Social media have people broadcasting what they are doing every hour, day, and minute. Blogs and newsletters posted online share photos and personal details to anyone who is interested. It is amazing to be able to connect so easily with people around the world and learn what they are doing.
But think before you share.
A few days ago my father, who is in his 80s, was ready to send away $3,000 because of the convincing information he heard from a stranger who phoned him. The caller knew personal information about a relative who was supposedly in trouble because of a serious car accident hundreds of miles from home. The caller knew details of my father's life, including how to find him and where to tell him to go to wire money.
Lucky for us, a wise bank teller hesitated before giving my father $3,000 in cash to wire to a stranger. She told him it sounded like a scam and gave him good instructions on what to do next.
It turned out that the relative in question (who was not in an accident) has lots of information about our family on Facebook. He also has hundreds of Facebook friends, many of whom he doesn't know.
Millions of us post personal updates that are available for all the world to see, but not everyone who sees them wants what is best for us.
I extend this caution not only to users of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. So much of what we write is automatically uploaded. Newsletters, especially from nonprofit organizations, used to be printed and sent only to organization members and supporters. Now they are posted online, containing information about who has a new job, who has moved (often with a new address), who has a unique hobby or story, who is meeting where and at what time, and who is traveling. Stories with colorful details are the most fun to read, but they also broadcast the most useful details to those who may do us harm.
I write a monthly "what's up with whom" column for my church. When the newsletter was mailed to our homes, I could write freely about who needed cards, visits, meals, prayers, kudos, etc. Now that the newsletter is online, I hesitate to include last names or other identifying information. (And I originally put the real name of the column at the beginning of this paragraph, but then changed it to prevent anyone from searching for it.)
Sorry to be a wet blanket on the fires of creativity and communication! Do you think I am overreacting?