We all know the basics about avoiding danger on the internet by now. Most of us would not think of posing in front of the address sign in our front yard, posting the photo a public page, and tagging ourselves as located in our hometown. It is rare to find someone who would show a stranger a picture of their new credit card, or believe that new internet acquaintance who “just wanted to know what an identification card from your country looked like.”
But there are still common internet behaviors that can be dangerous, and many of them are something we have all done at one point in time. We do these things without thinking about the possible consequences until it may be too late.
Typing “Amen” or something similar on posts asking us if we believe in Jesus.
This warning is in no way meant to disparage Christians, or to discourage anyone from expressing their love for Jesus online. I am a Christian. I was saved in late September of 2016. I would be more than happy to share my testimony of what Jesus has done for me with anyone who wishes to hear it. But liking and commenting on memes asking me to declare my devotion to Jesus is not the way to do this. The people who create and initially post these are not true followers of Jesus. They are scammers. These posts are nothing more than “like farming” scams.
First, the scammer gathers likes and comments. Once they have hit their goal number, they then edit their original post, embedding malware that infects your computer and gives them access to your information. They may also sell your name and any other information on your page to other scammers.
Show your love for Jesus by sharing Bible verses, the livestream of your church service, or Christian memes on your own page.
Making a political statement by posting pictures of guns or gun collections, marijuana related products, or other attention getting, high value items
Those who support the legalization of cannabis derived products and those who hold a special fondness for the second amendment are often…not always…but often…on opposite sides of the political spectrum. But if they choose to post extensively about their interest/issue thoughtlessly, they open themselves up to the same problem. That is, announcing to anyone and everyone who sees the post that you have items in your home that are worth a lot of money.
If you must express your love for one or both of these things, or anything else that both draws attention and costs money, do it with memes, fundraisers, statuses, and pictures of you posing at events or in front of stores. Don’t post large, expensive collections of anything from inside your own house.
Revealing work, relationship, or health issues in space that is accessible to strangers
While this may not be dangerous in and of itself, it can certainly lead to danger. Nothing is going to happen if Jim Bob Jones the tenth from Battle Mountain, Nevada knows you have depression, can’t stand your boss, are tired of your wife’s overspending, or wish your friends would stop borrowing your car all the way out in Rutland, Vermont. But revealing vulnerabilities online and in public can catch the eye of dangerous people. And many of these people know precisely what to say to gain a stranger’s trust on the internet.
Post whatever you need to post wherever you need to post it, just remember what you shared and where. If you’ve been open about your struggles lately, and suddenly the perfect new friend appears, proceed with great caution.
Jumping in too quickly in online groups
Online groups can be a true blessing for many people. They can help you get support for an issue, find others who share your interests, sell your unwanted items, and learn new skills. They can also make your issues worse, introduce you to people who just add stress to your life, and get you scammed.
Anybody can start a group on social media about anything. The person moderating your support group for a recently discovered health problem could be a doctor at the top of their field, with specialization in treating your issue. Or they could be a freshman down at your local community college who first heard of the problem yesterday, when they were goofing around on YouTube to put off doing their math homework. Screening methods, moderation, and others’ reasons for joining can vary too. Join any group you want to join, but hang out for a while. Read a few posts, and make sure this is a group you would truly want to share things in before posting anything personal.
“Exposing” those who have done us wrong
Exposing companies, business owners, fellow artists, and others who have professionally or personally wronged us in some way often feels like we are doing something to serve our fellow musicians, actors, sculptors, photographers, writers, and other artists. And we certainly shouldn’t just keep quiet and let scammers and other shady types have at our community. But publicly telling off everyone connected with your every bad experience can be dangerous to your career.
Reserve “exposures” or “calling out” for those who are truly engaging in dishonest or unsafe practices on a regular basis. Indulging in an online rant against the manager of every venue where you had a less than stellar experience does not help your fellow artists. It scares us. We don’t want to work with you, and we don’t want to recommend you to our contacts who might hire you, because we’re afraid of the public shaming we’ll get if the slightest thing displeases you.
None of us are perfect online or offline. We are all going to post things we later realize we shouldn’t have shared, mindlessly click on things, and make comments we know we shouldn’t have bothered making. Just take a step back more often than not. The internet is indeed forever, and that post you just had to comment on, that meme you just had to like, or that opportunity to join or respond to something will probably be there tomorrow, or an hour from now, or ten minutes from now, after you’ve thought it through.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com