Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anonymity in the electronic age

Is there such a thing as Anonymity in the world of Email, Blogs, Websites, IM's, MySpace, Facebook and so many others? My answer to you is No. No, we no longer live in a world where we can hide behind a different name or ID, or replying to a blog with the name Anonymous, or commenting on an humorous, magnificent article that was published in a National newspaper by one of my dearest friends. And when those people commented, they hid under a different name, or the word Anonymous. They ripped my dear, dear friends personal life apart and ate it for breakfast. It could have taken her down. But, she is strong and resilient. I am proud of her.

Having worked in many different industries in the HR capacity and having come face to face time and time again with people who tried to break into a database, or send threatening emails to the President of the company, or sexually harass an employee via email under a fake name.

I must tell you, if I could track down those people and bring them to criminal charges...then, trust me when I say that most anyone now can find out who you are. I think of that woman (she is a mother) who is getting charged (rightfully so) with going under a fake name posing as a young boy and writing emails to her daughters ex-best friend. Why was she doing this? She wanted to scare or hurt that particular girl because the mother thought that girl was doing something mean to her daughter at school. So, she thought that she would go under a false name, posing as a boy on MySpace and "he" befriended her, and was sweet talking her at first and then things turned ugly. "He" told her she had no right to be on this earth, and many other things. That beautiful young teenager killed herself. Within hours..they tracked down the IP address to that specific computer and were at that mothers house within a blink of an eye.

Most people know about an IP address and some don't. An IP address is your stamp on your computer. It is like a fingerprint. Then, from that, you can track down the location, the time and date things were written and with some know who that person is. I learned easily how to hide my IP address if I wanted to. But, you can do that too...and it will show up as Unknown. But, it really isn't. With proper software, you can circumvent that and still find the person.

My husband is very technical and knows a lot about these things, but, I too know how to run reports, find out where things are coming from. Not too be nosy...but, because I have been threatened before in my role as Manager by one of my employee's husbands. Trust me, it was not a threat that was to cuss me out. It was a direct threat on the safety of myself and that of my family. I was pregnant at the time, and had to have a police officer walk me to my car. I never stop looking over my shoulder. He wrote more threatening emails to my personal email (which he found) and I was no longer at that company. He wrote it under a fake name. He was not smart enough to know that he could be tracked down. I took it all to the police. Don't think you can hide either in a library or coffee shop. I had a Father in Law who was an FBI special agent. Trust me on this, as little as I could find out from him, I found out enough that you are never, ever Anonymous.

Now...why am I bringing this up? Well, I made the choice to write this particular blog as my way to express the trials and the ups and downs of my hardships over the last few years. I chose to open up my life and become vulnerable. I did it in hopes that writing would heal my heart and help me back on the road to recovery for my physical health. Also, I hoped that maybe, just maybe I could help someone else. I have never written anything slanderous about anyone, nor would I. I realize that people could come back to me and say " put yourself out there, so, you have to take the consequences". Ok....but, not when you take aim at myself or my husband under the guise that you know me, or understood ANYTHING about this situation. But, today I received an "Anonymous" comment really trashing me and my husband. It is unfortunate that this person wrote this. It was clearly written by someone I knew or a friend of that person. The tragedy in all of this was they didn't know me and my intentions, nor my husband. I chose to open up my heart and talk about the what was hurting me. I never ever brought that persons name up. The person that I had written about will always be special. They played a role in my life and contributed to making me a better person. I refuse to call that a mistake. I have many, many types of friends. Men, Women, Gay, All ethnic backgrounds, and I could list more. That is not for you to judge me or give me a pat on my back. But, that is to say that I look at a persons heart, and not their sex, race, views. I may disagree with others beliefs, but, I will not condemn. In my life, I do have many Men friends. My husband has always known that about me. I can step out of myself and see where one could judge me as a married woman talking about a friend who happened to be male. But, that is ok...just because I am that way and my husband respects it...I am woman enough to say that I can appreciate others who may carry a different point of view. You will not change the essence of who I am.

Unfortunately, the ANONYMOUS writer had no way of knowing that I knew how to find out where the IP address was being transmitted from and the software I have laid it out knew their exact location and who that person was. What a blow, serious blow to my life in a time where I am in a Hurricane beyond proportions that this individual nor really anyone knows anything about. I called my husband immediately and the sage, calm, wise man that he is brought me down from my hysterics and knee jerk reaction to tell the person off. Instead, he asked me to take the high road and move on. Trust me, I have been through a million times worse things than this and I have come out stronger.

In closing, to my ANONYMOUS writer.... I am truly sorry that you felt the need to write what you did. I know who you are and it is a shame...a shame it has happened. Because you really don't know me at all. The personal assault on myself and my husband were all wrong. If you knew me like you think you do, you would know that in my heart still resides a childlike quality of believing the best in others. Call it a character flaw if you want. Those that are close to me for many years can tell you that I never ever mean to hurt anyone, or do anything intentional to bring one second of hurt into a persons life. But, you really don't know what is in my heart or what is going on. I have made a promise to myself that I will not reveal who you are and if we are to cross each others paths any where in this life...I will show you graciousness and I will act like I don't know you did this. But, the sad part heart knows you did. I will be praying for the best for you. I am sorry that you misunderstood everything and you wanted to really take me down. You didn't.

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