Monday, May 23, 2005

Being careful

I follow some conventions when I write about the people I know. If someone's known to this community, for instance, if they have a blog or an online identity I'll refer to them by the name they reveal there.

If I'm writing about someone not known to the community in that way I never ever use their full name. Thus, I'll mention my best mate Heino or one or both of his daughters but I'll never give anywhere near enough information to trace them. In the case of the daughters I don't even mention their names. They have names assuredly but the names aren't relevant to the story I'm relating.

I learned internet safety the hard way back in 1996. No one was hurt but I did end up having to change my phone number and pay for an unlisted number. And all because I was unwise enough, once, to reveal the name of my employer in a public chat. Put that together with my name and we have a potential disaster if someone should decide to stalk me. Which was what happened. Someone on a different continent decided that I was her dreamboat (stop laughing!!! :-) ). Eventually it got to the point that she was calling my number almost continuously, both at home and at work. I could refuse to answer the phone at home but that's not really an option at work.

This went on for a week or so and then she announced that she had booked a ticket to Melbourne! Panic mode! It was the work of a moment to go backwards from my name and phone number to my address. Whether she really had booked a ticket or not was something I never found out, fortunately. Some very fast talking and she cancelled (or said she had).

Of course I immediately changed my number and went unlisted. I'm unlisted to this day. I also changed my online nickname. I used to be mando but I changed to UltraMaroon. Why that choice? Surely it's obvious. It's the name Bugs Bunny uses to describe someone so incredibly stupid they've all but forfeited the right to live!

If you think I left some details out you'd be right. I don't mind admitting to some level of stupidity but do I have to admit the true extent?

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