Folks, it’s the internet, the interweb, the wide world web… a simple, invasive “web” that allows our privacy to seep through it’s transparent and weak screen. Think about the very simple word, “web,” and now picture a spider web in your mind. The sheer screen-like wall has holes. It is usually fragile. If a rock is tossed at a web, the web would likely break. If water is sprayed at a web, the web would likely break, or the water would simply seep through the web. The point here is that an actual web holds no durability and no real security, unless of course you are a spider intending to catch insects. Well, maybe it’s time to visualize our private information as rocks being launched at a web, countless rocks, and every single one of them busting through the web to be shared with the rocks on the other side. Almost immediately, our personal rocks join millions of other rocks and become indistinguishable and exposed for anybody to pick up and keep as their own.

It’s that simple.  Our information is not protected. Our information that we share on the internet is completely exposed. When others retrieve our information, it can be used to damage us and, sometimes, even destroy us.  So, why aren’t we more careful? The likely answer to that question is convenience and, possibly, entertainment. The internet is incredibly convenient and useful. In fact, most of us feel that we need the internet to function in our daily lives.  As I began writing this blog, I thought about one of my best friends. He is 79 years old, and he often voices his disapproval that our phones are in our hands or that we are glued to an electronic device for the majority of our day. He has refused to adapt to the internet and, usually, has grumpy comments about the dependence we have on our devices. However, I have observed my grumpy old friend asking the person sitting nearest to him to look up the answer to a question, a recipe, a map, etc. So, while he has tried to stand firm in his refusal to adopt the internet, he has relied on the fact that the internet is simply at arm’s length and he, too, finds it convenient and entertaining. We all do.

Circling back to the risk of damage or complete destruction to our character, most of us are guilty for using the internet and, especially, social media carelessly. As a family law attorney, a person’s cell phone or social media account can be the smoking gun evidence at trial or even a serious motivator to settling a case. I’ve been on both sides of the case where a client’s online presence has helped our case and also where it has destroyed our case. The more serious nature of a person’s online presence or text conversation is when children are exposed.  I am frequently shocked at the content that parents post on social media for the whole world to view, including their children. Even more shocking are those parents who respond with, “I didn’t realize my kids would see what I posted.” Seriously?  Folks, it is time to understand and accept that, while the internet is convenient and entertaining, it is damaging and destructive. The “I didn’t realize…” response will only score points for the other side. Be smart about your online presence. Be smart about the messages that are being transmitted electronically. Be smart about the viewers and with whom you share this information. It is time that parents do realize that their kids or the kids’ friends, or their kids’ friends’ families can view your behaviors. More importantly, if you are engaged in a family law dispute, you might want to consider that damaging evidence will be blown up to poster size and displayed on an easel for an entire courtroom to view. Take precaution and be mature when the whole world is watching you, because one’s bad act or mistake is all too convenient and entertaining to the other side in family law litigation.