Thursday, January 19, 2012

Privacy: Knowing So Much, Yet So Little

Privacy is always a big topic. When I was brand new to the online world of adult spanking, I was encouraged to make a scene name rather than use my real name. Also to not divulge many personal details about things like my job, my family, my location. I still think that this is good advice, though it may seem that I've thrown some of it out the window. Many who regularly read this blog have heard about my husband, what state I live in, and what my profession is. I don't think I'm interesting enough to have a stalker, but if I did there certainly aren't enough specific details for someone to locate me from any of that. Privacy can be a fine line though.

I never considered myself to be an overly paranoid person, but one does have to be careful. Especially online when really anyone could be behind the keyboard. It seems that those who truly do have questionable motives or are predators tend to get naturally weeded out, though. They run their game on so many people that word gets around and everyone learns what to watch for and who to avoid. But in the online world, they can always just create a new fake persona and start all over again. Somebody must be falling for it or they all would've faded away by now, right? The big upside to the internet age is that so many of us with this kink can so easily connect and know that we aren't alone. There are groups and forums for discussion and blogs like this one where we can read and interact and learn. But at the same time, the downside seems to be that we can so easily connect. You don't always know who you are really talking to. Discretion has to come into play.

When discovering the spanking world, I was amazed by all the people who were out there who thought the same way I did. Finding a group to chat with about these things was incredible. When you are sharing such deep thoughts and desires that you have kept secret for so many years, it almost seems silly to worry about someone knowing something like your first name. On this very blog, so many of you have followed along with my ups and downs and innermost feelings. Yet we could pass each other on the street and not know who the other was. Isn't that a bit strange? I don't disagree with keeping certain things private, because sadly it can be necessary. People worry about being outed and losing their jobs or their spouse finding out or whatever. Everyone has their own reasons.

Those of us who have been around for a while have formed many friendships. Many of these do cross over the line of "scene friend" into our everyday lives. I'm happy to have made all the friends that I have, whether I know them online only or we've met many times and played. Even if I haven't met someone in person, they are no less a friend. But the ones that have crossed over into my every day life took time. Would you sit down with a stranger at the mall and automatically tell them where you live and work? Of course not. The same goes for online interactions. Anybody who is trustworthy and a friend won't push you for details. It was years into friendship before I had a few people come to visit and welcomed them in my home. Even just last month, I actually had to ask someone who I've talked to nearly daily for the past two years, "hey what's your last name so I can send you a package for Christmas?" I felt a bit ridiculous even having to ask and we both had a laugh over it. But that's just how it is sometimes.

I had concerns about privacy when I started this blog. Not just for my own, but for those I play with and what details I share. Discretion is needed there, too. There are many things I don't share and information I leave out that is personal. If there's a certain scene I have that I'm thinking of writing about, I will always ask the other person involved if they mind if I write about it and even if they have a preference of how I refer to them. I often just use initials or their scene name, but I always ask. Even the top I lovingly refer to as "Mr. Grumpypants" was well aware I was going to share his new nickname. Lol. I'll often email the link to the blog post I write to the person so they can read it. If there was ever a problem with something I wrote, I'd edit or remove it. These are all things I think about because I'd hate for someone to feel like I'd crossed a line. The first party I ever attended after starting this blog, I thought about jokingly carrying a disclaimer in my pocket and asking them to sign it after our scene, agreeing that it was okay for me to share what had happened. Never did do that though. Lol.

To anyone new to all this, I'd recommend to just use common sense. Go slow. Get to know someone fairly well before getting into more personal, especially vanilla, subjects. If someone chooses to share a lot of personal info with you early on, that is their choice. You don't have to reciprocate. If anyone does push for personal information early on, beware. You aren't obligated to tell anyone anything. If people pressure you to send a picture of yourself to prove that you are real, tell them to take a hike. If the time comes to exchange phone numbers, you can even protect your privacy there, too. Go look up Google Voice. You get to pick a phone number and it forwards calls and texts to that number to your real number. And it's a completely free service. If you have run into some assholes along the way, try not to get discouraged. There are a lot of good people out there in the spanking world and they are worth the time in getting to know. I've found that the friendships built over time are the ones that will blossom the most.

11 comments:

bree said...

Good advice, Lea. I am glad you posted this. It is a shame that we have to do this to protect ourselves from the creepy people minority. It is necessary, though.

I think that people who are lonely and friendless are the most vunerable. They are the ones that are most likely to be impatient and want it all quickly, because their need is greater. Taking it slow and safe is sage advice to all, though.

:)

joeyred51 said...

Lea,

You are so right lea. There are lots of terrific people in the spanking world. It takes time and effort to get to know them but it is worth it.

joey

kiwigirliegirl said...

great post, fantastic advice Lea thanks for sharing. The internet is a very scary place at times. I have to watch myself because I can give so much info away without even realizing it myself.
Love and hugs kiwi xxxx

Hermione said...

