This is something I have wanted to talk about for a long time, but haven’t had the time to write up something intelligent. Unfortunately, it is late and I am tired, so the chances of this being a coherent post are slim, but you will get the gist of it.
The issue I wanted to talk about is privacy on the net. Well, not privacy as in: here is my bank account number, my ID number and my secret PIN, please help yourself to all my money. Not that kind of privacy. Perhaps I am talking more about anonymity. A bit of a mixture of both.
Oh bloody hell, I should actually wait until I am not tired to write this up, but that might only happen in 3-4 years time.
Let’s start again.
Let’s first talk about anonymity on the net. Like for example, on the bulletin boards. People have various non-identifying pseudonyms, like TryingForMore, or NYCchick etc. Me? My user name has always been Tertia. I am about as anonymous as a self-addressed envelope, and I really am totally ok with that. What I have to say anonymously is the same as what I would say openly. I am who I am, and I feel no need to hide behind anonymity. Not that there is anything wrong with it, if that is what you choose, but I guess I just don’t understand the reason for it?
I don’t get the whole sphincter-clenching paranoia of revealing info about yourself online. (Clearly not – see semi-nekkid pic below!) Let’s take the Facebook example. I friend everyone who wants to be Facebook friends with me, unless you are clearly a pervert or an asshole. But otherwise, if our only connection is that you read my blog, then why the hell not be FB friends. You can only read what I choose to put on there and quite honestly if the fact that I had a burger for lunch is going to turn you on / excite you / ignite you or anything else, then good for you. Yes, you might get to see what my favourite movies are, or what I did last night, but WHO CARES? Not me.
Yesterday I posted a Google Map of my house on the Net. Five years ago, when I just started blogging, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But clearly some of your paranoia has rubbed off on me, and two seconds after I posted it, I went back and edited the images to take the coordinates off.
(As I am busy writing this, a dear blog reader has managed to find the coordinates of my house within 10 minutes. Oh dear.)
Not 24 hours after putting up the post, the comments started from concerned blog readers (actually really sweet of you to be concerned for me! You’re not a bad lot) who were worried about me putting up those pics.
And then I started to worry that maybe I should be worried! Maybe I should be worried about…………WHAT! I don’t know! What will someone do with the information if they know where I live? Stalk me? Break into my house? I don’t know?
Because I blog so openly – you all know my full name, place of work and bra size, if you really wanted to stalk me, you could find me pretty quickly.
So maybe I should worry about that??? But again, what should I be worried about? What is someone going to do with this information?
Yes, I know, someone impersonated me on the internet recently. Made up an entire life for themselves, based on my story, my photos of my kids etc. But that didn’t freak me out, I actually felt sorry for her. What harm did she do to me directly? None.
Look, I know I can be pretty naïve. I will be the first to admit that. My husband wants to KILL me sometimes for how naïve and trusting I am, but quite honestly, I do not see the danger in these issues.
I am far far FAR more concerned about someone breaking into my house, about rape and murder than I am about any internet stalker. Maybe it is because I live in South Africa, a country that has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Maybe because we live behind locked doors and windows, in security estates, with 24 guards patrolling the estate. Maybe because we have electric fences and guard dogs, laser beams and alarms.
Maybe it is because we live with real danger every day, that we, or at least I, don’t see the threatened danger in this? I don’t know.
I am not sure if the anonymity thing has anything to do with the privacy thing, whether either have any thing to do with posting google maps pics of your house on the Internet. I am not sure. These are just thoughts swirling around in my head.
But I am interested to hear what you think. Why do you choose to post / blog / comment anonymously? Why do the google maps of my house make you feel uncomfortable inside? Why does your sphincter clench when it comes to privacy / anonymity on the Net? What are you paranoid about? What do you think might happen?
Now: A little lesson in how to answer the questions above:
The wrong way:
“I think you are very irresponsible to …………”
“well, I would never do XYZ because it is wrong!”
“it is foolish and stupid to put pictures of your house on the internet”
“My way is the only right way, therefore you are wrong and an irresponsible stupid person.”
The right way:
“What would worry me is ………….”
“I choose to do XYZ because I feel ……………”
“These are my fears….”
“you are a magnificent specimen, please let me adorn you with jewels and riches”
Ok, I almost lost this entire post because my computer clearly hates me and everything about me and just crashed. An HOUR after starting it! Thank fuck it managed to save some of it. But it really is time for bed, I can’t even see straight anymore. Too tired to spell check, grammar check, offensive check (check to see whether, god forbid, I have unintentionally offended anyone in this post). If I have offended anyone, please accept my apology in advance and unequivocally. Grammar police, take a deep breath and look the other way.
I am going to bed, be gentle.