Err on the side of discretion

NewGraceyPicw1Click on the top title to open Darlings the world of social media is fraught with opportunity for fraught with opportunity for gossip. Refrain. It is one thing to tell your own secrets, but entirely another to tell someone else’s. And be careful with your own too. Think before your post.  A decade or so ago a friend told me another friend was seriously ill with a potentially fatal disease. I told no one but my husband and cautioned him to do the same.  When the news became public about our friend’s illness another mutual friend took me to task for not telling her I explained to my inquisitive friend that it was not my news to tell. At the funeral, the widow thanked me for my discretion. 

Lately, I hear about brides who are distraught that friends have posted pictures of their wedding. Some bridesmaids have even posted photos of the bride’s gown before the wedding.

Other couples are upset when family member post pictures of their newborns online. All of these acts seem like clear violations to privacy to me but obviously the lines are not clear for everyone. I think when posting a photo or information online that involves someone else’s private life, it is always best to err on the side of discretion. 

Make time for the things you enjoy and the people you love because, my darlings, that is truly where the sweet life lies. 

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What would Audrey do?

The author Sam Wasson has written a wonderful new book, a commentary on social mores of the 1960s that resonate to this day.

In Fifth Avenue 5 A.M., Wasson links the iconic 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Hollywood’s depiction of the evolution of the modern urban woman.
Fifth Avenue is full of little-known and amusing anecdotes about its star, Audrey Hepburn, other cast members, its writer and director, and even songwriters Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. It is veritable treasure trove for a diehard movie fan. But it may be hard for fans of the film today to grasp just how controversial it was for its time.
The film was based on Truman Capote’s brilliant, but much grittier, tale of New York call girl Holly Golightly. Truman said she was inspired by several of his favourite ladies. It is widely known that he wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Audrey Hepburn, to play Holly.
Wasson tells how Hollywood’s princess Audrey – for she had won the Oscar for Roman Holiday as Princess Ann – was cast to elevate Holly Golightly from “call girl” to “party girl”.
New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote about the book: “Back in the early ’60s, Holly was the woman we wanted to be. The slender and stylish New York beauty was supported by men, yet she seemed free.”
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was cool because of its modern glamour, ushering in a sexy future. ‘Mad Men’ is cool because of its retro glamour, recalling a sexy past.”
Fans of the film and fashionistas will be intrigued to learn the story behind Holly’s gorgeous costumes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about how she met her lifelong friend Hubert de Givenchy.
What struck me is how hard Hollywood strove to make the film acceptable, to whitewash Holly and what she did for a living. They even had to give the film a happy ending in which she finds her cat and settles down with her lover.
I love a happy ending. I adore Breakfast at Tiffany’s; it is one of my favourite films. I love the look of it. But I wouldn’t want to live it – not for a minute. 
Many people see Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a lovely, romantic, but dated period piece. But many women remain fascinated by Holly and her style. She is lovely to look and captivatingly charming. Still, I’m not sure women have advanced that much in the area of love. When it comes to work we have made tremendous progress, but when it comes to finding love and romance, women may be worse off.
Too many women have given up their power and lowered their standards when it comes to men. They tolerate men who don’t pick them up for dates, don’t treat them like ladies, and just string them along. And darlings, I don’t just mean young women. Women old enough to know better put up with this nonsense too. In some cases they have neglected their personal lives for their careers, and now are desperate for marriage or motherhood. In other cases, they just accept bad behavior from men “because that’s how it is now”. They are treated as poorly as Holly by her dates, men who tear her dresses and give her $50 for trips to the powder room. 
I keep hearing about women waiting for texts from men who run hot and cold. Women complain about late night booty-calls on Facebook and Myspace, but they go along with it. Then there are the women who go out to dinner together and keep their phones on, trawling for texts and IM (instant messages) – from men.
What would Audrey do?I don’t understand why women put up with it. Men like to text because it keeps women at a distance. They use it to avoid communication. So why to do women agree to play this loser’s game? The same goes for Facebook and the rest of them. If you refuse to text and restrict your Facebook, you can avoid a lot of craziness from the start. Then men have a simple choice: they can call you or not. They can take you out or not. Believe me darlings; if a man is attracted to you, he will pursue you. It is that simple.
The same goes for sex. Women feel pressure to have sex to keep a man interested. Trust me darlings, having sex too soon is the easiest way to lose him. A woman never trapped a man by giving in. Men like to do the chasing – at least most of them do.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was so successful because Audrey elevated Holly. Would we have loved Holly so much if she was a hard-bitten, blowsy hooker? I don’t think so. No darlings, Audrey made her a princess and that is what everyone – men and women – wanted. Holly/Audrey was kind, funny, refined and anything but easy to get. Everyone woman needs a little princess in her to be truly confident and attractive
If you’re in a slump or depressed about your relationships, why not raise your standards? Enhance your allure by becoming a bit more aloof. Channel your inner Audrey. When things get tricky, ask yourself what would Audrey do?