Hi Lea,

That is all excellent advice. Sometimes when people share a lot of personal info with you, they automatically expect you to do the same, even if you aren't comfortable with that. Follow your instincts.

Hugs,
Hemione

Lea said...

@bree, Yes wouldn't it be lovely if there were no creeps out there? Sadly that isn't so.

@joey, Absolutely and we both know many of the good ones.

@kiwi, I agree, you have to be careful to know when to draw the line.

@Hermione, Yes I don't think anyone should feel obligated to reciprocate. Thanks for stopping by!

A.S.S. said...

When we first got into the scene, we were extremely cautious. Cautious to the point of almost being total lurkers, only rarely posting on the old newsgroups and then later some online forums. We had a young son and just felt better going really slow. We did open up in time though, and as we took steps we felt safer and safer... before we finally were basically out there. Started our blog, attending parties, meeting other spankos... and having folks come to our house.

Everything seemingly went well. It got to where we'd invite a new friend over pretty early in the process. If they were a friend of a friend, that was good enough.

In hindsight, we really wish we would not have done that! Definitely have had people in our home... and thus close to us... that turned out to be bad news. Some of these people think nothing of taking that personal information they have gathered and using it to hurl what they probably assume are harmless and petty little attacks at us in public forums. Stuff about where we live... how our home is set up (like how many TV remotes we have)... how we run our home, who cooks dinner, etc-etc. Those things are actually pretty disconcerting though. That some petty and mean spirited people have had access to our home and family and think nothing of using it in their game... it's not comfortable.

That things have always gone well and we'd have never been burned was not a good reason to start skipping steps. Take your time and really get to know someone before allowing them into your life. Get to know them for yourself too. Both positive and negative recommendations tend to be biased. If you like someone, you sort of gloss over any possible issues... if you dislike them, you exaggerate them.

There are no shortcuts. You really are better off being safe than sorry. At the very least, you'll sleep better at night having taken your time. Trust that little voice in your head too. If someone strikes you as off, trust that. The person that has caused us the most problems in the scene was someone we spotted day one as a petty, mean and vindictive person... but we glossed over that because they were friends with other friends and so long as we didn't get too close we couldn't get hurt. Lesson learned there.

Have met many-many wonderful people in the scene, including some of our closest and most trusted friends. Going at a reasonable speed, getting to really know them ourselves, trusting our instincts and using common sense was never any sort of hindrance in building those relationships either.

~Todd and Suzy

sarah thorne said...

Lea,

This is such an important topic and so worth repeating over and over. Most can indeed be weeded out, yes, but there are a few who are skillful enough (because they've been doing it their whole lives) to appear normal for a time, especially when the majority of interactions are through a computer. On the computer, anyone can be whatever you want. With these kinds of people, it can take a little bit of time to start to notice little inconsistencies that translate into real life when you are with that person. In real life, they can not maintain that same deception as well as they can online.

My advice has always been to be diligent. Don't write things off as 'no big deal' when you start sensing something is not right. Your subconscious senses things many times even when you can not pinpoint WHY on a conscious level. Any time I have NOT listened to that little voice, because I didn't wanna appear to be denying someone friendliness for no reason, I've regretted it.

One of the reasons some who are parasitic can continue to do what they do is because they hop from group to group. When one group weeds them out, they find another unrelated group to leech onto, until that group figures them out too. They find
newbies' in the scene who don't yet really know any better. They prey on them, really. They rarely have long term relationships because they can't keep friends. So you're right in that they can be weeded out in that regard. But they never stop what they're doing.

It's important that people in the community continue to address this. It is important for people who have been targeted by a predator to let others know. I know some who call this 'gossip under the guise of scene safety', but anyone who says that probably has a reason why they don't want others talking about their experiences with bad apples.

Great post and advice.

sarah

findingsara said...

I agree Lea, an important topic and very good advice. Many people are real, honest and nice people...but a few are not any of those things, and it's very easy to hide behind a screen! Sara

Lea said...

@Todd and Suzy, Trusting one's instincts is very good advice. Thanks for stopping by!

@sarah, I agree that new people do seem like easier targets to predators. Fortunately, most in the scene who I know are very protective of friends and especially newbies to help prevent those kinds of incidents.

@Sara, Yes it is very easy for one to hide behind a screen. But I promise, I really am real. And nice. ;-)

Lea said...

Privacy was of utmost concern to me as well. I chose a scene name, just as you did. Exactly as you did, in fact! (My actual name is too unique to use anyway)

I often think about how I refer to others, and myself in the blog world. I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to privacy. Not for stalking sense, but for things going public. I don't want certain people knowing about my personal life, like my job for instance.

Lea said...

@Lea, That's understandable. It's too bad we can't live in a world where people mind their own business and don't judge what others do in their free time, but that's just how it is so privacy is a concern for many.