“Going through my search history makes me feel self-conscious. Many of the things I’ve searched for can be completely innocent or potentially explosive and used as a tool for revenge.”
As I clear my internet history, sign out of my mail accounts, check my banking is secure, delete any bills, apps, and documents, double-check photos are secure and make sure messages are still disabled, I wonder who else does this week after week.
My kids live between my ex-husband’s home and mine, and they share iPads between the houses. When we bought them, I set their iPads up because they needed an Apple ID. I signed into Google. In doing this I have exposed myself and it causes me a lot of unease.
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Do you have devices that go between two homes? Image: iStock.
I’m not paranoid
OK, I definitely can be a little, but I know information can be powerful. It has been powerful in the past. An accidental photo on messenger, or a leaked phone bill can be used as a weapon.
My relationship with my ex is frosty and has been marred by secrets, mistrust, and betrayal. Technology has made it easy to find out information about each other and use it to our advantage. In the past, there was no innocent party in this. Well, except the kids, obviously, who love to be connected and consume technology on a daily basis, at both of our houses. They constantly ask for passwords and need apps and websites to be set up and linked for them to use.
Going through my search history makes me feel self-conscious. In the past week, I’ve searched “How many calories are in a schnitzel?” “What hairstyle suits me?” “How much is laser hair removal?” I’ve searched for cheap wrinkle cures, slime recipes, lingerie sales, mental health questions, potential high schools, holidays, sexual health queries, and medication questions.
All of these things can be completely innocent or potentially explosive and used as a tool for revenge. It makes me feel unsafe and watched and I worry in the middle of the night.
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Technology allows for information to go back and forth. Image: iStock.
I don’t blame him
If I had that information at the tip of my fingers, I’m sure I would go down a rabbit hole too. Trust me, I have gone down that poisonous rabbit hole before. Nothing good came from it, but I spent a whole weekend cradling an iPad, waiting for messages and pictures and information to come through, not wanting to see any of it, but unable to look away.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
We relentlessly stalk exes on social media, desperate to discover something about them and spiralling when we actually do. Humans are strange creatures. We are drawn to the things that hurt. We don’t seem to learn from this.
Without shared devices with kids, it’s fairly simple to change passwords, turn off location services and start a new digital footprint, but for my ex and I, we share these children, and therefore we still share our private lives. The kids are too young to manage their accounts themselves. I have control over their YouTube, Tik Tok, Nintendo, and messages, and that’s the way it should be because they are obviously vulnerable. But in doing so, I sacrifice my online security.
I use iCloud across my computers for work, log into different servers and websites every day and this makes me susceptible to invasions of privacy.
Add in a home office and you might be leaving yourself open. Image: iStock.
Perhaps, these days, it’s all in my head
Perhaps after three years, the dust has settled and my ex is no longer interested in anything I do, is not invested in gathering information, or using it against me. This is probably the case as my ex is in a new relationship and has a new life. But anxiety is hard to shake when you have carried it around for so long it’s become a scar. That’s the thing about scars. Time passes, wounds heal, and sometimes you can’t even really feel them, but scars protrude and are discoloured and remind us of the things we have been through.
Whether my privacy has been breached or not, by someone I know or I don’t know, there are measures I can put in place for piece of mind. I’ve swung between complacency and nagging worry. But the 3am thoughts are disruptive so I went to the Government’s eSafety site for tips on how we can all be more secure online.
When it comes to privacy and online safety, parents worry about their kids, and we do whatever it takes to put measures in place to keep them safe. However, we adults can all do better in keeping our own information secure. The thought of being hacked, watched or abused online is horrifying, and small safety measure can keep us all protected.