My husband got his first official death threat recently.
It seems that while the New York Times is a big fan of his highly successful “Most Wanted” feature, some of the folks who land in his articles are less enthusiastic. They are apparently unmoved by the Times recently calling him “the capital’s version of John Walsh” after his writing led to the feds’ arrest of 24 of the most wanted fugitives in the area.
One of his as-yet-uncaptured subjects penned him a letter a couple weeks ago. Suffice it to say the dude could work on his people skills. (Although in an odd twist, after specifying how he’d prefer to see my husband shuffle off his mortal coil, he closed it with something to the effect of a seemingly genuine, “So anyway, have a good day.” Which of course reminded me of the Ricky Bobby Talladega Nights line, “I said with all due respect” and that made me chuckle. Until I remembered that someone wanted to kill my husband and then I stopped.)
This whole bit of unpleasantness made very personal the sticky wicket that is privacy in the Internet age.
As an avid social media user I’ve got absolutely no online privacy. I gave up anonymity on my blog years ago, trading it for the increased traffic and reader engagement that comes when people feel like they actually know you and can scrutinize pictures of your living room to see if you have any taste. And I’ve linked to my husband’s reporting work before so it would take a marmot about .04 seconds to get his name. These days, I think it’s a given that anyone can figure out someone’s identity, quickly.
But I draw a bright line between having an online identity and having my actual residence identified. In light of the open letter recently penned to my husband by Stabby McVengeful, I’ve started the process of getting us scrubbed off of the major websites that list our names with our address. I know I’ll miss something though. So do me a favor: see how easy it is. This is the kind of project that is ripe for crowdsourcing. If you know his name or mine, are you able to come up with our address? Email me what you find.
If you don’t have my email it should take you about six seconds to find it online.