Have you noticed wherever we go, most people are fixated on their smartphones? It’s as though we are nothing more than an imprint of the device we carry. We can be anything, go anywhere (in our mind) with these pesky little machines that we all too often use to convey ourselves as what we are not and perhaps who we would like to be? We can even be pets or worst-case scenario a stalker or bully. Do we really know who we are talking to? Furtherly worrying is during the journey of internet portrayal, do we realise that our entire existence is potentially recorded in a worldwide database that is nothing short of an invasion of our privacy?
For those that are more knowledgeable than (until recently) myself regarding the pros and cons of today’s social media – they can take the obvious precautions to protect their privacy. Despite this, my research shows that frighteningly, no smartphone is untraceable. There are plenty of websites where you simply put in a phone number and within seconds it will tell you where that person is. This is an advantage for those who’ve misplaced their phone or had it stolen whilst out and about. However, not so useful if like me, you often travel alone and visit remote places where you certainly do not want people to know your whereabouts. For instance, if I’m at the top of the mountain near my second home in Wales, I don’t want Google to tell the world there’s a woman wandering around at dusk in the middle of nowhere.
It wasn’t until recently I was made aware that my entire life was available on the internet. My whereabouts, even where I had lunch that day. It’s prompted me to put my sim card back in the old generic handset I used to rely on and I feel much better about it. I can make calls, send texts, there’s no internet and it works for me. Not to mention it’s substantially cheaper without all the add ons and Apps.
And what about minors who are given smartphones for their own protection so they can call home and vice versa. Do we want the world to know what parks they play in?
Here are some basic tips to check up on:
1. Research the make and model of your handset to find where you can change your privacy
settings and learn how to block numbers.
2. Turn off Google locations.
3. Turn of GPS and Bluetooth if they are not necessary to your needs.
4. Ensure your number is not listed on your service providers database for others to find.
5. Block spam numbers. They will often sell your number to other agencies.
6. Do not put your number online or give to shopping channels or add to any survey forms both on and offline.
7. Be aware that all of your web searches are potentially recorded.
8. Use passwords that are complexed and never in the name of your pets or nicknames, etc. And certainly, do not use your DOB or any other obvious names or numbers in your life.
9. If you are fearful about who has your number. Call your service provider and get it changed.
10. Google your own number to see where it is listed and ask any sites using your number to remove it immediately.
The above advice is only a precaution and unquestionably will not fully secure your privacy, but these are the right steps to ensure you are doing what is available to protect your privacy and safety. Smartphones can be fun. They are a lifeline for many. Equally, they can be evasive and a distraction that often stops our engagement with the real world.
A while ago, I embarked on a steam railway journey through the Yorkshire Dales. It was an amazing opportunity to take photographs of such a nostalgic trip, but I noticed there were people on their phones completely unaware of the beauty around them. I felt it was a shame. A waste of what could be a few hours lost in our natural countryside and memories of bygone years.
I recently went out for dinner with a friend to a beautiful restaurant set on the river in Leeds. Sadly, with a smartphone on the table. Maybe I am old fashioned but I think it’s rude to bring a third party to an intimate setting. Each part of our meal appearing on Facebook and Instagram. It seemed to the world we were having a fabulous time. Although, we didn’t speak much due to the entire date being an elaborately staged photo shoot for strangers on the internet.
I often wonder how the world would manage for just one week without a phone other than for emergency services or to tell our loved we are safe? I suppose it’s about breaking the habit. The cycle.
Life becomes more vivid when we see it through our own eyes and not third-party bits of technology that make all things glow in ways that are unreal.
By Tiffany Belle Harper
Visit Tiffany’s Site here: www.belleva.co.uk