December 05, 2007

How Safe Are Bloggers Outside The World Wide Web?

Danger on PC

What with the current rise of crimes in Malaysia, this has been bogging my mind for quite some time now. And quite frankly, it scares me.

Have you ever thought of how safe bloggers are when we're "offline"?

It's amazing of how much we subconsciously reveal to the world via the Internet. Through our words, we are read like an open book. We post pictures of ourselves on our blogs (some of us in skimpy bikinis, even). We post photographs of our children, our spouse, our family, our house, etc. We pretty much revealed to the world.

Are we safe?

We have flame wars with other bloggers on the Internet over sensitive matters such as religion, socio-political issues, etc. What if someone crosses the line and physically take that anger out on the real world?

Again, are we safe?

How different are the so-called celebrity bloggers from the local celebrities? Both are widely photographed and widely talked about (not in pay, I'd imagine :p).

Are these celeb bloggers safe too?

I once came across an article in a local magazine, which featured a very popular lady blogger. However, in the article, it was not mentioned that she was a blogger, just an average jane who won a competition. But I recognised her from the many photographs she posted of herself on her blog. Her real name was not mentioned in her blog, but in the article, her full name was published.

Anonymity is dead, people.

It's not difficult to find out where a blogger lives when he/she post photographs of their house, of the surroundings, etc. By following their blogs, the photographs could tell me where you live and where you work. By looking at the photographs you post of your living room, I know what valuables you have. By reading your journal, I know where you have been, and where you will be.

We're getting more and more recognised by any Tom, Dick and Sally with Internet access. With our blogs, our lives become someone else's life. We witnessed one's heartbreak, one's loss of a job, one's wedding, one's birth of a child, to one's death. Yet, we do not personally know them.

When we religiously follow another person's blog, do we come to a point where we get angry if he/she does not update often? Rejected if he/she leaves and stops blogging altogether? Have we then subconsciously become stalkers?

Having said all this, with our lives open for the world to see, could we also unwittingly become open targets for crimes?

What do you think?


Josh Incorrigible! said...

This is very well written!
I appreciate your sentiments about the Internet - that it gives a false sense of security to its community since it is an artificial world separate from the physical world. Unfortunately, we all know that with today's snoop tech - we can all be traced.

Good reminder to keep one's files securely locked out of the public's eyes.

Guess, I have to take out my baby pictures from my blog.

Adino said...

I agree with you, we're not as safe as we'd like to think. Some serious thoughts for me to consider after reading this, and time to do an audit on my blog.

Kamigoroshi said...

I've blogged about this years ago regarding one's privacy to the world. Anonymity isn't dead, it's just that most bloggers are complete hams when it comes trying to display ourselves to the world.

When it comes to that, you have to follow the basic common sense of keeping what you should keep to yourself. Some bloggers I know go as far as to not leave even a name or a picture and they do it so well. People like me, just don't give a place where we can be found. You can Google my name alright, but you'll only find online references.

I keep my online life online and leave critical details of my real life to myself. It helps when you've broken every laws that will get you prosecuted based on religious reasons.

zewt said...

this is why i have yet to really disclose myself in my blog... agree with you entirely.

Antares said...

Tine, you've posed a very topical question. Interesting that all the comments I've read so far only serve to reinforce your anxieties. Well, I shall speak on behalf of fearlessness and openness - qualities by which I gauge a person's integrity (and that applies to corporations, governments and countries). People expect businesses and governments to be "transparent" and "accountable" - yet in their own lives behave in exactly the opposite manner, saying they value their "privacy." And then they go to the church or mosque or temple and pray to some omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent deity who presumably knows their every thought, deed and word.

One thing I've learned is that all of us - whether we know it or not - create our own reality by projecting our thoughts into the matrix of manifestation. If our thoughts are mostly negative, you can be sure our experience of the world and of others will also be mostly negative. My own mother feared burglars so intensely she kept attracting burglars to her house!

I have hypochondriac friends who worry so much about germs and viruses they keep getting sick all the time. You know, I used to worry about the secret police. I was convinced my phone was tapped, my mail intercepted (those days we only had snailmail but it's even easier to intercept electronic mail). Then one day I decided to stop fearing the secret police. Whenever I was on the phone discussing something controversial and I heard some strange noises, I would interrupt the conversation and address the imaginary eavesdropper with something like: "Hello, if you're recording this I hope you'll stop and think about why you're doing it and who you're doing it for! I know that deep down inside you're a human being like me and don't want to be turned into a snitch and a robot by the corrupt government!"

After a while I noticed that my fear level was decreasing and my capacity to feel love and compassion was increasing. Then I read somewhere that a heart filled with fear has no room for love, and that really resonated.

Imagine a world full of fearful souls suspicious of one another, hoarding their little secrets and jealously guarding their illusory privacy. What an absolute hell!

It's within our power to create heaven on earth by consciously choosing to embody our own ideals - not by merely talking about them. If we want to live in an honest, open, loving community free from
crime and hypocrisy - we have to become honest, open, loving, and
true to ourselves at all times. Old habits die hard, yes, and the shadowy side of ourselves will whisper in our ears: "Don't be a fool! You're putting yourself at risk!"

That's how we become kiasi and kiasu - afraid of death and afraid of losing. And those two fears make us less than noble, they rob us of our dignity and integrity and true value as individuals.

So, rather than shrink into my own little corner of paranoia, I have opted to embrace PRONOIA - the feeling that the entire universe loves you totally and exists only to educate and entertain you! When you break through to the pronoiac experience, Tine, you'll discover a kind of freedom you never knew existed. You'll look strangers in the eye and smile with an open heart - instead of keeping your eyes on the sidewalk in case they mug you! This way, you turn strangers into potential friends within a heartbeat. That's what MAGICK is all about!

Believe me, this is our real mission on earth: to transform hell back to heaven with the quality of our perceptions and thoughts. This we won't achieve by harboring useless fears and projecting more crime and horror onto the screen of physical reality.

Now... would you like my name, address, phone number, bank account, and how much money I have in there? No problem. Just ask! :-)

pelf said...

Dang, Tine, you freaked me out lar. But luckily I don't post too many photos of my and my house and my living room.

But I do have pictures of the campus.

kyels said...

Hence keeping oneself under the anonymous veil (as in posting of photos, etc) in our own blogs has its own pros and cons.

The people in this world are turning crazy these days; anything can happen.


rinnah said...

This is a scary post, tine. Now I'm thinking hard about whether or not I've revealed myself too much in the blogging world!