I’ve just got back from a week away. But I didn’t post any pics on Facebook or Twitter while I was away. I didn’t mention it anywhere on my blog.
Of course I wanted to. Surely the whole point of holiday snaps on social media is to say “look at me having a lovely time while you’re still at work!”, all posted while cackling a Bond villain laugh.
And professionally, I wanted to let you lot know why I might not respond as quickly as I could to comments or emails. I scheduled all my new articles in advance and even had the newsletter and social media posts prepared in advance so it would seem like (relatively) normal service.
So why did I go incognito? Why all the effort to make things seem normal?
Well it’s really simple. I didn’t want you to know my house was empty.
I don’t know about you, but any time I get back from a trip away I always approach my house with a little trepidation. Could we have been burgled? Fortunately we never have, but I’ll do what I can to avoid it.
Obviously doors and windows are locked. A neighbour picks up the post and brings the bins back up. We’ve got timers on lights too. Standard stuff.
But not revealing that I’ll be away is equally important.
Advertising your absence
When you check in on Facebook that you’re at Heathrow Terminal 4 ready to jet off somewhere, you’re telling anyone who can see your page that you’re off on hols.
When you tweet a snap of some badly translated t-shirt in Asia, you’re clearly saying you’re not at home.
When you Instagram a photo of your Spanish tapas, again you’re telling people you’re away.
And, sadly, this could mean there’s a higher chance you will be burgled. You’ve been publicly saying you’re home is empty – a fantastic opportunity for any thieves.
“But it’s just my mates on Facebook”, you might be thinking. Yeah maybe. But is your security as tight as you think? All it takes is for a friend to like your post and it could then appear on another wall. And for most people, Twitter and Instagram are open to everyone. Everyone.
It’s a weird test, but next time you see a friend share their holiday online, head over to their house and take a look. I’d imagine you could find a lapse or two in security. And you’re not even a professional burglar (at least I hope not).
If the movie Home Alone was to be remade now, all The Wet Bandits would have to do is quickly check the McCallister’s Insta feed to see the family was away (except for Kevin of course).
Social media could even stop an insurance claim
Still, there’s always the hope it won’t happen, and hopefully if your home is broken to while you’re away, you’ve got insurance to cover any loses.
But it’s not that easy. You’re insurer might check back on your social media posts to see if you’ve advertised your absence to thieves. In the same way your claim would be rejected if you left a window open, social media posts about an empty property could be seen as neglectful on your part. That would mean no compensation for everything stolen. No repairs to broken doors or windows. You’d have to find the cash yourself.
So when you head off on your hols, maybe you should do as I do and take a break from social media. It might just stop your home being burgled.