Crimes Online

Some of you may already know this about me, but for those who don’t, I have a mildly embarrassing confession to make: I love watching creepy, real-life crime shows (like 48 Hours: Hard Evidence or Dateline). Mostly, I enjoy watching justice get served, but I’m also curious as to how and why certain legal decisions are made.

This past Saturday, I watched a particularly disturbing case that happened in Edmonton, of all places. Usually, you hear about these crimes in the States, making them seem surreal because of their distance, but this one bothered me for its close proximity.

It was a story about an Edmonton film-maker, apparently obsessed with the show Dexter, who lured victims to his garage via dating site and attempted to kill them based on scenes from the show. The whole case was twisted, and while it happened a few years ago (with the offender now in jail), the part about the online dating stuck in my mind.

After watching the episode, I thought to myself: it wasn’t that long ago that I experimented with online dating. And while I would never meet a complete stranger in a non-public place, I am not exempt from making the occasional poor decision.

I just think about how much the Internet has changed over the years, forcing myself and those of my generation to learn and adapt to a fast-paced online world. So far, I’ve been proficient at picking up and familiarizing myself with the latest online trends, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Internet, especially when you’re young or particularly vulnerable (even as an adult), can be a dangerous place.

Along with the crime show I tuned into on Saturday, I also watched a fantastic movie on Sunday called Trust. It dealt with the heavy topic of online pedophiles and demonstrated how the rape of a 14-year old girl, based on her meeting with an online pervert, could destroy her and her family.

It was pretty tough to watch, but once again, it forced me to think about online crime and the fact that it’s still very much an issue. For the kids of today, it’s cyber bullying. For the teenagers of tomorrow, it’s online dating and the potential for Internet predators. For anyone who’s into online shopping or sites such as Kijiji, it’s the possibility for a money scam.

I guess I just feel grateful that I’ve never encountered any problems of this sort. At times, I get scolded by those close to me for “posting my life” on Facebook or for revealing too much of myself on blogs such as these, but I don’t think I receive nearly enough credit for making smart choices when it comes to anything that’s online.

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Balancing Act

We only have 168 hours in a week. And out of that amount, 50 of those hours, if not more (for many of us) are spent at work.

That leaves approximately 128 hours left for our relationships, personal hobbies, volunteer activities and social commitments. It sounds like a lot, but what I’ve come to realize, especially over the Christmas break, is that it just isn’t enough time.

When I was single, I didn’t find time to ever be an issue. For one, I didn’t have to hold my actions accountable or answer to anyone but myself. And two, I only had one family and a few small groups of friends to contend with, leaving ample room for my own activities and hobbies.

But now that I’m married, I’ve acquired a wonderful new family, along with a completely different and awesome set of friends that I never had before. So of course, that makes planning out my life more complicated. And unfortunately, I feel like I’m doing a lousy job of keeping everything balanced.

At the end of my weeks, I always think, “Crap, I really should have phoned that friend,” or “We could have squeezed in an evening in with your parents or mine,” or “I probably could have used a few hours at the gym.”

There’s always something or someone who gets left behind. And believe me, I’ve certainly heard my fair share of complaints over these past few weeks that I’m not making the best effort to keep in touch or schedule regular visits.

So I ask all of you, how do you successfully keep your lives balanced? And this is especially directed at those of you with families and little ones of your own (frankly, I can’t even imagine).

This year, I have only one, but a deeply significant resolution: to organize my life in such a manner that I no longer feel guilty about any of my choices. Because, really, all of us are dealing with our own balancing act.

Balance