Before I begin, this is not an attack on social media, nor is it a piece about nostalgia and the “good ol’ days” (there were also some bad days in the good ol’ days and I refuse to feel old enough to utter those words). The purpose of this piece is to bring a little awareness to the dangers involved in being just a little too social on social media.
As I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook, I came across this meme and my first reaction was “ha, so true!” but then I thought about it a bit and thought at length about just how true this is, and some of the interpretations from a security mindset that I take away from this. For the purposes of this article, I’ll give a couple of hazards presented by the distraction of a mobile device and posting too much on social media, and a tip or two on how to keep yourself, and especially your kids, safe.
The first thing that jumped out in my mind when I saw this was the paradox of how a device and software that has connected billions of human beings on the planet, has become so successful at detaching those same humans from the world around them. We all know of the dangers of using such a device while driving, but there are others that might not seem so apparent. Want to try a social experiment? Wherever you are right now, take a look up from the mobile device you are probably reading this on, which in itself should tell you something, and take into account the amount of people looking down at their own mobile device. Then, KEEP WATCHING and see if you notice what I see. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Back? Okay, so what did you see? I will tell you what I see every day, and if I’m being honest, what I am guilty of myself. I see people walking while looking at their phone, sitting across from another human being at a table….both of them intently staring at their phones, person after person looking at their phones, and not one of them paying attention to each other.
Here, in case you’re reading this while taking care of business, or if you happen to be alone, check this picture out. This is a scene that can be taken from any major city, rural town, or coastal resort across the country. It’s a global trend. This gross detachment from the personal space we occupy means a higher likelihood of criminal or malicious activity due to a severe lack of any situational awareness, a higher degree of disorder and chaos should a mass casualty event occur and, if there is any eyewitness account, it will be poor at best. I recently took a trip to Florida from Philadelphia, and did this little observation while at the airport, and I think what blew me away the most was the huge amount of time that each person was spending on their phone without looking up. In an effort to test this out, I even went so far as to sit directly across from an individual on his phone and stared at him as creepily and intently as I could with the timer on my phone going. At the three minute mark, I had to look away. THREE MINUTES. In the world of bad things happening, that is a lifetime.
To stay ahead of dangers in your immediate area, make it a point to simply look up every once in awhile. If the addiction is too strong, set yourself a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. If it goes off and you are still looking at your phone, put it in your pocket and be present wherever you are for another 5. Hopefully this can help you with your situational awareness, extend the battery life on your phone, and hey, you might even make a friend the old fashioned way!
The second potential hazard that stands out about this image is the development of adding a GPS feature to posts on social media. Whether it is a “Check In” on Facebook, adding your location to an Instagram or Snapchat photo, or hashtagging a location on Twitter, this is something you should approach with caution. Giving too much information on where you are can make you vulnerable to a number of dangers. For kids, teens, and women this is especially important if someone is looking at robbery or abduction, or assault.
Additionally, and more concerning is the new Snapchatfeature, shown here, to see on a map where your friends, and even strangers are. If you want to use this feature, be smart about it and restrict its access to your friends/family alone- not to the public. If you are itching to make a public post, just make sure you adjust the settings after you are done.
Just to be clear- I am not discouraging the use of social media, I use it myself. However, be cognizant of the inherent risks involved in being too involved in public and losing your situational awareness, as well as posting your location or activating the GPS feature. If you are a parent, this is especially important for your kids.
As always, thank you for reading this, and yes I am fully aware of the irony of this article finding its way to you through the use of social media, and the fact that we at OPS would appreciate you sharing these helpful tips with others on the networks as well. Until next time, take care and be safe out there, and happy Insta-Face-a-Snapa-Tweeting! For more tips like these, visit our blog at http://www.opssecuritygroup.com/blog.