“Facebook is where you can find everyone you didn’t sleep with…

Mercy's star Taylor Schilling

I decided to investigate after hearing a provocative teaser from NBC’s new show Mercy. One of the lead characters says “Facebook is where you can find everyone you didn’t get to sleep with in high school and college.”
The writers of that show have a whole different perspective on Facebook than the one I’m privy to, but I could see where they were coming from. Tales of unrequited or long-lost first love is nothing new. My own sister reunited with her high school boyfriend. They have two children now. She never moved far from our home town, nor did he. What Facebook does is make every place accessible. And there is the potential for havoc for those hitting a rough patch in their current relationships. Also there are those who never get over their first loves, and others who hold an overly romantic view of the past.
According to a recent article in the, Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online said: "I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was. I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook.” According to some experts, the stats say women who cheat and are caught usually are divorced by angry husbands. Men who cheat are often forgiven and suffer much less from their Internet dalliance.
And it isn’t just married couples who are affected by Facebook’s potential for relationship havoc. Social psychologists from theUniversity of Guelph in Canada questioned a group of college students about the effect of Facebook on their romantic relationships. Their preliminary findings, described in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior, suggest that Facebook use may be fueling jealousy and other unhealthy behavior.

Take away the extremely public nature of Facebook and its ability to broadcast one’s indiscretions and the only question remaining is — is any of this new? I don’t think so.
Darlings, over the years I have known crazy jealous people; men and women. They were born insecure and jealous and they will die that way. Nothing seems to squelch their suspicions. They see plots and poachers everywhere. Don’t linger near their spouse; even if you are eight months pregnant, they’ll suspect you of flirting. It’s craziness of a special kind, I suspect those who stay married to them enjoy the sick attention. I give these people a wide berth.
Facebook is tailor-made for players. They can keep several women on a string, without even leaving home. These guys love the game. They enjoy feeding the fires of jealousy. Anyone who loves a cheater is bound to be miserable or crazy or both. 
Granted, the potential for crazy-making on Facebook is boundless with all the updates and commentary from friends. But is it any different than the endless chatter of high school or college dorms, if you are vulnerable to that sort of insanity? Just as with the 24-hour news cycle of today, or the endless stream of cheap celebrity gossip — you can switch it off at will. 
After over 25 years of marriage, I can offer a few suggestions on how to survive Facebook and a few other relationship challenges. Accept that a cheater is a cheater and will never change. If you love one, get over it, or accept being miserable. It sounds harsh, but in the long run you will save your self a world of pain.
Foolish behavior can lead to foolish choices by otherwise sensible people. That’s why smart, well-intentioned people avoid sticky-icky situations. Any situation fueled by too much alcohol will probably result in trouble, so avoid them.
Flirting is natural and fun, but if it happens too often or gets too edgy, stop it if your not free to follow-up on it. 
Anyone who guards their email and cell phone is a bad relationship bet; normal people do not have secrets. If something feels wrong, it probably is. If you feel like you‘re dating a stalker, you have a problem. Get away from them and get help. If you feel like someone is cheating, and you are not a jealous maniac, you may be right.  
None of this advice is new. Too few people trust their instincts when it comes to starting new relationships or maintaining old ones.   I don’t think Facebook is the culprit when things go baldy between two people. 
Some experts say Facebook is addictive and causes rage, as family members feel tuned out. Perhaps, but is it any different than being ignored by a workaholic, alcoholic or anyone who chooses to ignore you for substance abuse? I don’t get it, we are all allowed hobbies, but I have never understood how computer addiction could compete with real live humans.
Elena " a popular girl" showed up on TV-land's Class Reunion"to  find a man", Facebook could  have saved her time and travel. Facebook may help you find everyone you didn’t get to sleep with in high school and college, if that’s your thing. It also makes reconnecting with old friends a snap. For those of us who have moved many times this is a boon. It’s also fabulous tool for keeping up with new friends instantly in a new city. And if you are single and looking, who is to say the devil you know is not better and safer than the one you might you find on an online dating site? Why not date an old friend from the past?
No darlings, Facebook doesn’t ruin relationships, bad choices do. Please send you r coments to



