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What this diary does: Provides actionable steps that you can take to keep your online persona and real world identity as separate as possible, and why you would want to take these actions.

What this diary does not do: Get into the who, what, when, where, why and how of recent developments related to data mining of your personal information.

Several disturbing diaries over the past week have discussed the emerging security state in the U.S., and how your personal data is mined and used or abused.  Some of us olde timey propeller heads (I like that term so much better than "computer geek") have watched these worrisome developments slowly unfold for many years, and acted accordingly to establish firewalls between our online and real world personae.  I realize that for techies who rely on the internet for their livelihood, this isn't possible.  To others, the prospect of a true 1984-ish society isn't terribly concerning.  This diary isn't directed to those in either of the latter two categories.  

I want to offer some suggestions for building a bit of a personal firewall around yourself, even if your current online data footprint is very broad and deep.  By way of credentialing myself, I've been online longer than the interwebs have been existence.  In my geezerly geekiness, back in the days of cranky 300 baud dialup modems and rudimentary database table development, I grasped that both the real time data that you send out over the internet, combined with the life data that's collected daily on each of us, could be exceptionally powerful and used for both good and evil.  

Mostly, it was clear to me early on that if this information could be used for evil, it would be.  So I took great pains over many years to develop an (a) online persona completely separate from the (b) marketing and government databases that provide a window into my real world identity.  From both privacy and personal security perspectives, it's useful to have as many degrees of separation as possible between (a) and (b), because the perceived value in NSA-level data mining is the point where (a)+(b) intersect.

What follows below the jump are online identity management strategies that I've learned over the years. I hope you find them useful, and easy enough to evaluate and incorporate, as appropriate for your own level of risk mitigation and personal exposure.

Who are you?

Have you ever googled your name?  If you have a fairly common name such as John Smith, your personal identity can quickly get lost in the search engine noise.  But if you add in a town, or city, and then put quotes around your name ("John Q. Smith"), the number of results returned are dramatically decreased, and the probability of finding yourself are increased.  Now, add in your occupation ("John Q. Smith", "Anywhere, Va.", engineer) and I can almost guarantee you'll find yourself on the first page of results in teh Google.

How does Google zero in on you?  To a degree, public databases that geo-target your name with a specific location or zip code.  More and more, however, your identity is defined by your social networking profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, and especially Google properties) and postings in online forums such as DKos.  Many people sign up for these social networking services with their real world identity.  Plus, even if you use a nom de guerre, these services generally want to verify your meatspace status with an email address (at a minimum) or a phone number for texting response to authenticate your registration.

So, unless you were a bit of a futurist 20 years ago, you probably signed up for one or more social media sites or other online services using your real world identity.  Big Brother knows who you are, where you live, how much money you make (or don't), your political persuasion, the last book you bought, the breed of dog you own, and can plug you into a family tree faster than a Mormon elder in Salt Lake City.  If you connect to the internet in any way, most likely there's very little data about you that hasn't been collected, analyzed, assimilated, and sliced and diced in a variety ways for multiple purposes.

For many, many people, the damage has already been done.  Some of the dings to your personal privacy can be reversed (particularly if you're somewhat mobile, and have moved or are moving soon).  To do so, you have to put a stake in the ground today, right now, and separate your online persona from your real world identity to the extent possible.  As described in the intro to this diary, it's the nexus of the two that's most problematic.

Your goal should be making the "Who are you?" question much more difficult for a computer algorithm to answer with any precision.  It doesn't matter whether it's an ex-spouse's attorney, Madison Avenue mad man, government agency, or potential employer who is trying to find out.

I would caution you that making the transition takes time.  Deprecating your online persona requires perseverance, patience, and persistence.  It's easier that you (or your kids, as they're growing up) never have to deal with it at all.  Teach your kids the power of online anonymity from the git-go, and try to monitor their progress.  The benefits of doing so are far beyond the scope of this brief DIY how-to for those of us already in the Matrix.

Reducing Your Online Profile

On March 1, 2012, Google instituted a new privacy policy across all of its online real estate.  This includes Google, You Tube, Gmail, Picassa, and a host of other Google properties.  The majority of people who were even aware of this policy change gave a collective "meh", rather than abandon teh Google.  Essentially, the policy change allows Google to aggregate your data, searches, and surfing habits across all of their properties, in order for them to "enhance your online experience".  What this means (in real world terms) is targeting ads and suggesting website content based on your purchases, apparent lifestyle, and personal interests.  If it were only so simple...

