It’s Always Something

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Credit: Pixabay

Last week I posted about keeping your online identity separate from your real life and wondered whether it was possible.  I know that being online comes with a risk, and that the only way to protect your data is to not be online at all.  Actually, I’m not sure that’s even true, given how many companies sell our data.  I mean, my mortgage bank could sell my data, my insurance company, my credit card company – you name it, they’ve probably sold it.  And everything is hackable – everything.  So the best we can do is try to be risk-aware, and be as safe as possible.

But it’s always something.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from Reddit asking me to verify my email address.  Problem – I didn’t sign up for a Reddit account.  Immediately suspicious of a phishing attempt, I looked at the email sender’s address – an https link to reddit.com.  I looked at the verify link – also an https link to reddit.com.  And the third link (again, an https link to reddit.com) – one to click on to say that it wasn’t me who had set up this account.  Which means this happens often enough that companies like Reddit know to include that last option.

Now, I have no idea why someone would need to use my email to open a Reddit account.  I mean, email addresses are free and easy to get from a variety of sources.  So why mine?  I have had this happen before, with another email.  Someone shopping at Lulelemon (someplace I would never shop) used one of my email addresses and I got not only spam emails (which I’m assuming was the point of not using their own email address), I also got their purchase receipts.  With name, address, phone number, etc.  Now, those could have been someone else’s too, I suppose, but it seems dumb to avoid spam by using someone else’s email address and then hand that person your (possible) personal information.

So, I managed to let Reddit know that it was not me who had signed up for the account and they have removed my email.  However, since using other people’s email addresses is apparently a thing, for my own peace of mind, I’m going to take some preemptive action.  I’ve been putting off signing up for social media accounts because – well, honestly, because I don’t like social media.  I know I’m going to have to use it eventually, though, and this has just precipitated my signing up.

At the very least, signing up will ensure that no one else can try to use my email for those sites, even if I never use them myself.  Which, for many of them, I likely won’t.  It still won’t keep people from trying to use my email, but hopefully it will make it just a little more difficult to succeed.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  How did you resolve the issue? 

Separate Lives?

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Credit: Pixabay

Privacy has become a big issue in today’s world.  Big business owners like Mark Zuckerberg want to convince you that privacy is dead, while at the same time retaining a stranglehold on their own.  Why? Because they can make billions off your lack of privacy.  That’s all.  Simple greed.

I grew up before the internet existed.  (Yes, it is possible to survive childhood without the internet, I promise.)  Cell phones were not ubiquitous – mostly because when I was a kid, they were hella expensive and the size of a dictionary. 😛

When the internet became a thing, we didn’t think about the consequences.  (Same thing as nuclear bombs and plastics and asbestos and cell phones and, and well, pretty much everything we invent.)  It’s new, so it must be good, right?

I’ve always been a private person, even as a kid.  Probably due in large part to my lack of social skills, but also because I’m an introvert, and being around a lot of people is mentally and emotionally exhausting for me.  I don’t like, nor do I want, everyone knowing my business.

So, why am I on the internet, you ask?  Good question.  I suppose because I get something out of blogging that I can’t find anywhere else, and also because the benefits to me outweigh the risks.

I think of myself as a normal person, but my sister constantly teases me about my tinfoil hat.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I don’t think it’s wrong to try and limit the potential risks of being online.

I pay bills online, I blog, I am hopefully at some point soon going to open an online Etsy shop.  But I do try to keep my real life and my online life as separate as I can.  Is that weird?  Do other people not do this?

I have a cell phone, but I really only use it for texting and (gasp!) phone calls.  I do have an email account on it, but that’s pretty much it.  I have a few apps (less than 5) that I have installed, most of the rest of the stuff on the phone are things that came with the phone that I can’t delete.

I don’t really do social media.  I used to have a Facebook, but I do not like their lack of ethics, so I deleted it years ago.  I don’t have an Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or anything else.  I don’t like someone else (whether it’s a person or an algorithm) deciding for me what I should see and when.

Maybe because I grew up without the internet, being without those things doesn’t bother me.  On the other hand, my children, who have definitely grown up with the internet, don’t really do social media either.  They text their friends, and they play online games.  But neither one of them have a Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat or whatever other new shiny has popped up lately.

As more and more information comes out about how companies are using data in unethical ways, I find myself trying even harder to maintain the separation between my real life and my online life.  Which, admittedly, is becoming more and more difficult.  Not only because so many companies are trading data as a commodity, but also because the people who use the internet (you know, us regular people), value authenticity.  (That’s what the prevailing wisdom says, anyway.)  Is it possible to be authentic and still keep your real life separate from your online life?