(below is an updated version of this article)
“I’m an open book”, said the naive person.
I’M AN OPEN BOOK! Some even brag about it like it’s a badge of honor. I learned the hard way how naive a statement that is.
I remember one time I was out with friends and one of them said how they admired that I was the type of person that was the first to try new things or to do something new instead of just following what others think or did. Another friend laughed, “yea, Jim is the dumb one that does it first and finds out all the mistakes so the rest of us don’t have to go through it”. They both were probably right.
I remember going online years ago as a kid. I was in wonder over the internet. I put in an AOL disk that I got in the mail. At 14.8, the speed at that time seemed so fast. The internet really didn’t have that many websites but I was amazed. Over time I started using things like Yahoo, EBAY and Paypal.
I have always wanted to think that everyone has good in them. In reality our culture has changed and not for the better. Morals and character are harder to find and the evil that we see in the news is pretty scary. Are all people bad? Of course not; but ask the thousands that get bullied online every day how things have changed.
(one billion people lose their identity in Yahoo security breach)
How Social Media & The Internet Has Changed Our Communication:
The internet and social media is fun and has a lot of great rewards, but it also has a downfall. It has made many people dysfunctional communicators. Some people in business and in personal relationships are like Hemmingway in emails, texts and chats. Get them in person and their personality is that of a napping frog and their communication skills are as good as one of the Teletubbies. Look at people on dates; many don’t even talk to their partner. They are texting others, looking at videos or even flirting with other people. Go to a movie theater and try to find people that aren’t texting someone. We have the attention spans of puppies on espresso and as a culture, we seem to use guesses, mind reading skills or jedi mind tricks to communicate with each other instead of just talking directly.
We Are Much More Open to Promote Quicker Communication:
Most Psychology studies shows that it takes a good year to really get to know someone. That’s a lifetime now. Instead of getting to know each other, we use Facebook, Linkedin, and Match.com, or other sites to almost “instantly” learn about someone. The problem is it’s shallow, lazy and dysfunctional at times. It takes time to get to know people whether we are finishing each others sentences or not. I’ve seen people move in with others after days of meeting someone on a dating site or they go into business with someone they barely know after meeting online. It’s sheer madness. We want it and we want it now. The problem is you have to build a foundation be it business or in your personal relationships, and it’s more than a profile or mouse click away. Affiliate marketing is a huge part of internet business and in reality you are joining an unknown business run by people you don’t know. It has a 95% fail rate for a reason.
I’ve lost my identity twice and I once was used in a scam. Between scammers and EBAY itself, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Once two German hackers got into my EBAY account and started to put up fake adds selling high end Apple products and ended up stealing about $30,000 from people having bidders send them money by western union.
The Dangers of Being An Open Book With Online Dating:
I remember being an open book on Facebook the last 5 years especially in the dating scene when I became single. After a while people would show up uninvited to my house and work. I had one girl that I chatted with a couple of times do a search on me and found my business. We had coffee once and I knew she was not the person for me plus she looked too young. One day I came into my office to see patients in the afternoon and my secretary said, “you’re girlfriend is here”. Well that was strange because at the time I didn’t have one. I walked in and this cute young girl who couldn’t have been 22 was there. I asked her what was going on. I talked to her long enough to make sure she didn’t have an ax or Lizzie Borden tattoo, but I still wasn’t comfortable. I eventually got rid of her.
One night when I was coming home from work, a man was sitting on my porch. It ended up being a patient; kind of a borderline mentally ill patient that was a pretty scary guy. He found my information from LinkedIn and Facebook and did a search on me and found my home address. It was 11:30 pm and he asked if we could talk and if he could come in. I actually saw my neighbor looking at him and I talked him into leaving and that if he was having issues that he should go to the ER. I slept with a loaded gun next to my bed just in case.
I write online at times for political sites and I was Mr. Open Book then too. Unfortunately I said something some people didn’t like and I started getting death threats. Someone emailed me a photo of my front yard saying he was watching me. I called the police but I was paranoid whenever anyone came by.
The worst situation I had was a girl I met online and we started to talk. She lived near me and asked to meet. We met a couple of times and would text and talk on the phone sometimes but just friends stuff. There was just something not right with her and my spidey sense was tingling. I told her that we should be online friends and that maybe one of these days we could get together again but that I was really busy at work. I’m not a sleazy person and I don’t sleep around like a lot of people do so I just felt uncomfortable with being that close.