There is only one real way to make your current Google exposure go away - deprecate it.  In other words, eliminate (or minimize) or change your personal profile that you use on Google, Inc. properties.

I'll give you my own example:  Since the new Google policy went into effect, I log in only to get my gmail, then log right back out.   I no longer stay logged into Gmail (and by default, Google) 24X7.  I'm transitioning to an offshore email provider in Norway, which has very strong privacy protections.  I never had a very active Youtube account, so that's not an issue, nor do I care to belong to google + or be involved in google circles.

[ Sidebar: An interesting thing happened the other day when I logged into Gmail - Google asked me for my phone number, and the page implied that I'd have a much more difficult time with authenticating into Google properties soon if I didn't provide my phone number.

Bullshirt.

Bullfarkingshirt.]

I hate to even get into the privacy issues with Facebook.  Suffice it to say I disabled my Facebook account awhile back, and am no longer a patron of Zuckerberg's personal profiling monster.  That being said, you need to understand that even the profile that I disabled was for my online persona, not my real world identity.  I've never had my real world identity on Facebook, and never will in any social networking environment.  

If I am offering advice to someone who wants to "go to ground" and get off the Matrix grid, so to speak, here are five strategies to begin with:

  • Give up Facebook by deactivating your account, or at a minimum, deactivate and then re-register under an alternate name.  Do the same with other social networking websites that you use.
  • Unless you have an overwhelming career need to be on LinkedIn and similar professional networking sites, deactivate or close your account.
  • Stop using Google properties to the extent that you can, and deactivate / abandon-in-place any real world identifiable profiles.  There are search engine alternatives to Google that are every bit as good (duckduckgo.com comes to mind), but respect your privacy.
  • Start using an ad block plugin for your browser, if you don't already.
  • Register an email address in something other than your real name (ie. sharpdressedman@yahoo.com), and start using it for most correspondence purposes.

Rebuilding Your Persona in the Matrix

There are two steps to this process: 1) STOP. POSTING. YOUR. PERSONAL. SHIT. TO. THE. WORLD. and 2) Start to establish your new online persona.

I know how enticing it is, and even how personally empowering it is, to discuss the most intimate details of your life online, whether on DKos or on Facebook.  There's no need for me to get into details or examples.  If you're guilty of posting pootie diaries on DKos, or late night drunken postings on your Facebook feed about lost loves, then this is for you:

Stop it.  Just fucking stop it.

That's the first step toward reclaiming the personal security of your identity.  Stop discussing your personal life in an open, public forum.  I'm sorry to get a bit profane in my admonition, but it drives me insane to see people expose themselves and the problems in their lives in a public space, especially when there is no, or minimal, separation between an online persona and real world identity.

You need to develop the discipline to keep your personal life out of the public domain.  It's not easy.  In virtual communities, that's perhaps the most difficult thing to do because the opportunities are endless, but at the same time, these personal type of disclosures are a key element for anyone monitoring your online activities to develop a profile of you and commission a "risk / threat assessment" about you.

That's the first step toward rebuilding your online persona - recognize and acknowledge that anything you post online under a traceable identity will eventually lead to your doorstep, in ways that you can't envision.  The second step involves rebranding yourself in an online persona as far removed from your real world identity as possible.  This isn't as hard as it seems.  The five steps that I outlined above will get you started.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, it's the nexus of your online activities and real world identity that can set off red flags in surveillance and communication monitoring programs, especially for activists.

In Closing - and A Caveat

There is no way to totally uncouple your online persona and real world identity.  Even after you develop multiple layers of pseudonymity,  it's still possible for an NSA-level snooper to connect your dots.  Yes, there are ways for you to make such an endeavor more difficult, but most of those are beyond the scope of easy.  What I've tried to present in this diary will be satisfactory for most people in avoiding spam, online marketers, real world stalkers, and behemoths like Google "tailoring your online experience".

