I know a lot about technology. I’ve taught people from preschool to aging seniors. I write blogs, participate in social media sites, and love my e-mail. I know enough to keep my digital accounts out of danger, until now, that is …
On Thursday early evening, I came home, terribly tired — maybe too tired to work on technology tasks. With a cup of tea I sat down to look over my blogs and Twitter account where I discovered a funny message, from someone I know and respect. That Tweet reported on a not-so-nice Tweet about me, and I only needed to click on the link to check it out.
Now I have been teaching digital common sense and responsibility for nearly 20 years. I have made presentations to kids, parents, teachers, church members, seniors, and even newly arrived immigrants about taking care, not opening attachments, and not clicking on links. But in this case I did not even think about it. I clicked, and the naughty link did its work, sending out copies of the message to every one of my followers.
Twenty minutes later, fortified by my tea and snack, and with the help of Anne Collier at Net Family News, I realized what was going on, but of course it was way too late.
I spent the entire evening changing my passwords, disconnecting Twitter from all my other accounts, and responding via e-mail — mea culpa — to my followers about the funny message that arrived in their Twitter accounts. I also wrote a blog post with instructions to help others undo the damage.
I was lucky — the post was a huge irritant, but nothing more. But why wasn’t I alert? Why was this time different?
The experience was an exercise in humility, and it worked. The next time a colleague or student or a friend or a parent or anyone else comes to me with malware, a spam problem, or a virus, I’ll be a lot less likely to wonder, “What was this person thinking?”