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You've been warned -- many times, in fact.
Whether you use Facebook, or blog, or tweet, or otherwise use social media to broadcast your whereabouts, you've been warned about the downside of telling a wide swath of people that you're not home right now. "Oh," you say, "they're all my friends."
If you've ever creeped on others' Facebook pages in search of the long-long classmate, or discovered the portals that "friends of friends" can open, you know how easy it is to find way more about a person than they may mean to reveal.
With the traveling and parties associated with the holidays, the warnings have been revived, but the concerns are more than simply railing against FB's narcissism. Even those folks who know not to proclaim their status as "Off to Grandma's for the weekend!" may not think twice about then gleefully posting photos of the whole family unwrapping gifts.
When was the photo posted?
Four minutes ago.
I don't mean to fan the flames of paranoia here. Any decent crook worth his wirecutters weighs the odds of various homes being unoccupied for the odd evening this time of year. But why make a Grinch's life so easy?
Not convinced that you're oversharing? Here are some figures:
Almost 1 in 5 adults use their profile to communicate with people they don’t know.
Almost half of adults who have a current social network profile leave privacy settings open.
More than 9 in 10 teens are social media friends with people they don’t know well, if at all.
Switch off the "add location to your tweets" function if you’re tweeting while on vacation.
Disconnect Foursquare from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, so it doesn’t update those sites when you check in. Better yet, don’t check in.
Besides making your home more secure, it will also cut down on the number of your friends and followers muttering, "Who cares?"
Spring cleaning is upon us, that annual process of winnowing out the stuff that's accumulated over winter -- up to and sometimes including the odd holiday gift. It's gearing up for washing windows, vacuuming behind the fridge, repotting the houseplants and flipping the mattresses.
Or, yes, just thinking about doing all those things and settling for accomplishing half of them. But that counts, too.
What also counts is doing something about an accumulation of stuff that I don't associate with spring cleaning, but is just as crucial to an organized and efficient life: Cleaning my electronic household.
I'm talking about clearing out old e-mails, taking a hard look at the Favorites queue, going over the address book for everything from duplications to death.
How many pages have I "liked" on Facebook, only to never click on them again? Although I imagine that "unliking" is not a particularly social attribute of social media. I'll file that under the category "no harm in leaving well enough alone."
Better to cull the photos that should never have been posted. Along the same lines, it's time to finally upload those photos that have been languishing in the camera, despite every promise to share them with others.
As I type this, I realize that I have a folder filled with the photos that have run with each Homegirls blog post. I should clean them out -- not because I'm running out of cyberspace, but because it's simply more efficient to dispose of what I no longer need.
Just as we doublecheck the window locks, we should check out security and privacy settings. If you're like me, I need to consolidate the scraps of paper with the various log-ons and passwords for what now constitutes my life, variously stashed in a desk cubby, a billfold pocket or simply slipped under the keyboard.
Don't judge. I'm on it.
You get the drift: Cleaning off a desktop or going through various e-mailboxes can be every bit as satisfying as cleaning out a closet or organizing the spice drawer. Perhaps moreso since many of us spend a lot more time on the computer these days than rummaging for oregano.
What do you do to keep your electronic life ship-shape throughout the year?
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