Lastly, the surveillance state is only going to continue to expand as time goes on.  In a post-9/11 world, there is no longer the presumption of innocence until proven guilty - you are presumed guilty, period.  Value your privacy, because it's directly linked to your personal security.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In writing this... (22+ / 0-)

    I'm sure that I missed some obvious, easy tactics or online resources that can improve the distance between online personae and real world identities.  Please chime in with other suggestions that are easily implemented.

    We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

    by Richard Cranium on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 07:28:24 AM PDT

    •  Some ideas: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oortdust, sockpuppet

      1. Proxies
      2. TOR
      3. Start Startpage-ing rather than Google-ing.

      Tell Congress: DON'T BREAK THE INTERNET! Learn about the OPEN Act.

      by Brown Thrasher on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:41:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Keep your physical address out of public records. (4+ / 0-)

      The one thing that's more dangerous than baddies having your personal info via cyberspace, is for them to know where you keep your soft squishy body, particularly when you go on your nightly voyage to dreamland.  

      If you ever end up with a stalker, or for that matter if your local burglars and home invasion robbers like to phone ahead before "going to work," you'll discover how fast life can become hell if your name is linked to your physical address.

      Post Office boxes don't help because they require physical address disclosure which is then a public record open for anyone to view.

      What you need is a "private mailbox," and then an out of date or fictitious physical address for their records.  Look up "private mailboxes" or "mail receiving services" in your local yellow pages.  They will not give out your address except under legal process, and if the address you provided is out of date, even that won't help the Spanish Inquisition find you.

      Once you have a private mailbox, use that as your legal address for all purposes including your driver's license and other ID.  Your address will look like this:

      John Doe
      1234 Main Street #56
      Anytown, State, 98765

      Note the use of the "#" in that address.  You can't say "apartment" or "suite," but you can use the "#," which people will interpret as an apartment number.  (For which reason it's nice to get a lower number.)

      For voter registration, check with your local Democratic Party office.  

      For your landline, delete your physical address from your telco white pages listing.  Unlike having an unlisted number, this costs nothing.  All it should say is your name and telephone number.   From the phone number, a stalker or other baddie can figure out which town you are in, but that's all.  

      For your cellphone, beware the location tracking "services", since those can be queried remotely, giving your stalker a constant update on you, everywhere you go.  Turn off GPS and "location services" and make damn sure they are really turned off.  

      For your email, using your telco or other broadband provider, if they are a regulated local exchange carrier, is safer than using Google's vast surveillance machine.

      None of the above will keep away the Spanish Inquisition, but will keep away criminals intent on victimizing you, ex sweeties who turned bitter, and other nasties and morons who might like to make your life miserable.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:44:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Private Mailboxes RED FLAG! (0+ / 0-)

        Your advice to get a PMB as part of a "protecting you privacy" plan is a good suggestion.

        However:   It appears that the USPS was increasingly losing p.o. box-rental revenue to PMB's.  So they instituted a draconian form that PMB companies have to keep on each of their PMB box-renter/subscribers.  

        http://faq.usps.com/...[c_usps0729]

        This form requires that a PMBC get more information about its customers than the USPS ever requires to rent a P.O. box from the P.O.   Note at the above link that two forms of identification are required to rent a PMB, and one of has to be, of course, a driver's license or government-issued picture ID.   The second one is equally draconian.  A passport ID or similar??!!  

        Worse, the PMBC is required to keep this information on file, available for inspection by the USPS, at all times.   What kind of security do you think most of these mom-and-pop postal centers and UPS Stores have to protect this very valuable identity-theft-rich information about their customers?   It's a form.  Filled out and signed by each customer, and in some cases, actually notarized.

        Also, if the private postal center goes out of business, they are required to keep this information on this form for at least two years after closing the business, or worse, selling it to induhviduals unknown to each customer.    What control do we have over the privacy of our information in this scenario?  None.

        And it appears that the USPS knows how draconian and unreliable and inequitable this invasive treatment of PMB customers is, as opposed to the process of renting a regular USPS P.O. Box.   This is allegedly why they instituted this scurrilous regulation on private mailbox centers, knowing that people who use these services are not going to want to give over this kind of data about themselves.  

