Should I Be More Afraid?

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Almost everything I read this week had something to do with Facebook and how more and more of your information is shared online. Here’s the thing, I know lots of people who have been quite private about their use of Facebook and limit as much as possible on their page. However, I’ve always been quite the opposite and the thought of a perfect stranger finding my photo online doesn’t bother me all that much.

I think that I’ve been careful to a certain degree. I have some privacy set up for my photos and I actually almost never accept invitations to games or apps attached to facebook. I’ve never seen the point in that. What I do agree with however, is that facebook seems to always be updating the way privacy is set up on the site that it’s a little hard to keep up.

So…should I be more afraid?

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Sure, I’ve googled myself to see what turns up and so far, I’m ok with what I see in the results. Most of it relates to my work and professional life, my Twitter account is used soley for professional development, and any profile photos that show up from my various accounts (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn etc.) I am fine with because obviously, I chose those photos as precisely that, “profile photos”. I believe a profile photo’s main purpose is to be seen.

Don’t get me wrong, looking back there are definitely some profile photos I looked at and thought “what was I thinking????” I’ve even had someone open a Multipy account pretending to be me. That person had my photo, added people who knew me and even replied to my friend’s messages with accurate private information such as the name of my boyfriend at the time. When I found the account I promptly reported it with evidence that I was the real Pana Asavavatana, and mass messaged my friends telling them it wasn’t me. Many wrote back surprised because when they tried to contact me through Mulitply, and this person had done a good job writing back as though s/he was me. Pretty scary at the time, but the profile got taken down quite promptly and I haven’t had the same problem since. I’m still online…doing my thing and I do often wonder if I’m too relaxed about it all?

So is this where schools get it from?

After reading a few articles, I began to feel like there was a trend, the same trend that so many schools use on kids: scare tactics. Many are written subtly but they still make you ask yourself key questions about your online life. I suppose reflection is a good thing, but there are more articles out there that come off with a tone of sending a warning or a message of caution toward have an online profile and what you do with it.

This made me wonder, if the media is scaring us as adults so that we are more aware of our online presence, wouldn’t it then be natural for us to turn around and use the same techniques on our students? Perhaps this why many schools talk about the threats in the online world in an attempt to “protect” their students first and foremost, after all it’s what we’re used to.

Just be responsible!

We’re all here at COETAIL because we believe that the internet, comptuers and technology are going to be a big part of the future that our students will one day live in. I also know that through this second course we have a goal of teaching our students digitial citizenship and responsibility. So, in the end, I’m still not that worried about my online presence. I think I’ve made responsible choices and there’s nothing I can see online that I can’t live with. On top of all that, I LIKE having a digital footprint. I’ve been connected to many people who continue to build my professional network.

As for all of those ways that we share information to strangers without even knowing it. Well, my perspective is, if you’ve chosen to live with the internet, you might as well embrace the ways in which it works. Yep, your info will probably be used to target ads at you at some point and you won’t know how they knew. In fact, I had my phone on airplane mode over my recent spring break, but I openned up google maps and that little blue dot still knew my exact location. So, really, my opinion is, accept it, make choices you’re comfortable with and just get on with life…because being online is a part of life now too!

8 thoughts on “Should I Be More Afraid?”

  1. I have to agree with you, Pana, our lives don’t have the same kind of privacy that once was common. We should get used to the way that things work, be informed instead of hiding our faces, do our best to make good choices, and be responsible for our footprints. It IS difficult to keep up with the changes in policies, especially since they seem to be written in a different language, is that on purpose, do you think? And, as I write this comment, I find myself completely mesmerized by the revolvemap on the right that keeps showing my location… Vientiane, Lao PDR is not a place that shows up often, but there’s my spot showing up on the globe. It makes me feel a bit too visible, but I should probably get used to it.

    • The truth is, if you have a cellphone, you’re already being tracked whether you’re on facebook or not. In fact you’re being tracked in more ways than you can imagine (ever done some online shopping?)! I guess I can understand where you are coming from, as it didn’t used to be like this! Times are changing and changing fast, adapting that quickly isn’t always easy to do! I feel it too! 🙂

  2. You have a much more open-minded attitude towards Facebook than I have and I admire your willingness to embrace social media. Unfortunately I have a very different attitude towards social media-particularly Facebook-which I see as a vast entity that continues to claim ownership to our social lives. However, I think I am part of a small online percentage that feels this way.

    The main reason I wanted to comment on your post is because I really liked your point about school’s instilling a fear of the internet in children. I absolutely agree that this is probably symptomatic of a wider fear of what might lurk in the wastelands of the web! I think that as educators we have a duty to encourage our children to become more willing to participate in the digital community while giving them a rational understanding of what the negative sides of connectivity actually are.

    PS Your post was an enjoyable read

    • Hey Neil, thanks for your comment, I’m glad you enjoyed my post 🙂 Yes, all intentions are good I’m sure but excessive internet blocking or prohibiting use of technology really isn’t the way to go anymore. A lack of knowledge of smart online behavior could lead to more negative events occuring to our students when they are experimenting independently.

  3. Pana, this is such a great way to look at technology. We are trained to look for all the bad things, protect ourselves from predators. There are very few articles which mention the good happening with communication via social media. I too am fairly comfortable with people seeing what I have online. There are things from University I hope never get discovered, but we live and we learn. Being online is a part of life now and we all need to shift our thinking to represent it.

  4. Great post. Facebook has been such a roller coaster for me. I’ve never worried about what I upload but sometimes catch myself wondering why I upload it.

    In a previous career it was important that I was seen at the top of search results for my name. Since leaving I had been relieved that I’m about 10 links deep. As a tech integrator though, I should work again at building my online professional presence. I will be on the job hunt someday and being seen adds credibility to my position.

    • Yep, the job market is the reason why I started my professional blog. Unlike many people though, when you Google my name, majority, if not all, of the links are connected to me. Don’t think anyone else out there has the same name as I do! So, it hasn’t been hard to make online presence more searchable, however, on the other end of the spectrum, I feel I have to be more careful because anything that goes online about me is very easy to find!

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