook running in the background.  This seemed reasonable and I bought it.  I tried to change my screen name, but I was stuck as Darkside902.  Heck – all I wanted to do was build a word or two, so I continued on my journey.   I didn’t know that my name would be posted on the side screen where I could chat with other gamers.    While “ButterCup78”, “LuluSmiles”, and “PJinMaine” built words fast and furiously, they chatted it up on the sidelines.  Nobody wanted to talk to Darkside 902.  Somehow I felt alone – ostracized by a bunch of alphabet wielding strangers.  I built a seven letter, 32 point word and exited the room with my head hung in shame from a name I never chose and somehow couldn’t change.   I closed the computer and went to bed – unaware what was occurring in the background.  As I woke, I discovered that my Facebook account had been disabled without warning.  No reason was given - just an immediate removal from the virtual world where I have 542 friends, 1050 pictures of my children and two messages from people I haven’t seen in 30 years.   I’m being punished and I don’t even know what I did wrong.   In the pit of my stomach, I know that it has something to do with that damn Darkside 902.  I knew it was trouble.   The name, alone, screamed trouble!   Years ago, my ten year old son was banned for life from a very large on-line gaming community for “real-world” selling.   Seems he figured out how to quickly earn large amount of points, buy precious commodities and sell them on eBay where he would then meet the buyer in the virtual world and hand over the golden axes, cloaks of invisibility and crowns of honor.  This, it seems, was a frowned upon practice.   I found quickly that there was no phone number to contact anyone on the website.  Your only hope for reason is a one-time appeal where you can state your case and hope that the virtual judges and demi-Gods will shed their grace on you and forgive you.   I wrote a letter that would make my college English professor proud and apologized for my little boy’s indiscretions.  An almost instant response came back that simply said, “NO – He may not play our game.  You may ask again, once only, and we may reconsider.”    I found that the site owners were from somewhere outside the boundries of the United States and did not have a similar justice system as we.  Nor did they have compassion, forgiveness or toll-free numbers.  I could picture them laughing on their little medieval island of pages and pawns enjoying those requests for forgiveness of sins.   After begging for mercy a second time, they now informed me that they were slapping my child’s hand from across the water and that he would never mine for oar again on their lands.  We accepted defeat and moved on to other interests.   I can only hope that the owners of Facebook do not live on that same island of exclusivity and want me to come on bended knee to beg for mercy for unknown crimes.    They too, offer no real-world contact… just a button that takes me to an appeal page where I can upload a government issued I.D. to prove my identity and hope for the best.  There is no space for comments, questions, or pleas.  I believe I am slowly transforming to Darkside 902 who is standing outside the social media world with my hat in my hand begging for mercy.  Oh wait … that would be a hooded cape in hand.  I forget who I am sometimes!


Popular posts from this blog

The Mink That Made Its Way Home

             When I was five years old, my grandmother would care for me before school each day.  She would turn the stereo console on and play big band music from the 40's.  I remember dressing up in her mink stole as we danced around the living room spinning and twirling to the classics.  She told me that one day the mink would be mine and I hoped that I would be as beautiful as she was wrapped in luxurious mink.     Time, of course, came and went and my grandmother passed away many years ago.  I have often wondered what happened to her mink stole and wished that I could wear it just one more time.  Little did I know, my grandmother had given the stole to her daughter and sometime during the early 80's when fur was not fashionable and we were wearing hideous things like leather pants and spandex, my aunt tossed the mink into the Goodwill bin near her home. She did not know that anyone actually wanted the mink and donated it to charity.  She told me she remembers lo

Dear Future Me

  Getting emails from old friends is always nice, but what a surprise to find an email that I sent to myself last year, only to be delivered exactly one year later.  It began "Dear Future Me".  This letter from my past to an older version of me had only one line.... "What have you accomplished over the past year?"   I thought this was rather brilliant as it prompted me to reflect on the year and what I had or had not accomplished.  My children were quick to interrupt my quiet reflections and point out that my one sentence email was lame and lacked details.  You can always count on your children for brutal honesty.  They educated me on how I should have talked about what I was doing a year ago and described what that day was like.  So.... with that being said, my children and I crafted our next letter... "Dear Future Us"   The letter began by explaining that it was close to midnight on a school night and my children should be in bed.  Instead, they

Peace, Love and What???

  There is nothing more precious than child innocence.  While it appears that this message may, indeed, be upside down, it seems that an upended pink ribbon is a call for better testing for earlier detection of breast cancer.  Who better to deliver such a message than a group of young girls with bright futures ahead of them?  While my daughter actually has no idea that she is holding the poster upside down, her mistake quietly sends a much more powerful message across this field. Who knows, but any one of these young ladies, excited about their part in participating in a campaign of hope, could go on to be the one to discover just such a test or cure.   So even if the symbols are upside down, or even fall to the ground, our youth are learning to be a part of something bigger than themselves and might just one day deliver this message exactly as they innocently displayed this Fall day in their youth.   Picture by Kathi Kolb