Public you, and private you

Darlings, it’s a conundrum: How much of the “private you” should you share to promote the “public you”. For some it seems so much simper to live on Facebook wall and play their lives out there, but they too are finding there is a high price for that kind of openness. Resisters, meantime, are finding out there is cost to not having an “online presence”. For now the question will remain, as it does in seduction, how to maintain some mystery. How to know when enough is enough.

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Gracey Hitchcock
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A top cyber security expert tells you how to be safe on social networks

David GewirtzEvents of the last few weeks have shown the world how important social media can be. Most of the news about events in Iran have come from Facebook pages and Twitter. Some are even calling the events in Iran a social media revolution. We can only imagine how vital these links are to those in that besieged country at this time.

But there’s a dark side to social networking too. As Facebook and Twitter become more poular there are those who would use them to scam, rob, and do worse. There have been reports of criminals using Twitter and Facebook to track peoples’s movements to rob, stalk, and assault them. Even now cyber criminals are at work on ways to exploit social networking.
Social networks are a fun and exciting way to reach out to friends and family, but they are also a potential dangerous place. Learn to protect yourself. Don’t miss a word of this interview with David Gewirtz.  
David Gewirtz is the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals and a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security. He is a member of the FBI’s InfraGard program, the security partnership between the FBI and industry.
He is also author of the book, Where Have All The Emails Gone? How Something as Seemingly Benign as White House Email Can Have Freaky National Security Consequences, which explores the controversy from a technical perspective.
DD: What are the dangers of social networking on Facebook and how can you protect yourself?
DG: I’ve broken it out into four categories: employment, reputation, malware, and physical risk.

On the employment side, saying the wrong thing online can lead to career suicide, especially since employers and prospective employers are likely to see what you say. There’s also liability issues if you say something about an employer, someone who might be in litigation with your company could use your statements against them.

On the reputation side, something you say now could haunt you for years into the future. People have been known to post the most inappropriate things, which then stick with them for years. Imagine dating someone and having them do a Google search and the first thing they find is the day you got dumped, and so you posted about how much you hate the opposite sex. Or something you did that was borderline illegal. If you want a big job, sometime in the future, these posts could keep you out of the game.

Malware, phishing and identity scams can cause you serious financial loss. Posting personally-identifiable information helps criminals build a profile about you, and enough awareness about your friends, interests, habits that they can pose as someone you know and con you out of way too much money.

In the case of physical security and stalking, social networks give stalkers and other scary people an almost minute-by-minute update on your habits and haunts. Even thinking about that is scary.

There are two rules to protecting yourself: think before you post and don’t post personally-identifiable information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and especially birthdates.

DD: In a recent article you mentioned new scams that involved online banking. Can you describe how these scams work and what should we watch out for?
DG: Oh, they are legion, changing constantly, and highly creative. One of the most common is called phishing, where a criminal organization tries to fool you into thinking your on your bank’s Web site when, in fact, you’re on a clone that looks identical, typing everything they need to suck you dry. There’s a form of phishing calls spear phishing, where criminals target specific individuals by gathering lots of detailed information and using that in the scam.

What to watch out for: don’t give out personally-identifiable information and don’t go to your bank’s web site from an email or Facebook posting.

DD: Recently, I received emails claiming to be from one of my email providers claiming they were going to delete all of my email if "I did not take action” and they needed my user name and password.  I’m a little paranoid, so I deleted it and checked that my Norton was on. Is this a new type of scam?
DW: Yes, it’s a scam. Even if it weren’t, which would be worse? Losing all your email or letting some criminal have access to your email identity and then do things like retrieve passwords to your banking system? But it’s a scam. No legitimate provider will ever, ever, ever ask you for your user name and password. Ever.

