“Stalking Your Ex? There’s An App For That.”
by Shereen Reda, Prevention Program Coordinator, Sexual Violence Center
I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to function without my phone or computer. I freak out when I can’t access my e-mail, or when a call is dropped, or the computer freezes. It says a lot about how much I (we all?) rely on technology to stay organized, keep in touch, and essentially, to make life easier. It also shows me how my (our?) expectations have changed. It’s no longer the standard for a website to take 30 seconds to load, to have a dial-up internet connection, to not own a cell phone or have an e-mail address. Knowledge grows, technologies diversify, products improve, and we get used to “the new normal”.
In essence, we become desensitized. It’s the nature of humanity, and perhaps of growth and progress. When something no longer has the same effect, or something faster/stronger/simpler/whatever is introduced, we move on and we don’t really think much about it, until one day, we look back and realize that something’s changed (what ever happened to video cassettes anyway?).
Here’s what scares me: what else have we just, consciously or unconsciously, come to accept as normal? There’s now an understanding that you can learn about any topic by going online; that you can track your location with the use of GPS; that your phone knows your family’s phone numbers better than you do; and that we store so much of our lives in our technologies that if that technology was somehow compromised, we’d be well, out of luck frankly.
I recently came across a parodied iPhone commercial (view it here), and it got me thinking. From what I’ve mentioned above, as technology diversifies, as we store more of ourselves into hardware and software, the personal risk and exposure increases. Things designed to connect us more don’t always make it clear who is connecting. I’m not meaning for this to perpetuate fear or anything. I think it’s just the reality of the situation, and as consumers and citizens, we should inform ourselves. Google your own name. See how easy it is to find out about someone. I looked myself up and found my full address, age, relatives of the same last name – just to name a few things, all available online…creepy.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month in the US. 1 in 4 stalking victims reported that some form of technology was used to stalk them. Some things you can do to protect yourself are to know your privacy settings, emergency phone numbers, state laws, and local resources. Click here for some more great information.
How much do you know about stalking? Take this quiz to find out – you might be surprised by the results.