As we ramp up to prime holiday season, preserving our happiness becomes more difficult! The internet is both a great resource as well as potentially, a great “stealer” of happiness if we aren’t careful. I consider myself pretty seasoned on the ins and outs of the internet, as time evolves though I’m constantly amazed at the number of ways our online life can steal happiness. These are a few of the things I can think to watch for that can rob us of happiness via the internet, perhaps one of these will help you!
- Facebook: Social media has certainly evolved and it’s a great way to stay in touch with Family and obtain a broader perspective of people all over the world! Such a broad wealth of people brings with it some things we should keep in mind!
- Our Facebook friends: If you haven’t figured it out already, people that you don’t know or don’t know well on your friends list, is a double-edged sword. I have had some absolutely amazing eye-opening experiences and interaction with people all over the world, truly an amazing tool for that! I’ve also seen probably every scam known to man because of my desire to know lives and lifestyles far beyond my own. I’m very quick to accept all friend requests, I’m also very quick to unfriend when “friends” become apparent scams. Things that are immediate indications that a new “friend” is a scam include incessant rapid fire questions, asking your name when it is clearly on your profile, asking your occupation (reply very generally if at all, for instance my reply is always office worker), asking about relationship and lifestyle status (it’s not a dating website), asking about your family (nobody needs this to be your friend), asking pets names (often your password clue), Asking your birth-date (just no). Obviously take it with the context of the conversation but these are huge red flags! Unfortunately, I’ve never talked to anybody that was “on a peace keeping mission in Iraq” that wasn’t a scam, to me this one is the lowest! I’ve never talked to anybody who professed their undying love for me without ever meeting me that didn’t turn out to be some form of scam! An excellent article By ALICIA DOYLE on 10 Current Facebook Scams and How to Avoid Them appeared November 14, 2018 on Highya.com
Of course, if you’re not so brave, you can always just stick to people you know well and play it safe but be careful of scammers duplicating profiles of people you know! We always trust our known friends and scammers know this, so be wary of any conversations that don’t seem right , are suddenly in a strange dialect, or out of context! If in doubt, use another form of communication, phone, text, whatever and verify! Don’t send money to anybody via Facebook messenger request, call your friend, if it’s somebody you know well and set up arrangements offline, never and I mean never send money to somebody you have never met, no, just no! One final note on Facebook friends, just because somebody asks you a question, doesn’t mean you need to supply an answer! Obviously being duped via a Facebook scam will not bring you Happiness!
- Browsing Facebook, comparing your holiday to others (Facebook envy): In general, comparing ourselves to others in an envious way will not bring us happiness, but there is something just a little more personal, a little more agitating when we compare ourselves to others on Facebook! Keep things in perspective! Realize that what you see is just a moment in time with no context! Avoid Facebook envy it’s a one way ticket to unhappiness !
2. Online shopping: I love online shopping, but it can be a source of unhappiness! Things to watch for include sales with out of stock items that prompt you to go for that comparable but more expensive item (bait and switch), do this and your holiday budget can really get out of hand quickly (more on this later)!
A relatively recent development with online shopping is that scammers will set up websites with names that sound like your favorite stores.,but are in fact not a store at all ! We all get in a hurry and typos happen, make sure you’re really at Walmart.com if that’s where you want to be, not “walls_mart.com” (not a real website), an example of something that a scammer might set up to steal your credit card information ! A June 2017 article on MSNBC has some more information on that for you The American Greed Report: Online shopping scams: Eight signs you’re on a fake site Colleen McKown | @ColleenMcKown
Another thing to be mindful of when shopping online is to carefully read descriptions, it’s not uncommon especially on Amazon to show a picture of an item but really what is being sold is just a small part of what is shown , an example would be a solar powered security camera I purchased (super nerdy neat!) , the picture showed the camera plugged up to the solar panel but in fact the solar panel was sold separately ! Buying something online and not getting what you were expecting will be a big ole bummer!
Finances: Be honest with yourself, what is your total online shopping budget this year, pick a number that is friendly to your well-being, stick to this budget! Credit card bills are not a source of happiness! Perhaps if it’s all adults gifts of your time, your effort or something without a price tag is more in order? Depending on your family dynamic this might be the source for a lot less stress and a more meaningful, happy holiday. Unless you belong to a scrooge filled family and friends nobody is going to expect something they know you can’t afford, all that pressure you’re feeling is more than likely self-inflicted, this will not bring you happiness!
3. Online “Christmas cards”: Received an online Christmas card? Awesome! Don’t know the person that sent it to you? You might want to forgo clicking on that link that takes you to that “card” because likely as not it’s a link to a virus, some form of malicious software or ransomware, no E-card is worth that and who sends cards to random people they don’t know anyway? A 99% chance of an unhappy outcome!
4. Online hotel reservations: I learned this one the hard way, in my case it worked out but for a lot of folks it did not! Hotel rooms booked through even their own websites sometimes incorporate a third party booking service, between this and room finding websites the potential for a booked room not being available (hotel overbook) during high demand times is a lot more common than most people know! In my particular case I booked a room online and because I was a rewards member with that hotel chain my room was absolutely guaranteed ! Total fluke ! The dozens of folks that booked online that were not rewards members were turned away (this was after hurricane Harvey, everything was full). Go ahead and make your holiday room reservations as soon as you know you will be traveling, obviously the holidays are high demand times for hotels. What you may not know, is that hotels factor in a percentage of no shows and often overbook rooms, generally but not always they get the math right ,but sometimes, not so much! A few days before you are scheduled to arrive call the hotel and tell them you are excited to be staying with them, confirm your reservation! This does 2 things, first it gives you peace of mind that your booking was successful, secondly it almost conclusively insures you will have a room when you arrive, they are literally expecting you! Having a place to stay will definitely make you happy 😊
Generally, be extra careful on the internet this holiday season, and if you want to skip the whole internet experience altogether this year then so be it. I think we often feel obligated to do things and be connected in ways that really aren’t conducive to happiness.
Find your happiness, share your happiness, it’s one of the best gifts you can give!