On Privacy + Annoying Little Dogs

A friend posted this status update a few weeks ago: Is it weird to be on someone's Facebook page when they walk up??

The answers she received were overwhelmingly "yes," but I expect that soon, the majority of responses to that question will soon be "no" or "meh. who cares." This is the age that we're in, we inhabit both real and virtual worlds, all of us celebrities with our own fans, followers, and headshots. Why shouldn't we expect people to read about us online, to see what we're up to and who we've posed with in pictures? In fact, shouldn't we be flattered that they're thinking of us at all?

Thinking of someone is one thing. Looking for all their info is stalking them from afar.

Not that I don't do it, too, but it does concern me. I don't worry about my own privacy--I'm grown--but I do worry about my tween who is on XBox Kinect with people he's never met, people who live in different countries all over the world. My kid knows enough not to play video games with adults (and adult XBoxers don't like playing with kids anyway) but he doesn't understand yet how this anonymous interaction could come back to bite him in the butt.

For example, I've witnessed him engage in heated competitions, including smack-talk, with other game players. I've overheard he and his friends sit in front of the tv screen and lie to the other players about their names and ages. What happens when an insult is taken personally and someone hacks into your XBox account (is this possible?) or finds out who you are and starts to harass you? Stalking from afar (what we do when we google others) is one thin line from harassing from afar.

Not that old school bullying can't happen. (I received a typed letter in the mail the other day. No return address. It read: "Dog Owner, Put a lid on that little dog of yours. Please. And welcome to the hood.")

The difference is that I probably know the idiot who sent that letter. The letter writer is someone who lives in my neighborhood.

But who are the cranks and weirdos who are watching us unseen? This is one of the real dangers, I think, of so much of our information being accessible to the public at large.

Not that Facebook cares about our privacy.

So much of who we are today is how we present ourselves through different media. You can ask any real celebrity what the price is for that kind of access.