LinkedIn and lose out: When social media leaves us too connected

Christine Colleran

By now I hope everyone has heard of the recent LinkedIn security breach. If you haven’t you should probably take a Words with Friends break and download a New York Times app. Or, I don’t know; socialize with people whose dinner schedule isn’t decided by when Keeping Up with the Kardashians airs.

Anyway, for the sake of the column, I’ll give you a quick re-cap.

LinkedIn, a major social networking website focused on connecting career-minded professionals around the world, was hacked. Sensitive information (including passwords) from over 6.4 million LinkedIn users appeared on the internet for all to see.

Now this LinkedIn fiasco reminds me of why technology and I do not always mix. In fact sometimes I hate it (go ahead, gasp in horror- scream “Blasphemy!” through the hallowed halls of our campus).

It’s just that technology often makes me feel much too connected.

I hate that if I don’t speak with my mother for two days, or update my Facebook status during this time period, she assumes I’m lying in a ditch somewhere.

I hate texting, the way the little words never go away. That guilty feeling I get when I look at my texts and they seem to say, “I know you have read me, NOW RESPOND.”

I hate that you can never really escape your work because unless you are, in fact, lying in a ditch you have seen your boss’s calls, texts, e-mails and skywriting – and he or she knows it too.

LinkedIn is one of those websites designed to keep us connected; but while LinkedIn holds less sensitive information than some sites, private information is private information. I don’t necessarily blame LinkedIn for the breach; I have a mini-hacker for a brother and know it could happen anywhere. I blame the individuals who trust the websites.

In the case of most technology, many websites included, the good outweighs the bad. But what if a LinkedIn member uses a leaked password as a password for other sites? Websites that contain credit card numbers or personal e-mail accounts? Important people could be affected; even President Obama is a LinkedIn member.

Technology exists as the most incredible concept, one that can’t even really be contained into a definition – and that’s what makes it scary.

I love calling my mother to reassure her that I am still alive. I love being connected to friends and family online. I love that I can give WebMD my symptoms and that it diagnoses me (this happens more than it should).

I’m not suggesting you abandon technology and go off to find yourself in the woods. I mean anyone who has read “Walden” knows that’s no fun. Rather, use technology with discretion, because personal information can truly be a weapon against you.

Change your passwords often and review websites before you give them your credit card information, small sites often don’t have the money to protect themselves, as they should.

Practice safe Internet – and let ending up in a ditch be the most of your mother’s worries.

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