        The USPS further declares on the form that if one refuses to submit, then the PMB service store will be under scrutiny.   Also, that the USPS will not deliver any of the USPS mail to the PMB, absent this signed form.    It doesn't make sense, since the USPS doesn't require this kind of draconian info to deliver mail to a P.O. Box.  So their argument that they are helping with "security" of the mail and preventing "criminal activity" with PMB's is specious on its face.

        What can be done about this egregious extension of USPS intrusion into our private lives through PMB interference and snooping?   Not much.  

        I suggest trying this:  only give your driver's license as an ID.  (But your license no. is recorded, so there's possibility for ID theft, right there.)   Make sure your driver's license only has a USPS P.O. Box on it for your address.  (Ours does, although the DMV has our actual physical address on file.)  

        Only use the PMB as a physical delivery address.  Have all mail sent to the P.O. Box.   That way the USPS can't say that they have any jurisdiction over your use of the PMB, since you are not using their service to deliver mail to the PMB.   Only give the PMB address as your physical address, where ever an address is required, but be aware, more local .gov's are getting hip to which addresses are PMB's.

        It's impossible to become invisible in today's world, unless you go completely non-digital, move, and don't ever pay any way but by cash.   Even then, it's still nearly impossible to erase yourself.  (We had the damn "American Community Survey" (under the Census Dept.) come after us when they had a blank at our address on our street.  They had to know who lives here.   When we answered with the P.O. Box, they had the USPS threaten us with no-service if we didn't give our actual current address.  Damn them.)

        So...just be aware of the downsides now of using PMB's.   Try never to give valuable ID info to these little strip-mall shops, as part of the USPS intrusive reach.   Your data is not safe.

        •  more difficult but not impossible. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sockpuppet

          It has become more difficult, but it's not impossible.

          For example one can create a "roommate" or two at a PMB and very often these will fly under the radar.

          You can become someone else's "roommate" at a PMB the same way.

          If you use a Post Office box, your physical address will be in a record that is available for ANYONE to view on request: and stalkers WILL do it.  

          I've got slightly special circumstances, having helped send a violent felon (a stalker, how'd you guess?:-) to prison years ago and gotten a court order to confidentialize my address information.  Helping catch baddies is always a good thing and it turns out to have "fringe benefits."  

          Never lie to the police.  My PMB is on my driver's license.  When I've gotten stopped by the police:

          Officer: "Is this where you live?"
          Me: "No sir, I helped send (name of perp) to prison for (charge convicted of) and got my address confidentialized under court order.  I hope you'll keep this out of any public record for my own safety, but I live at (physical address)."
          Officer:  "You're OK." (or words to that effect).

          For me (YMMV), it's not government that I'm worried about, it's criminals and also the rising tide of private information collectors out there.  

          If someone is a political dissident and living in a place where local government is sufficiently corrupt that extralegal/illegal retaliation is likely, there's nothing short of US Marshals that can protect them from that, so they should probably move to a safe jurisdiction.  

          Unfortunately there is not a simple "algorithm" for protecting physical address privacy, and many of the details of methods are best left unpublished but can be figured out by someone who wants to give it some thought.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 05:47:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The USPS is a private corporation now (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            It's not "government", so I wanna know how in hell they get away with making these edicts and proclamations about how and where else we can receive our mail, than what they can track us to.

            I'm not concerned so much about the .gov having my personal info, either.   It's the amount of info required to be kept onhand by the PMBS mom and pop strip-mall store.    

            I understand about the stalking.  Been there, too.  Previous hazardous law-enforcement duty, myself.

            •  USPS is a regulated monopoly.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sockpuppet

              ... like the telcos back in the days of Ma Bell.  So certain rules about it can be operationalized as laws or as power to regulate, just as Ma Bell used to have rules about not connecting your own extension phones.

              The PMBS moms & pops are often very much aware of the issues around protecting privacy.  They have a trade association with newsletters, so you could even write an article for that newsletter and help educate PMB store owners.  Since you were in LE, you have that whole background to draw upon.

              Speaking of which, one of the things I found after I got my address confidentialized and started using a PMB, was that I was more likely to get involved and help catch baddies.

              After the stalker case, and my PMB, I helped catch a strong-arm robber (by finding him in a BART (subway) station), and a burglar (by hearing him break into an adjacent office after hours).

