Living Healthy – Online!

Living Healthy in Today’s World is getting tougher and tougher.

Living healthy online is just as important as it is in the real world.

Many of us grew up long before computers were part of everyday life.  Our idea of high tech was that new color television that we only had the opportunity to watch at our grandmother’s house. And no one had more than one television in their home!

Why, that was just a silly thought.  Who would even imagine such a thing?

Thing have changed immensely.

Now, our young people can hardly carry on a conversation in person. They prefer to text each other rather than to talk face to face…even when they are sitting at the same table in a restaurant or cafeteria at school.

We so seldom get “real mail” that is not a bill or an advertisement that when it does arrive on our birthday, it is worthy of a huge “thank you” to the sender.  Probably appreciated as much as any other “real” gift.

The things that we used to take for granted about what and who and where was safe are being shattered left and right.  For example, let’s look at a few of the events in the news recently.

1.  Churches have been considered sacred and safe for centuries. During many wars, the churches were spared the ravages of war, because both sides of the war agreed that they were off limits.  This week, in the news, an absolutly awful event happened after the perpetrator had spent about an hour in Bible study inside a church with his eventual nine victims.  This event has shaken the very foundation of the idea of what is “safe” in our world any more.

2. The red cross has been the symbol of hospitals for many decades, if not centuries.  In wartime, the red cross on the top of a tent (or on the side of a vehicle) meant that there were wounded and health care providers there and that it was not a fair target. Of course, more than once, the enemy has decided to take advantage of that to demoralize the troops on the other side by attacking the weak and wounded at their most vulnerable.  After all, if there is no one available to patch you up and give you morphine, how willing will you be to take the risks inherent in an encounter with the enemy, right?

I am a Registered Nurse and have worked in health care for about four decades.  It was very sobering — after all that time — to have to read and sign that I had read it — a policy and procedure for what to do in case a gunman should happen into my work place.  While it had occurred to me that perhaps someone might come looking for the drugs I had access to while at work, I never really considered all the other dangers that lurked — just waiting for the moment to present themselves.

When I was in the US Army Nurse Corps, we did train to be ready to carry weapons if we were in a field hospital and needed to defend our patients.  However, it never occurred to me that the same situation might ever arise when not on the battle field.  Maybe I should start wearing a flak jacket to work, eh?

3.  Then comes the topic of today’s post, online safety. As we have become more and more used to “being connected” via the internet, the wireless/mobile phone network, instant messaging, face time, Skype, email, Facebook, Instagram, etc. we must become more diligent in keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and secure.

For starters, are you aware that for each photo that you post to Instagram, the date, time, and location that the photo was taken can be retrieved online by anyone who happens to know where to look?  (It really is not that hard!)  So when you take those pics of your adorable children and post them online for all the world to see, what information are you giving to the pediphile that lives just outside the legal distance from a school, nursey school, or childcare center and happens to live two doors down and across the back yard from you?  When you post the departure pics of your trip or your departure or arrival at your destination when you leave on a vacation or business trip, what info have you just supplied to that burglar that was planning his/her next hit?

What about that young pre/teen who spends so much time alone in his/her room talking to friends online?  How are those conversations going anyway?  Are these friendly conversations about school and making plans to go the mall after school?  Or is there harsh teasing that turns into harassment?  That eventually leads to depression, anger, and suicide/homocide?

Perhaps you think that I am being overly dramatic.  Or an alarmist. Or a “glass half empty” kind of person.

However, if you think back over the last several years, we have witnessed — if not in person, at least via the news media — the senseless killing of students and teachers in elementary and high school — by fellow or former classmates/students who had been harassed by other students and/or authority figures in their lives.  Schools were once considered a place to learn and to make lifelong friends.  Now they are simply a place to survive.  If you happen to learn something, all the better.  But getting out alive at the end of each day is considered success in more schools than we would care to admit.

When you are online — or teaching your children, parents, grandparents to navigate the internet, it is very important to relay the following tips to stay safe and healthy online:

1.  Never give information online that you would not give to a complete stranger in person.

2. Never say anything online that you would not want your mother/father/pastor/priest/favorite teacher to know you said.

3.  Always remember that there is a live person on the other side of that screen reading/hearing only your words.  They have no non-verbal communication to clue them in to the more subtle aspects of communication such as tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, and more. Be sure to read through your message before you send it looking for ways to “soften” the language. Feeling are a lot easier to hurt than they are to repair.

4.  Look out for each other online. Be aware of what others may be saying about your friends and defend them if they need someone to stand up for them. Support them when someone decides to “beat them up” online…or threatens to do so in the physical sense. Make the adults aware and call the police if necessary to keep everyone safe in the situation.

5.  While this next one is a common practice online, please protect yourself and DON’T do it!  Never pretend to be someone you are not.  If you are 13 years old, don’t pretend to be 21 so you can talk to the older guys/gals.  Such practices tend to lead down dangerous roads from which you may or may not return.

6.  Never agree to meet someone alone in real life that you met online…even if you have chatted with them for months.  If you buy something on a local yard sale site, take someone with you to complete the transaction and arrange to meet in a highly populated public place (restaurant, school, etc.) where there is security highly visible.

Staying safe is part of Living Healthy.  Safety online is part of Living Healthy, too!

Take what you have learned today and keep living healthy online!

Until next time,

Zona

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