Online Dangers

I am very suspicious of online activity and I try my best to maintain my privacy. I dropped FaceBook many years ago because of the numerous security risks that were known even at that time. Because of my former job with the military, I was informed about the dangers of online activity when not taking precautions to protect myself.

I spoke with Hal repeatedly through the years about his use of social media. My concern grew when he got involved with the VR community and the complicated things that went on there. I explained to Hal that VR was a perfect hideout for hackers and other people of dubious character. Hal always told me that I worried too much, and that he was careful. I knew from the experiences he talked about with me that this wasn’t the case, but I had to defer to his judgment.

A few days ago, Hal told me he suspected that his account had been hacked by one of his VR “friends”. Sadly, this turned out to be the case. Luckily, this person was more of an asshole hacker than a malicious one, but that didn’t make me feel any better. When Hal told me that he was getting text messages on his phone from that person, my inner alarms went off. I have to take Hal’s word that he never gave his number to anyone in the VR community. I explained to Hal that this was the final, incontrovertible truth that he had been hacked.

It has been pure turmoil watching Hal take every precaution AFTER the damage has been done. Thankfully, none of his bank accounts or credit cards have been hacked….yet. I spoke with a former colleague who works cybersecurity and put him in touch with Hal. Hal had to hear someone other than me tell him to reevaluate his online activity, and to take precautions BEFORE something like this happens again because it will.

Hal finally understands what I was telling him for years. I’m not upset with him, I just wish I could have done more to convince him that online is a dangerous place. Everyone needs to be careful. I hope that the scenario is almost over, and that life can get back to so-called normal around here.

As I joked with Hal for several years, reality is bad enough. I want no part in sone online parody of real life!

40 Years

I graduated from high school 40 years ago next month. Time flies and creeps simultaneously in life. I haven’t stayed in touch with people from my hometown because I never felt we had much in common. I occasionally saw a few old classmates back in the day when I used FaceBook, but once I got rid of FaceBook that contact stopped. It was sad in a way, but not overwhelming. I haven’t been in my hometown in over 20 yers, since Mom passed away and I went back fo take care of business. Until that time, I did visit her, or paid to have her fly out to visit me wherever I was at the time.

I thought about this 40-year anniversary and wonder if there is a reunion planned. I haven’t attended any reunions so far, I don’t think I want to start now. It would be interesting to know what is going on, but I don’t want to let all those people from so long ago into my life again. I left them behind when I left my hometown for college and then joined the Navy. I have seen so many wonderful things that directly contradict the small-minded viewpoints I saw on FaceBook from people still in my hometown. My worldview evolved and I don’t want to walk into an environment where conflict is likely.

Through the years I have interacted with some of my classmates, as I mentioned earlier. I could feel the tension involved with communicating after all the years apart. Life experiences were not compatible with people who never left our hometown. Those people fell into the conventional approach to life and are stranded there. I could feel the frustration in their voices when I told them about places I have been and people I have met. What starts as jealousy turns to distrust and in some cases, outright hatred.

I represent what they could have been if they took the initiative when they were younger. I don’t claim to be superior, but I do feel comfortable with my life and hold no jealousy towards them. I am the outcast and that suite me fine. There are others from our class who went into the world. None of them have gone back to our hometown either. I cannot say if they feel the same way I do, but that is none of my business.

I suppose that the symbolic 40-year milestone is why I am thinking about these things. I have done well without returning for 40 years, I see no reason to go back now. I hold no ill will, I just cannot miss something that I never had, and that is a connection to my hometown after all these years.