DD:  How can malware enter your computer if you use good security software such as Norton or similar, and keep it updated. Are you still vulnerable to attack?
DG: Yes it can, and that’s something very scary. Much of the security source code for our anti-virus and anti-malware products has been provided to nation states suh as China as a condition of being allowed to sell into their country. Of course, those countries are often the ones that do the online scamming and penetration, so it’s kind of like hanging your house key on a ribbon on your front door.

The best answer is to keep updating virus definitions and keep paying attention to the security space as more and more information is known. This is an arms race and as the good guys develop protections, the bad guys develop penetrations and on and on and on. I know it’s scary. I wish it weren’t.

DD:  There are obviously some vitally important news applications to Twitter, but it seems very unwise to broadcast one’s movements on an open network. Have there been security problems resulting from these practices? And are there precautions that people should take when using Twitter to avoid being victimized?
DW: Yes. I strongly recommend being somewhat circumspect with your movements. If you want to tell people you’re going to a restaurant, it’s perfectly fine to tweet "I’m going to a restaurant". But don’t specify which one. But, really, there’s no good reason to be that public about your movements. Remember, Twitter and Facebook aren’t relations just between you and your friends. Everyone can see what you say.

DD: I make it a practice to post events only after they have they happened on Facebook. I also follow this practice in my column.  I am not worried about my friends’ behavior, but I have no way of controlling who they allow to see their pages. Am I being paranoid?
DW: As much as we’d like to say there’s no risk, imagine if you’ve got a jilted boyfriend or someone who’s been stalking you. Back before I was married, I dated my share of wackos and had one or two scary stalking situations. Now, I’m a big guy and can handle just about anything, but if you’re not able to protect yourself, letting someone who’s out to do you harm know exactly where you are is dangerous.

Even letting people know where you’ve been can be an issue if a habit profile can be derived. Better safe than sorry. Besides, how many people really need to know what you had for lunch today? Really?

What aspects of social networking seem the most benign, but are actually the most dangerous?
DW: I think the term "friend" in Facebook is a real problem because somewhere, deep down in our animal brain, once we hear "friend", we think the people on the list are people to trust. I would far prefer Facebook use the term "contact" or "connection" or even "people I know". Also, now that people "friend" me, I have to think about who of these people I want to have it known are my friends.

I wrote in FrontLine Security that I don’t use Facebook all that much, but generally have allowed fans to "friend" me because it just seemed polite to honor their enthusiasm for my work. But when I looked at one fan who asked to friend me who happened to be from Europe, I noticed his Facebook page said he was a member of the Communist party. Now, I work with homeland security, law enforcement, and am part of a special FBI program and the last thing I wanted was a so-called friend who was a Communist.

I had another instance of a fan who I’d allowed to friend me who suddenly sent me an invite to attend his birthday party, where (and this was obviously a joke) "turning 27 means party hats, heroin, and dead hookers". Even in jest, I can’t have someone who says stuff like that as a friend or even a "friend".

In both cases, I didn’t know these people.

There are a bunch of other risk areas, but I really think the questions asked like "What’s on your mind?" and "What are you doing?" can be the most risky. Speaking personally, it’s never, ever a good idea for me to share what’s actually on my mind! Although, sadly, if you really were able to look inside my head, you’d probably see a mix of images of my wife, big, juicy steaks, chocolate, and the latest Playstation games.

DD: Finally, how can we interact, do business, keep in touch –and be safe? Is it too much to ask?
DW: It’s really pretty simple. Be smart. If you wouldn’t run naked through your local town hall or library with your whoo-hah showing, you probably shouldn’t do the verbal equivalent online. Be a little paranoid. If you wouldn’t give your car keys to every stranger you encounter, don’t give your passwords out to every email you get. If you wouldn’t bring someone’s can full of rotting garbage into your home just because they asked, so don’t open attachments or run programs just because someone asks you.

As Ronald Reagan once said, "trust, but verify". Interpreting what he meant for today’s world: keep an open mind, but don’t let an open mind also be an open wallet or open computer.

For more information abut David Gewirtz or security related issues

TMI! Too Much Information!

