Sunday, August 05, 2007

Potpourri and Reasons for Anonymity

My computer crashed last week and took some ideas and rough drafts down with it. In the meantime, things have happened…

Crazy Aunt Purl (link on the right) has also become addicted to “How Clean is Your House?” I’d like to be mad at her for stealing my latest minor obsession, but she’s too funny.

School is starting for my kids soon, which means Large Checks must be written, and that makes me crabby. If I write when I’m crabby, I seem much more dangerous and zealous than I actually am in person, so I usually use crabby writing as rough drafts. Most of the time, anyway.

And, on another blog, someone clearly illustrated why I don’t use my real name or my kids’ real names, and why I don’t post pictures of my children or myself. I deliberately, and possibly irritatingly, do not use information that would make me or my children accessible via an ordinary Google search for name, address, map location, Google Earth picture of my house (and thereby neighborhood and vehicles), etc. I’ve already made it clear that I live in a particular small town. I talk about family things, personal experiences and feelings.

I also talk about my women’s group, and I’ve said before that this group is for women who have suffered abuse, generally child abuse and frequently sexual abuse to the extent that every last one of us has complex PTSD. All of us have met evil, and we know how insidious and devious it is. If I were to knowingly and deliberately expose enough of my personal information to people who don’t know me otherwise, I would also expose my children.

This link takes you to an article about a blatant pedophile whom the police cannot arrest. I do not want to give people like this an easy path to my children, not to leering perversely at pictures of them, not to sniffing out locating information, not to finding their schools and stalking them. There are too many like him out there for my comfort level to allow me to make myself and my family a Google Earth Easy Target. Sure, the shrewd among you, or those who already know me wouldn’t have a problem finding me. It’s not YOU I’m worried about. I just refuse to bait a hook and leave it in a pool as big as the Internet, so to speak.

And, there are all brands of psychos and sickos fluttering around on the Internet looking for marks, for easy conquests, for something they want. Luckily, they are most often greedy and lazy, which works in my favor. If I can stay off the radar of the greedy crooks and the lazy perverts, then I figure I’ve done a pretty good job of balancing the act of having a publicly accessible blog and maintaining my family’s security without descending into sufficient paranoia to keep me off the net altogether.

Pedophiles, who are inherently stalkers, regular stalkers (is there such a thing?) and extremely nosy people, of whom I am occasionally one, have a quality lacking in your garden-variety criminal – persistence. They are also frequently intelligent and creative thinkers. It is harder to maintain security from them. On the occasions when I have been very nosy, usually about people with whom my children interact regularly, I have been astonished at how easy it was to find out information without spending a nickel and without leaving my keyboard. A Google search is usually enough to reveal snail trails that can lead me back to some information folks might not want me to have. Free. Readily accessible. Downloadable. Printable.

I sometimes read blogs or comments from people loudly proclaiming that they are “proud to not be anonymous” or “use their full names because [they] stand behind what they say,” and I think to myself, “And now, if I wanted to, I could find you, your house, your family, probably guess your bank, and, depending on what else you’ve said, guess some passwords, find your email, poison your dog, or any other piece of life-jolting criminal behavior I might chose to engage in. I’d know what email groups you’re on and what you’ve said, and that would reveal further information.” And so forth. The FBI has some good tips for maintaining privacy and reasonable security, as does the Internet Safety Awareness site.

So, I remain moderately anonymous without apology. I don’t expect others to feel the same way about it I do; your experiences may be different, and probably don’t include the contact level with madness and evil that mine have. My antennae are, and will, for the rest of my life, be somewhat more sensitive than those of many. If it helps to keep my children safe, and I think it does, I cannot regret it.

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