Is Technology Simply a Grand Illusion?
If you’re anything like me, I find my smartphone very convenient because I can find cell phone applications to do many of my daily tasks. From my work to personal lists of banking, booking travel plans, errand checklists, research, even scheduling of employees and keeping clients updated.
Apps have simplified our lives in many ways; however, if you are really like me, then there are times when you fantasize about throwing your phone out on the I-5 freeway in downtown Los Angeles, or your pool. People know they can reach you 24/7, even if everyone knows you’re on vacation.
We live during a time when we have apps that quickly guide us around traffic jams, wake us up, put us to sleep, bring us food, and help us find love. There are apps to open and lock doors, turn on and off appliances, and we can communicate with each other when we’re halfway around the world.
All these apps are designed to save us time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, saving time is great, particularly if you own a business, going to school full time, or raising a brood of kids under 6. But in the effort to save time, are we trading our time for security? In that same vein, aren’t we also trading away our privacy? There’s always a yang to the yin.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
As our population ages, it’s the Boomers who remember the time when you could leave your house and car unlocked all night. Kids played outside, unsupervised (gasp!) until the streetlights blinked on. Those of a certain age commonly refer to this as the good old days.
Of course, it wasn’t as idyllic or as crime-free as we’d like to think. Criminal activity was something the average person thought of as a big-city problem. People knew their neighbors. They watched out for each other, socialized, and became friends. Communities were tightknit and considered safe.
With the arrival of the first PC’s and then mobile phones, a brave new world was birthed. Opening this technological Pandora’s box came with a price attached. The cost was personal freedom, anonymity and the reasonable right to privacy.
So, not to be cynical (I’d rather you label me a realist) with each new leap in technology, the seedy underbelly of society will always be waiting to embrace and exploit it. Nobody wants their privacy violated, unless they become a victim of a crime.
The very applications we create to conceal our phone number or to create a fake cell number to do nefarious things like cyber bullying or stalking, now makes for a difficult and successful investigation.
On that same note, we often use these types of applications to conduct our investigations, particularly in covert situations.
Growing Up with Technology
Because we’re constantly “connected,” we hear information and updates from all over the world. We’re barraged daily with stories of crime sprees, shootings, and natural disasters. Because we hear about these happenings from the news channels while sipping our morning coffee, our perceptions have shifted to where this has become our norm.
We hear about burglaries at professional athlete’s homes, or robberies at the local jewelers. Does this mean criminals are becoming more intelligent? Hardly. As we used to say in police work, “We don’t catch the smart ones.”
We’re at a time when criminals are enjoying the benefits of being digital natives. They’ve never known the world without a smartphone. They understand how to use technology, and very quickly how to misuse it.
The only tools required to be a cyber gangster is a computer (or smartphone), a La-Z-Boy and DoorDash.com.
Keep Your Business to Yourself
We’ve become a world full of gleeful and willful sharers. Every aspect of our lives is an open book of selfies, videos and postings, meant to both entertain and inform our friends and families.
But who else is minding our business? Is it possible we’re revealing too much of ourselves in the moment? The world now knows which restaurant we’re chowing down at, how long we’ll be weekending, who we’re hangin’ with, and the car we just bought with the license plate on display for anyone to identify.
I Want to Be Your Friend
It’s great to have hundreds of Facebook or Instagram friends and followers. Everyone wants friends as it gives us a false sense of love and importance.
As actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, stated, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice!” My motto is be nice to everyone who steps into your life, no matter how fleeting or longstanding, BUT that doesn’t mean you have to accept everyone’s “friend request.”
Think about this for a moment. How many of these online friends are really friends? Most likely, they’re acquaintances or we’re related through business in some way. It’s strange to me how we call total strangers our “friends” within our digital life.
You Must Have Read My Mind
Whether you know it or not, you’re constantly being tracked and photographed. Every swipe right and Hey, Alexa is monitored and recorded for the databanks of advertisers and retailers who would love to understand and exploit your buying habits.
The minute you Google the latest “miracle anti-wrinkle cream,” like magic, ads begin to pop up on your screen for that type of item. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a pseudo mind reader, friends, and advertisers are not the only ones paying attention to you.
I Know Where I’m Going, Do You?
Never at any time in history has a population been more monitored. Most teens and Millennials don’t seem bothered by this invasion of privacy, because they love to instantly share vacay selfies, photos of pretty food and trending nightclubs, complete with geotagged locations.
So what’s wrong with that, you ask? Our friends and followers read the posts and know exactly where we are, or where we plan to be. Our movements are being tracked, yet we’re totally oblivious to any self-harm we’re causing.
The Lights Are On, But You’re Not Home
Celebrities, just like us regular Joes, love to share, anything and everything imaginable. That’s nice of them. We love our celebrities. It’s not right that bad people want to break in and steal their Golden Globe or the script to the GOT season finale or their personal photos and videos.
I understand why my celebrity clients feel a need to connect with their fans, and that social posting is integral to promotion. What I advise is if they want to post where they’re at, just post it a day later.
I urge them not to post their favorite sushi joint they visit three times a week, otherwise, their “biggest fan” has every opportunity to lie in wait and follow them home.
There’s a long list of celebrities and professional athletes who’ve had their homes broken into while they posted about attending an event, award show, or playoff game. Here’s the short list: Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Alanis Morissette, Nick Young, Yasiel Puig, Dereck Fisher and Nicki Minaj.
Loose Lips, Sink Ships
The subtitle of this section comes from a World War II propaganda slogan. And I quote, Loose lips, sink ships. Meaning, unguarded talk (or social posting) gives sensitive and valuable information to the enemy.
We all know that information is king. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your virtual castle is under siege.
Let’s Wrap This Up
I know this has been a bit tongue in cheek, but as Mary Poppins sings, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.
I’m not here to burst your social media bubble. Post away. And apps like NextDoor.com are gaining in popularity. Designed to bring back the security and comradery of days past, it purports to get neighbors to know and watch out for one another. Sounds nice, huh? Before you agree, read on.
This Jun 19, 2019 Komando.com article by Kevin Downey, How to Protect Your Privacy on Neighborhood Sites Like NextDoor is definitely worth a read.
Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.
When you’re using Nextdoor, it’s hard not to notice that it’s not as well monitored as sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Instead of online bullies being quickly silenced, on Nextdoor, they can rattle on and on, and on, with seemingly little or no monitoring.
In fact, it’s not unheard of for Nextdoor bullies to take their harassment offline, too. That’s scary when you realize that many members post their exact street address on the site.
I’m not trying to dissuade you from using sites like these. But know this, every day homes are being broken into, hotel rooms burglarized, and financial information compromised.
What we can control is our impulsive need to instantly tell everyone where we are and what we’re doing, tagging who we’re with, and announcing how long we’ll be on vacation.
Have fun with the Internet. Go ahead and post pictures of yourself in front of a car, your favorite café and how every Friday you go there with your family for their sweet potato fries. I’m simply suggesting you don’t post that you’re snorkeling in the Virgin Islands while you’re snorkeling in the Virgin Islands.
Odds are, out of all the people watching you on social media, at least one is a criminal.