Don’t talk to strangers

In an odd coincidence, given my post about cell phone contents from yesterday, and my general boggling at the volume of content that “kids these days” produce, I got a first-hand look at how that happens last night. (Update: Amusingly, I just found this, too.)

From time to time people misuse two of my email addresses. I don’t think a lot of people understand that Gmail doesn’t recognize certain spacers, so sock.monkey@ goes to sockmonkey@. Also, people forget numbers and things, so what should have been sockmonkey2000@ ends up going to sockmonkey@. You get the idea. Well, sockmonkey@ is me, and fairly regularly I get signed up for online kids’ games and social networks, emails from teachers, emails from grandmas, and all manner of other stuff. I also get mobile-centric, like iMessages and people trying to FaceTime with me.

Most of the time it’s just mildly annoying. When I can, I get my address removed from accounts, or login and do it myself. I let teachers and grandmas know they have the wrong address, and I refuse FaceTime requests and ignore texts until the people clue in. Sometimes it’s worrisome, as teachers have sent me pictures of people’s kids, and pre-teens have tried to have texting conversations with me.

There’ve also been messages that I’m not entirely sure were actually from kids. It’s a tactic predators can use to crack open the door, so to speak. And some “kids” have said some rather odd and aggressive things. Blech.

So last evening when I was in class at krav, I got some texts. Good thing my ringer was turned off, because when I left and got out to my car, I discovered I had 135 texts — within less than an hour and a half. Needless to say I was a bit surprised. (I might get that many texts in six months, usually.)

Turns out a girl who’d been accidentally texting me for a few days (but who I thought had clued in and stopped), added me to a group chat with 13 other kids. And they were talking. A lot. Actually no, they weren’t. Most of the messages were emoji. A surprising number were from kids added to the chat, pretty annoyed, demanding to be left alone.

Note that all of these kids were added to the list by email address or phone number, and I could see all of them. And I’m pretty sure these kids weren’t even in high school yet. (I googled the girl who’d added me to the group a few days ago, and it was scary how much I could find and how easily.)

Things were reasonably quiet overnight, and I figured I’d just ignore it as I usually do, and it would go away. Except then they started up at 7am. I was not impressed. So I told them that they had the wrong email address and to stop texting me. I also pointed out that they’d sent all of their contact information to a total stranger.

Instead of taking that seriously, I got a bunch of replies like, “I’m not a stranger, I’m _____!” Yep, I had their emails and phone numbers, and now they were telling me their names.

Then the girl who added me to the group said, “That’s not a stranger, that’s my friend Gabs!” I replied that no, I was not “Gabs”, sockmonkey@ was not her email address, and that she should really be more careful. That apparently got through to her.

I got a flurry of, “OMG sorry!!!” and was asked to delete the messages. I replied that I had been deleting the messages for a week, and to remove me from the list. (Yeah, because deleting a message will fix everything.) Finally, the messages stopped. I kinda hope they were a tad freaked out when they got to school that day.

All told, over 200 messages in ~12 hours, and they weren’t even saying anything. And I would love to have a chat with their parents…

“We are the media.”

Hat tip to Amanda Palmer for the title (at least one of the most widely quoted versions).

I was reading this post, and was stopped dead in my tracks.

Not from the facts and realities of the case, with which I am more than well acquainted at this point. But with numbers. Numbers that illustrated, in spades, just how much I am not “the kids these days”, nor create/share media (especially mobilely) with anywhere near the prevalence they do.

Read the numbers below, and then ponder a moment the various implications of that much content, that much of their lives shareable with the whole world, pretty much instantly. Oh, and stored, edited, data mined…

According to ABC News, “[t]he contents of 13 cell phones were analyzed, which amounted to 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, 940 videos, 3,188 phone calls and 16,422 contacts.”

Or broken down a bit, per person/phone, on average:

texts: 30482.31
photos: 23737.38
videos: 72.31
calls: 245.23
contacts: 1263.23

And that doesn’t even say how long each person had had their phone. Or the contents that had previously been deleted and wasn’t recovered.

Given the aforementioned blog post, “pics or it didn’t happen”, indeed…

“Let them…”

While I’ve never managed to be a fan of her music, I do enjoy the art and adventures she gets up to, and really enjoyed Amanda Palmer’s recent TED talk. Which, I think, applies to communities well beyond the boundaries of evolving the music business.