Author: JT Langdon © 2005

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Most people (but sadly, not all) know better than to give out things like their home address or social security number to a total stranger. No one would post their credit card number into a chat room. But there are other things people talk about without even thinking that is equally dangerous.

A friend recently came to me about a potential online Dom who was demanding to know her every day activities... what time she left for work, what she did throughout the day, etc. I warned her to be careful. While giving this information to someone after you have built up a level of trust to the point where you have a relationship and call them your Dom is one thing; but to give out this kind of information to a stranger is reckless. To make my point, I used this example. My friend recently got a job at Walmart, working in the shoe department. I asked her how many Walmarts were in her area. She said one. So I asked her, if I knew she was working Wednesday night from 5 to 9 how hard would it be for me to find her? That made her understand. Even if there were several Walmarts in her general area, a stalker could easily call each one, ask for the shoe department, ask for her by name, and find out which one she was working at. She wouldn't think anything of the guy looking at shoes later that night until she was walking to her car after work, turned around, and saw him. Or perhaps he would watch her get into her car and follow her home, putting herself AND her kids at risk.

The anonymity of the internet can create a false sense of security. I have seen people in chat room says things that, at a glance, seem perfectly innocent. And taken out of context, they ARE innocent. But predators are called that for a reason... they stalk their prey. What you say in a chat room today may be useless information on its own. But when combined with what you said yesterday... and the day before that... and the day before that... well, like pieces of a puzzle these little things can be put together to form a picture. All it takes is a little deductive reasoning, an observant eye, and devious thoughts. You may think nothing of talking about your life in public, but to the predators out there it's like panning for gold... each little tidbit of information is a little nugget stored away until enough is collected to be worth something.

I'm not saying this to scare people away from meeting people online. I've made some wonderful friends online, friendships that have grown beyond cyberspace. I've vacationed with people I met online, been to their weddings. To get to the point where you can meet someone in person, trust has to be established, you have to get to know them. And it's hard to get to know someone without telling them about yourself. But do so with good judgment. Caution is common sense in all parts of our lives. But don't think that just because you are hiding behind a clever screen name that someone more clever can't piece together enough information about your life to be a potential threat.


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