Some pretty girls rarely if ever hear the word no from a guy and she didn’t take it well. She went crazy. She started freaking out telling me who did I think I was and that she could get guys 100 times better than I was. She then said I was messing with her and that no one messed with her and got away with it. I’ve always tried dating the sweet, girl next door types so the psycho high maintenance I’m going to kill you while you sleep type of girls were never my thing.
At about 12:30 am I began to get texts. Now I have a lot of friends that text me at that time because they are night owls and usually bored; but this was different. It was a girl asking to meet and have sex. She then began to talk about things that we can do that I’m not quite sure are physically possible; I mean I looked it up and I don’t think those parts go together or can bend that way but I still could be wrong. Anyways, I texted her back saying she had the wrong guy and told her to stop texting me. I found out that angry woman had put an ad with all of my information and photo on a sex add on Craigslist. Craigslist actually told me to call the police. I warned her and she took the ad down. Instead of taking my time and being careful, I was an open book with all of my personal information on Facebook and LinkedIn and I let my walls down.
(Yahoo scans emails to give to the government)
Protect Your Photos:
You want to talk about open books, just go on Twitter or instagram. People put up naked or sexual photos literally potentially ruining their reputation. I knew a nurse once who got fired and many felt the reason was her Facebook photos that were extremely sexual.
It just blows me away how people can send near strangers naked photos of themselves and even videos. It’s both dumb and risky at the same time and lacks class. I know many are insecure these days needing lots of attention but man. Once something is on the internet it is there forever! Photos are easily stolen and I found out the hard way how people can use them to try and embarrass you or make you look bad.
Take Back Your Privacy:
I realized then that between big business pimping out our web surfing habits, locations, purchasing habits, and all of our social media information, I was not going to be used or exposed. Now Samsung admits to recording us through some of their tv’s and appliances are the next to hook us up online. Unfortunately there is only so much we can do to protect our information, but I’m determined to keep my accounts as private as possible.
I finally said “enough”. I had written for many publications online but I started over. I got a pen name and I stopped posting up family photos and giving personal information. I closed all of my social media sites and started over. I told my 3000 Facebook followers that I was moving on and that it had gotten too weird for me. Magically all of the drama ended shortly after.
A New Lease on MY Online Life:
I started to write again and it felt good to not be weighed down by internet drama. I’ve now restarted and I’ve been much less open online. The drama is mostly gone. Even though I have over 40k followers on my two Twitter accounts, I keep people at a distance. I now don’t have to deal with the nonsense. I don’t put my real birthday online, or my address or my name, and I’ve slowly created safe, fun and healthy online relationships with some turning into friendships. I’ve used Google voice for contact phone numbers and I feel much safer.
Social media and technology has entrenched a high level of trust in the latest generations and I worry about them. Corporations have slowly eroded their sense of privacy and their respect for it. I think some would put blood sample results online if they were asked to; they are open books and trust everyone. They don’t have any money now but when they get older and start making money, taking their identities will be like taking candy from a baby because they are so trusting. It’s even a risk with our money. When I met with my banker once he spoke under his breath and told me not to use the banking application because in reality financial apps in his opinion were not safe.
Linked in is the worst. Why in the world would I tell about myself and my business to people that are competitors so they could know what I am doing and what I’m working on. I was taught to keep things under wraps.
It used to drive one of my ex girlfriends insane when every where we went; or even if I was online; people would tell me their life stories. I’ve talked to people at times who will tell me their most innermost secrets and I barely know them. Maybe in a way people are just lonely and with all of the dysfunctional communications, they just need a human being to actually talk to in person.
The Moral of The Story:
People can do what they want but I think people need to wake up and not be open books. For our jobs some of us are forced to be as open as possible but on our personal accounts it’s our choice. The world isn’t as safe a place anymore and people need to be much more careful. You shouldn’t be a fearful hermit, but you also shouldn’t be Shirley Temple. It takes one identity theft, one bad thing said online, or one picture to ruin a reputation and cause years of headaches. Sorry Steve Zuckerberg, Apple and Google; I’m not trusting you any more. Learn from my mistakes; I always make them before everyone else does.