It’s Safer Internet Day. Since this international effort — primarily about the safety and positive online interactions of young people — is co-funded by the EU, many of us in the States may never have heard of it, but I expect wider awareness since Google took up the cause by suggesting that account holders do a 2-minute security checkup today.
The online interactions I have with others are generally thoughtful and interesting. Every now and then I’m reminded how many hyperbolic, hostile, clueless, and nearly unhinged trolls there are, but I appreciate that I rarely have to deal with them. I still take it very personally. That’s my nature. Perhaps because I am introverted and shy, I am very sensitive when I extend myself into the public arena and a brush with idiocy makes me want to retreat into my shell. I wonder how I would have gotten through my tween and teen years if the Internet had been around, with the added drama of hormones, a maturing brain, and lack of perspective. While I think a lot of younger people understand online culture intuitively because it always surrounds them, many more are damaged by cruel interactions than those we see in highly publicized cyber bullying cases.
Messages about online respect and safety are important for children but there is no age cut-off. I’ll make use of this reminder to do a security update on my important accounts: changing passwords and adding 2-step authentication where I can. I’d also like to thank the people who have commented on this blog with civility and insight, even when disagreeing with me (hell, I disagree with myself much of the time, so I don’t mind that at all).
I went through Google’s 2-minute security check-up this morning and it was useful, though I couldn’t help thinking of this XKCD cartoon: