Have you ever had one of those Internet moments where after you have allowed your fingers to type the first thing that came to your mind you wondered if maybe you shouldn’t have done it? I’m not just talking about typing a reply or comment that maybe it would have been best if you hadn’t responded. I’m talking about divulging personal information before even realizing that you’ve done it.
I, until a short while ago, would have thought myself to be wise on the topic of security. I always say I don’t trust anybody—which is both good and bad I guess. But I had this experience where I knew the person—online—for several years actually so when he asked me the question I just answered it. It wasn’t until I shot the email off that I started to think that I probably shouldn’t have typed that. When he asked me the question I just didn’t think about not answering it. But after sending that email with the “oh no, that’s my (insert stupid supply of information here)” I followed that with a mental. “You IDIOT! What were you thinking?”
Yes, I’m still slapping myself because I don’t know this guy. I mean I know him online, but how much can you really know somebody online? For example I met a guy I actually had come to respect. We had some things in common, but we weren’t thinking of the whole dating game or anything, just friends. How do I know he’s a guy? How do I know that he’s not a woman pretending to be a man? Or that anything he has told me about himself is even close to being true? I realized then that perhaps I do trust too much, no matter how much I say that I don’t. I do tend to give people the benefit of the doubt that they’re not lying to me. As one of my former colleagues would say, “They’re all lying to you. Everybody’s lying to you.” I should have believed him because maybe then I wouldn’t just assume that the guy in state X is really a guy, or that he’s really in state X for that matter. But I think because I know who I am, and I know that I’m a woman, that I just assume if a guy says he’s a guy online that he’s really a guy. I mean why lie about it?
I met one of my best friends online and she is the very person she has been representing herself to be; I think maybe that might have allowed me to just get a little too comfortable with other people I have known online for a while, when really I shouldn’t have.
So how real are you? And how real should you be? I’ll tell you what my extreme lapse in judgment has reminded me of:
- Safety first. Never, ever, divulge information online to people you don’t know. Yeah, we’ve known each other in cyberspace for the last five years, but that’s all we know is letters on a monitor. We don’t know each other.
- Never get so comfortable with somebody you don’t know that you forget everything that you do know. Seriously, I know it’s a dumb idea to let information slip; from the weather we’re having to my original home state, I really know it’s dumb to hand over that information to somebody I don’t really know. So never, never get so comfortable that you let your guard falter.
- When you make an idiotic mistake don’t mentally call yourself an idiot because there is nothing you can do about it now. Well, I guess you could stress about it for the next year or two and wonder just what that person is doing with that lovely bit of information you so freely gave them.
- Well, four kind of leads me back to one on this: NEVER let your guard down online. Be smarter.
So if my moment of just crazy stupid lapse in sanity dropping my guard can help you learn a lesson then I’m glad to share with you. Please, by all means, learn from my mistake. Just be smarter, be safer, and don’t let yourself get so comfortable that you forget that there are just some things that it really is okay to keep private online.
That’s all for this time. More Dish next week, same time, same place.