Terry Milk Facebooks with the bestDarlings, I am no fan of the current cult of “too much information”. I have cringed a lot over the past decade. I have squirmed inwardly as women at cocktail parties — or worse, at the water cooler — have described their partners’ shortcomings as providers and lovers. I have sat in amazement as women I hardly know disseminated the most intimate details of their lives to me or anyone else who cared to listen.
Why am I surprised? From Oprah’s informative forums to Jerry Springer’s emotional Circus Maximus, it has become de rigueur to bare it all. Many faded careers have been revived through tawdry tell-all confessions. F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. Not only do American lives have second acts; the closer they are to a Jackie Collins novel, the better the public likes it.
Chatting with a trusted personal friend may be the only tried and true way to keep your sanity when hitting a rough patch personally or professionally. But spilling your personal business to all and sundry isn’t only ill-advised, it is plain tacky. In any relationship a lady owes her partner and friends loyalty and discretion. Losing your temper and being aggravated doesn’t rid you of that obligation, nor is it smart. It’s funny.
Our culture of too much information is pervasive and it is getting worse. Many people today loathe the telephone; they prefer email and texting. Facebook and Twitter are increasingly popular.
I use Facebook, but I am cautious about Twitter. Does anyone really need to know that much about my day and thoughts — or anyone else’s? I have been reading tweets from all types of people. I find most of it is drivel. Much of the content on the Facebook pages of many celebrities is just a desperate attempt not to slip out of the public consciousness for one minute, lest they lose their precious and lucrative celebrity. But is it interesting? Not a lot is, even from otherwise interesting people.
I like Facebook. It is a wonderful tool to communicate with friends you can’t see every day. It is fabulous for finding for old friends you may have lost touch with over the years, or been too busy to keep up with daily or weekly. It’s also a wonderful way to take part in discussions and share information with diverse groups and people.
I am fascinated by a journalist friend who has a vivacious ongoing conversation with many diverse friends on her Facebook page. She is always posting interesting articles, photos, and other media. She understands the potential of Facebook and how to use it. I think she personifies in the nicest way the expression “food for thought.”
I also adore the way some younger friends use Facebook to express and share their frustrations and make their social plans. For them, it is a shared social diary and a legal graffiti wall. Divine.
Many of my contemporaries are remarkably adept at Facebook. Perhaps it’s not surprising, as most of us are in communication or musicians and artists. Just try to shut us up. 
What I find interesting is that no one I know has been inappropriate on Facebook. Even the youngest and most uninhibited of my Facebook friends have not done anything I would be concerned about an employer seeing. Granted, when a few of my younger friends were in college there may have been a few more risqué photos posted on their pages, but nothing too X-rated. They quickly learned to edit themselves. But there have been no public breakups, drunken photos, or smutty language. Trust me this is not a dull unattractive bunch of young folks. They are darned good-looking and savvy – with a full quota of personal and professional drama. But they also have manners, judgment, and personal dignity.
It will be interesting to see where Facebook and Twitter lead. A media-savvy friend recently posted an article that exposed marketing scams on Twitter. It seems that people are paid to send positive tweets to push certain products. The same thing used to happen with blogs. Readers were fast to catch on to fake bloggers. It seems phony tweets are easy to spot, too. Facebook is a huge marketing tool.
As I stated, I find much of the content on commercial pages or celebrity pages dross. I think it’s as clear as glass when someone is writing just to stay visible or build their public profile. In the same way, it is just as apparent who are the "friend collectors" on Facebook. You know people who want as many friends as possible; they friend anyone and everyone. It is a simple thing to remove a friend, as I did with a developer who flooded my page with junk designed to build her marketing vehicle.
One thing Facebook does well is sort out those with something to say from those who have little to say. Some time ago, I had lunch with Bethenny Frankel of the New York Housewives, she told me she was quite proud her blog on Bravo because she wrote it herself. She said that she had been told by the Bravo producers that it was popular because it sounds just like her; it other words it is authentic. I like her blog because she always has something smart to say.
Broadcasting or sharing (and I find that a squirmy word) too much information is unfair, unwise, and undignified. A lady always has a touch mystery about her. If that sounds too old-fashioned for this sexting, texting, tweeting age, then try this street smart 70’s maximum: “Be discreet, keep you business out of the street.” I promise you my darlings, you will never regret what you don’t say.