Surveillance Surprise: Proof #76,857 that Someone is Watching

Like a lot of folks, I took some time off for Christmas and didn’t write much for a couple of days. So I completely forgot to write about the Big Brother moment we had Christmas day.

We had a little surveillance surprise, showing once again that our social media audience isn’t always what we think it is.

You think you aren’t being watched? Think again.

Christmas Presents and a Surveillance Surprise

Bright and early Christmas morning, Jon handed me a present. He was extremely proud of himself.

He should have been. It was a …Honeywell RTH6580WF Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Thermostat

There are at least 4 things of note about Jon giving me a programmable thermostat for Christmas:

  • We’re trying to work on our power consumption and converting to the R-TOU (Time of Use) program means trying to heat and cool the house during cheaper off-peak times. We really need the new thermostat as part of that program.
  • He got it on special: $30 off!
  • He paid for it completely with gift cards, so he paid nothing out of pocket.
  • The first year we were together, that practical guy I married gave me a programmable thermostat for Valentine’s Day. It saved us a bunch of money in my old house. That was how he argued that it really WAS a romantic present, since it freed up the cash to go out to eat and do other romantic stuff.

So, the programmable thermostat was a thoughtful and needed present, but also one that also made me laugh.

I took a picture of the thermostat, and as you can see, it turned out to be a neat picture, reflecting the lights from the Christmas tree. So, I sent out a Tweet:

It's a new thermostat! Thanks, Santa!

It was a nice holiday picture with a short message. If you’re a Personal Finance blogger, it’s not that unusual to celebrate a programmable thermostat under the Christmas tree. Yay, Frugality!

And that would have been the end of it, except that 5 hours later, we got a reply:

Honeywell answer

“But Can the People on TV See Me or am I Just Paranoid?”

Ok, look again at my tweet. The thermostat is a Honeywell, and I think they are a fine maker of thermostats. This is our third Honeywell thermostat. But I wasn’t actually trying to promote Honeywell.

Did I mention Honeywell? Nope. No #Honeywell hashtag or shoutout to @Honeywell_Home included.

Honeywell is clearly written on the box, though, and in 5 hours someone at the company had noticed my picture and tweet, despite the fact that I had a modest Twitter following of 181 and it was Christmas day.

Someone replied.

Someone was watching.

Ok, it was probably some photo recognition software watching, but that didn’t make it any less surprising when it came up in my Twitter feed.

Now, I don’t think Honeywell’s tweet in and of itself is really a problem. Again, I’m happy enough to own and talk about their product, which I think is a fine one. (this is not an affiliate post, but I’m open to discussing offers.)

Honeywell’s reply was a surprise. I got a surveillance surprise for Christmas, and it reminded me that sharing may be caring, but it’s also broadcasting to the world.

Jon, Emily, and Social Media

Jon doesn’t do social media. Oh, he’ll write for the blog, and read my Facebook feed if I hand him my phone or tablet. He’ll reply to comments here. But you won’t find my Jon Jividen on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In. (You will find a chef with the same exact name, though.)  My Jon doesn’t want to overshare, so I can’t even convince him to set up a Facebook account and just never post and read stuff in his news feed.

I like social media. You will find me active on Facebook, Twitter, and (to a lesser degree) Linked In and Google Plus. I use Pinterest, Bloglovin and Flipboard. I like connecting with cousins and high school friends I don’t see anymore and learning more about the lives of people I know from only one context like school or church. I also like connecting to the personal finance blogger community, and promoting my work and good articles I find elsewhere.

Rare is a day with no tweets and no Facebook posts.

Jon wants me to be careful with the information I share on the blog. You won’t see any income reports on our blog, and to respect his feelings sometimes I will be more vague or general than I would otherwise be in discussing our personal lives and finances. I try not to mention our daughter by name, and I will probably never use any of the many online financial tools you see some personal finance bloggers use.

Jon just isn’t comfortable having financial information online accessible. Even our personal balance sheets are stored on a flash drive instead of our computer’s hard drive. If it’s not connected to the internet, it’s a lot harder to hack.

Jon wants me to be careful with what I share on Facebook too. For a long time, the only picture of our daughter on Facebook was one of just her legs sticking out of a cardboard box.

Sometimes, I think he’s a little overly cautious. After all, we’re nobodies. Who cares what we do or say? What does it matter if I put a particularly cute picture of Little Bit jumping into a mud puddle on Facebook, visible only to friends.

And then we get a little surveillance surprise like at Christmas. And I realize that our audience for social media is the world, even if you are only sharing with friends, because what’s to keep them from sharing your photo or status? And, as a blogger who wants people to share the content I work so hard to create, I have some competing priorities about sharing and protecting my information.

I want to share what I want to share, and protect everything else. That’s a lot harder in practice, because, as my little Honeywell tweet proves, sometimes you are sharing more than you think you are sharing.

So have you ever had a surveillance surprise where what you realized your audience was much larger than you first thought or that you were sharing more information than intended? How do you balance sharing and protecting your information? 

Top Image courtesy of Pong at

This article includes affiliate links.

Disease Called Debt


16 Responses to “Surveillance Surprise: Proof #76,857 that Someone is Watching”
    • Emily Jividen 01/15/2016
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    • Emily Jividen 01/15/2016
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    • Emily Jividen 01/16/2016
    • Emily Jividen 01/16/2016
  1. Hannah 01/17/2016
    • Emily Jividen 01/18/2016
  2. Sharon 01/17/2016
    • Emily Jividen 01/18/2016

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