Once upon a time, long long ago, when you acted like an ass or crazy lady, or just did something plain stupid, mean or funny, the story spread as quickly as one could tell two friends. And then they’d tell two friends, and so on and so on.

But we no longer live in Faberge Shampoo¬†kinda times. You don’t need two friends anymore. You just need a blog, Twitter or Facebook account. Share your tale blindly in cyberspace and before you know it, everyone knows the kind of shampoo you use.

The internet and social media move rants, rumours, and general backstabbery at lightning speed. Privacy isn’t private anymore. There is a crisis, expose or “come to Jesus” moment around every corner.

I am often encouraged to write more about dating and being single. Maybe because everyone wants a Carrie Bradshaw in their life? And I have been hesitant to do that for two reasons. A) I share enough of myself through this blog and Twitter and I just think you can’t give everything away. There’s still a place for my poker face.¬† And B) to talk about being single and dating means I have to talk about the guys I encounter.

Now admittedly, there are some damn fine stories that come with those encounters. But anytime you write about your experiences with other people, particularly with dating, and even if you do the respectful thing and don’t name people but instead give them nicknames like pirates or spark-killers (as I did in my Single and the City post) or just write in generalities, various people will wonder if you’re talking about them:

“Was she referring to me when she wrote about men that don’t know how to kiss (and therefore never will)?”

“Could I be that man that acted like the girl in the relationship?”

“Am I the guy she consistently and vehemently calls Liar/Cheat/Coward?”

“I know I have to be the one she says she can’t stop thinking about and hopes will call.”

“Maybe I am the one that annoyed her with random and too regular texts/tweets “just to say hi!!!!”?”

“Which one was I in that post you wrote about being single?”

“She wrote about all those other guys…what is she going to say about me??”

Now you are probably thinking, I am not going to date you, Jennifer, so who cares and write away! Here’s what I would say. You’ve probably cut someone off in traffic once and ended up as the subject of a tweet. You might have had a bad day or were rude to some cashier/server/receptionist and ended up in a comment on their Facebook page. You might have accidently made someone jealous, insecure or cross and became the subject of a blog post. Most of the public rants against you, you will likely never know anything about. But when you first discover a tweet or post that was inspired by your actions, it makes you take a step back and have your own, this is actually happening moment, as you realize our world gives incredible power to anyone with a keyboard. And that’s a scary thing. I believe there’s still room in our social media times for class, respect, and a degree of privacy, and as such, this post is as far as I go with writing about the boys and men I have encountered.

Here’s what you should tell your two friends. Consider everything “on the record”. We are all one tweet or blog post away from being exposed, labeled, made fun of, and/or judged (rightly or wrongly) in public.

And if you still wonder if you’ve been referenced in a blog…maybe, just maybe, you were memorable enough that it really is about you.