              The way I thought of it, they can't find out where I live so it's safe to go looking for the suspect or make the phone call.

              That was majorly empowering.  And I'll bet a lot more people would get involved if they knew they were safe from retaliation.  

              Then a few years ago I got involved in a volunteer effort against extremist groups with violent activities, and started doing OSI and writing FIE reports that got channeled to FBI.  The feedback I got was that the info was highly useful, and one of the cases ended up before a federal grand jury  And the baddies will never find out where I live.  

              The way I figure it, anyone who doesn't have a criminal record (plus or minus victimless misdemeanors, maybe after five years of no further incidents) should be eligible to get their address confidentialized by default.  For example you file a document with the local PD that lists your physical address (in case of emergencies or arrest warrants), and your PMB or Post Office Box (with new regs to prevent USPS releasing the info to the general public), and then your mailbox becomes your legal address including for voting.

              That plus ubiquitous camera-phones, would make neighborhood watch more effective, with no more cowboys and no more dead teenagers.

              Needless to say I'm interested in hearing more about what sort of hazardous duty LE you were involved in, but if you can't tell, I'm not asking.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:10:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's a lot of good info, G2g (0+ / 0-)

                Thanks!  

                Very interesting reading about all the public services you do, under cover, so to speak.   Inspiring!

                My LE has to do with a sheriff's office.  Can't say where or what the duty was.   Maybe we'll chat sometime in 3/D. ;)

  •  Very valuable diary, thanks. (9+ / 0-)

    While about as far from being a propeller head as it gets, I have tried to keep things separated. As a kid, when computers filled basements, and we didn't know they existed, mom always told us "Never write anything down that you wouldn't want published in the paper."
    I've cautioned some of the kids I know about the dangers of FB and their datamining ways. They shrug. Oh well, I tried. They'll learn when they have to hitch up their britches to cover that big chunk of ass that got bitten.
    I can haz honorary propellerhead awardz?

    "Authoritarians are attracted to equality because it justifies treating everyone equally shabbily." ~hannah~

    by emmasnacker on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 08:00:06 AM PDT

    •  Absolutely true (6+ / 0-)
      "Never write anything down that you wouldn't want published in the paper."
      With schools, employers, marketers, and who knows who else monitoring online profiles, it drives me nuts that so many people don't take the time to think about what they're posting under their real world identity, or even take advantage of basic security measures offered by sites such as Facebook.

      We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

      by Richard Cranium on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 08:04:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In conjunction... (6+ / 0-)

    with the ad blocking programs, this nifty little browser extension. You'd be amazed at how many ad agencies are tracking you on various web sites, 9-10 on Dkos alone, this proggy allows you to block them all.

    The internet is a perfect information sink, no need to pull you in and interrogate you, link your IP to your real life identity and many people have laid their lives out in diary form. Might help explain why the net hasn't been more censored or shut down in the US yet, it's a tool, especially workable on political social sites.

    Great post, thanks.

    •  I purposefully avoided an IP address discussion (5+ / 0-)

      For most casual web users, tunneling or masking an IP address is probably more hassle than it's worth.  But that's pretty much the next degree of separation for anyone that wants to take it to that level.

      Thanks for the thanks!

      We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

      by Richard Cranium on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 08:10:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  IMHO... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mint julep, sockpuppet

        Proxies or VPNs are a crap shoot too. They're good for masking your IP from the website you are visiting, but your IP is readily accessible via the logs kept by the proxy server, not to mention that the proxy could be run by the government or a criminal. Tunneling (VPN) is better, but even at that your activity is monitored through log files that can be accessed by court order or whom ever they may want to show them to, I know, I know that many VPNs state that they don't keep logs, but that has proven to be untrue in some cases. Who do you trust? Tor gives layered protection, but everything is exposed to the last node in the chain and that last node could be anyone.

        All in all, you are correct, there is no guaranteed privacy on the tubes and maybe the best action is just to post pootie pictures. ;-).

  •  I deleted all of my diaries after a... (5+ / 0-)

    ...cherry picked quote from ratemyprofessors.com was posted as a comment to my last diary here by a stalker.

    I was shocked to find that pasting the quote into google resulted in a single hit to a webpage with my real world identity.

