Every so often, I encounter stuff that defies explanation (in a really stupid way). At least, it does to me. When this happens, I have to set aside my fervent desire to smash the living crap outta my keyboard and vent my spleen in blog form. That time has come.
A while ago, someone suggested to me that a really cool/easy way to share photogs with friends and family online was to download a free (yay!) bit of software called Picasa. I’m sure most of you savvy internet types are familiar with it. Well, it’s a simple enough thing to use, but there are some loopholes. The first one I encountered was that if you don’t very carefully set your albums to “private” or “you can only see it if I say you can” (I paraphrase), your photogs can and will appear on a Google Image search. So, unless you really know what you’re doing with Picasa, I’d recommend staying away from posting naughty pictures of yourself. Unless that’s your thing, in which case, hey, whatever blows your skirt up.
The second downside to using Picasa is that every single time you click on it to open it, it ransacks your entire computer hunting down anything you might have hidden on there even remotely resembling a picture file. Then it rounds them all up, sorts them in a really pretty way, and sticks them in your Picasa thing, regardless of whether or not you wanted them there. There is no way to stop this from happening. If you then spend the rest of your day deleting all of the stuff you didn’t really want in there, Picasa will just round them all up again the next time you use it. I don’t know you if have ever found yourself screaming banshee-style at your monitor, but I have. It’s not a side of myself I enjoy even knowing I possess.
Where was I? Ah! The rant warm-up. The third little hiccup I encountered is that you can’t use Picasa unless you also have a gmail account. Oh good! That’s what I need – another email account! Sigh. I signed up for gmail which, incidentally, reads your private emails and sends you topic-related advertising, but that’s a rant for another day. As I am a very private online person (having learned my lesson the hard way), I tend toward using fake internet names to protect myself from weirdos. Is this necessary? Oh hell yeah! If you haven’t encountered any internet weirdos out there yet, you’re doing something wrong. Anyhoo, suffice it to say, I’m all about the fake names. Oh, don’t look at me like that – you’ve done it too.
As a wee aside here, I’m very anti-Facebook for the same reasons. I cherish my privacy and I don’t need the worldly minions up in my business. If I didn’t stay in touch with you since we sat next to each other in kindergarten, there’s a reason. Nuff said.
So, I made up my fake gmail account with my fake name, and Bob was my uncle (or husband, as the case may be). All was just duckity-doo until yesterday. I logged into my fake gmail account to see if I had any fake email and there it was: a “Your Ass is Busted!” email from the good folks at Google. GASP! The message was terse: ”Our Name Nazi has determined that your mother did not actually christen you ‘Wombat Warrior,’ therefore your account has been suspended. If you can prove that you really are this suspicious-sounding person by means of scanning either your driver’s license or passport (yeah… I’ll get right on that), we will reinstate your account.” The blurb went on to say that only my real name would be accepted, meaning, presumably that only real-sounding names will slide past the Name Nazi. The problem was that they’d offered me no way to change my fake gmail name to a slightly less fake-sounding one. When I went to my suspended profile to do so I found that it was…um…suspended. Ergo, no can do.
I spent the next good hour trying to find a way to contact Google people so I could write them some eloquently-worded abuse, but they’re a wily bunch, those Googers, let me tell you. They have designed their system to send you into a never-ending vortex of world-class bull-schitt if you even so much as think about contacting them! I was impressed! And not in a good way.
Here’s the thing: Let’s say I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t want to post my real name, address, phone number, bra size, yadda yadda on the internet. Let’s say that I consider it my right to make that choice for myself. And, to be fair, let’s say it’s also equally Google’s right to withhold their sub-amazing services from privacy-seeking souls such as my good self if they so desire and for whatever vacuous reasons they, in their infinite wisdom, deem appropriate. Do they have the right to shut down my account? Sure they do. Is it nice? Not really, no. Must I then comply with their Official (and really really stupid) Name Rules? Yes, if I want my account back, I must. Well…at least I must at least make them believe I have. So, in the end, I gave them a non-fake-sounding name. It’s just as fake as the other one, but it’ll allow me to have my account back.
I ask you this: If you were a Google employee and you encountered someone who you believed was using an artificial moniker, and, let’s further qualify that by assuming that you have a functioning brain, wouldn’t you imagine that if someone had opted to go the fake name route, they perhaps had a reason for so doing? And, further, if you supposed that there was a reason for using said fake name, wouldn’t it then make sense to you that asking them to provide a real name or face losing their account, would cause them to appear to comply by changing their obviously fake name to a slightly less overt one? Am I the only one who thinks this way??
Allow me to further illustrate: I started this blog to use as a record of our travels. It began with the acquisition of our new trailer and my intent was to chronicle our trailery adventures. If wordpress required me to use my real name or any other personal/private information in order to have this blog, just exactly how much of a moron would I be to be telling the world “we’re not home right now, but here’s the address, the key’s under the mat. Help yourself, but please don’t leave a mess?”
Is there something wrong with privacy? Has it gone the way of the dinosaur? Honey, you’ll have to pry mine outta my cold, dead hand. Just sayin’…