Online Privacy

I’ve heard a lot about how we (everybody, but minors especially) should be worried about our privacy online – don’t give out our names, our ages, our addresses, our phone numbers, what cities we live in, anything.

Some of it, well, sounds rather absurd. Several schools I’ve went to print a directory with names, numbers, and addresses of all the students. If you look in a phone book, it has most of that information. If you look online at the websites of the various scholarships I’ve won, contests I’ve taken part in, etc, you can probably find out a considerably amount about me. So what is so bad about saying anything about myself online? Supposedly creepy people can read your blog / forum / MySpace (I don’t have one, by the way) / whatever and hunt you down for devious purposes. I suppose that is a faint possibility, but what makes it more likely that they’ll target you rather than some other random person they seen on the street? (From what I’ve read, most of the danger seems to be to people who initiate inappropriate conversations with these creepy people, presumably unaware that they are creepy (c.f. the show To Catch a Predator).)

So honestly, I don’t really care what I tell you about me online, because you can find out pretty much all of it elsewhere anyway, and even the stuff that you can’t find out elsewhere isn’t that big a secret. My name is Joseph Simmons. I go to the University of Dallas, which strangely is located in Irving. Before I started going there, I went to Cistercian Preparatory School, which is also in Irving. Before that I went to Irving High School, before that de Zavala Middle School, all in the Irving Independent School District. I did Math Club at Cistercian, took part in a bunch of contests; they included the USAMO earlier this year. I don’t think you can find out my score anywhere, so I won’t say it. Etc. I’m not going to pretend that this blog has any privacy to it when it doesn’t. And because of that, I’m obviously not going to say anything here that I wouldn’t want to say to anybody I know in real life. For all I know the reader of this I know in real life as well.

What I don’t understand is people who do reveal stuff about themselves online that they want to keep secret in their real lives and expect that information to stay hidden…

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