I’ve been a little delinquent here lately, but there’s a simple reason for that: I’m still unpacking. Real life intruded in the form of work, so progress has been in miniscule increments, and by my own rules, I’m not allowed to read any new books until I’m completely finished. Which is kind of killing me, to be honest, because my stack of bribe books is amazing and I desperately want to read them NOW and I can’t. So, until I get my house out of boxes and in order, posts are going to be somewhat sporadic.
This is important, though.
As some of you have probably heard, an agent was attacked this week outside of her home by a disgruntled querier.
Outside of her home.
By a disgruntled querier.
As she was posting the tweets with updates on the police side of things, my brain simply refused to believe it. I could not wrap myself around the idea that anyone could get that worked up over a form letter rejection. A FORM LETTER- nothing personal or hateful, just routine.
This was in NO WAY the agent’s fault, but I think it made a lot of realize how easy it is for our personal information to get out there for others to use.
-If you use twitter location or 4square (or similiar location announcing media), consider turning it off. Or, waiting to ‘check in’ until you’re leaving. Announcing your location through social media makes it easy for people to track you down, especially if you have a set routine*
*more on routine later
-for authors, but also especially for bloggers: if you do a lot of giveaways, consider renting a post office box. It doesn’t have to be a big one, and you never need to worry about actually receiving mail there, but you can list the post office as the return address, so you don’t have to put your home address down. A very resourceful, determined creep could narrow down to city and general area, but they won’t be able to narrow it down to, oh let’s say, your house. The little ones are pretty cheap, and even though the chances of being attacked are slim, the fact is, it does happen.
-be careful who you give your address to. Think about how many times you give out your address in a given week, either to giveaways or online purchases or even just writing it down on the return lines for bills. We get really excited that we’ve won a giveaway, but pay attention to the site on which you’ve entered- if something is giving you a bad feeling, you might not want to give out your personal information. Kind of like giving the creepy guy at the club the number of an intimidating-sounding male friend if he won’t take no for an answer on getting your digits, you might want to have a backup location (which goes back to the post office box). If you don’t want to give the creepy guy your phone number, don’t give his online parallel your address. You can do a lot worse with the address than with the phone number.
-vary your routines. A lot of have routines that we settle into. They make life easier, they make it less likely that we’ll forget to do things (or forego doing them in favor of something more interesting), and when we’re braindead and on autopilot, they make it possible to function. But routines, by the very nature of their predictability, make it easy for Creepers to guess where we are or where we’re going to be. If you get coffee at the same Starbucks every morning at 7:15, it isn’t just the baristas who’ll know to expect you. Change it up a little. Leave a little earlier. Hit up a different Starbucks. Even little things can help protect you. We’ve all seen the Criminal Minds episodes where the serial killer stalks his victims and learns their routines so he can abudct or kill with the least amount of external attention.
-if you’re outside your house and you notice someone sketchy hanging around, pay attention. They may be harmless, but they may not be. Notice what they look like, what they’re wearing, and if you get a creepy vibe, keep driving.
-when in doubt, call the police. Seriously, as irritated as it might make them to drive out and talk to a kid who mistook his girlfriend’s house number, they would rather do that a thousand times than have you suffer through an assault or worse. Don’t panic, but if there’s something wrong, don’t hesitate. Police are here to keep us safe. Just because you might feel silly afterwards is no reason to discount the very real fear you feel when someone is acting in a threatening manner around you or your home.
-if your car keys include a clicker, don’t lock or unlock your car from a distance. Do it right next to the car so no one has a chance to get in from the other side where you can’t see them.
-if you’re leaving work or school, someplace you’re expected to be for long periods of time, try to walk out with someone else. As you’re walking, keep your keys in hand and pay attention. Don’t dig in your purse, pockets, or backpack, don’t text as you’re walking. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. This not only helps you keep from being run over, it also helps you notice anything not as it should be. If your work or school is someplace sketchy, it wouldn’t hurt to keep your car key between two fingers, kind of like the brass knuckle from hell.
-on that note, consider the keyring bottles of mace or pepper spray. You can get them pretty easily, and yes, they make your keyring a little clunky, but it’s an extra sense of security for you, and it’s another chance to get away if you ever are cornered or threatened.
You should never have to feel unsafe in your daily life.
Until next time~