    Let's just say that I won't be posting any more diaries here for a long, long time.

    "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

    by ehrenfeucht games on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 08:07:33 AM PDT

  •  what advice for political candidates? (5+ / 0-)

    This site's goal is to elect progressive Democrats.

    What advice do you have for candidates for elected office? They have incentives and pressures to make their private lives public (to the extent they engage in activities that the majority of their constituents approve of) -- to have an active Facebook presence, so sign their real name to letters, to get their name 'out there' attached to issues they work on, etc.

    Your advice is strongly worded to keep everything about yourself out of the public domain. How will you (or other dKossians) run for elected office if you do this?

    •  I didn't say keep everything out of public forums (0+ / 0-)

      What I've said is to keep your real world identity separate from your online persona.  Two different things.  And I did acknowledge in the intro to this diary that there are people that this simply won't work for - techies who depend on the web for their living, and as you note, public figures (or those who wish to be public figures, elected or otherwise).

      It is not impossible to maintain both, but it adds a whole 'nother level of complexity to make sure that there's no nexus between the two.

      We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

      by Richard Cranium on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:15:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for telling it like it is, Dick Head, if (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Cranium

    only most people would realize how quickly and completely we have become a total surveillance society.

    (From someone who remembers when the 300 baud modems started replacing the 110 baud and slower ones, heh. Then the blazing fast 1200/2400/4800 baud ones came out, zowee-- and all of that was sure faster than the telegraph that we sometimes used! Nothing beat tapping a Teletype onto the government circuits though...most interesting...now they've turned it around.)

    ...back in the days of cranky 300 baud dialup modems and rudimentary database table development...

    "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

    by Bluefin on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:17:45 AM PDT

  •  And the other side of the coin? (4+ / 0-)

    People on this site are alive because they posted on Daily Kos.  They have roofs over their heads, they have jobs, they have health care, they have quilts that comfort them as they battle illness, they have service animals that can continue to do the work they love without pain -- because they posted to this virtual community that has become as real as any neighborhood, and a lot more helpful than most.  

    How much fear do we have to live in, just to be "safe?"  How much do we have to remove ourselves from the connections we've made, the friends, the shared interests, be they pooties or gardening or electing more and better Democrats?  

    As I recall, Ben Franklin had something to say about that. Isn't this just another way of giving up liberty for safety?

    What you are proposing is Olympian isolation.  We can look, from behind our almost impenetrable mask, but we must never touch or allow ourselves to be touched.  We become mere observers.  Because this tool we call the Internet can be used to do bad things, we must therefor isolate ourselves and reject all the good things it can also do?

    Stalkers existed before the internet.  The NSA existed before the internet, along with data mining -- when my daughter was a baby, we got lots of ads for baby stuff in the mail.  Not any more; she's grown up, although the occasional diaper manufacturer hasn't gotten the message.  And they did it before the internet ever existed and they do it now without ever knowing your Facebook page or your Daily Kos account.

    If people never wrote personal things in letters, think of how little we would know about history, about how people lived, about what people great and ordinary thought.  Think of the letters of Samuel Pepys, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams... the list is endless and the information they have given to us is invaluable.

    No, there has to be some kind of middle ground.  I prefer to err on the side of reaching out to connections, rather than hiding behind an online persona that has no relation to who I really am.

    "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

    by stormicats on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:22:07 AM PDT

    •  Bravo! Well said! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Cranium

      As far as I'm concerned the gains from living my life online far, far outweigh the negatives.

      "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

      by Whimsical on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:17:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ...and that's fine! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sockpuppet, millwood

        If it fits your lifestyle, bravo to you.  I recognize that the internet has opened up many doors for many people, especially for those who don't have close relationships or social outlets (for whatever reason) outside of cyberspace.

        I'm not saying to totally shutdown those online relationships.  You and stormicats both are obviously carrying on those relationships under something other than your real world identity.  Most of us who have been on DKos for awhile know fellow Kossacks in the real world, and we maintain our relationships by our given names.  But I keep the real world aspects of our friendships out of the public square.

        Some choose to be more open, and are not as concerned with the online privacy and surveillance issues.  Different strokes, and all that.  :-)

        We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

        by Richard Cranium on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:09:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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