Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Social Networking: A Sense of Security

As a woman, I can attest that there have been times of discomfort during travel, in the past. Depending on where you are and whether or not you know people around you, it is natural to question and sometimes even doubt your security. I have many stories of my voyages on the Amtrak that made me uneasy because there was a man that was looking at me in a way that made me feel like I just wanted to hide. Sometimes random strangers can get too close in your personal space and make you feel uncomfortable. Or, my greatest moment of fear, when I was taking a cab in London and the driver used an alternative route (that later turned out to be okay, but had me screaming internally for the ten minute drive that seemed to last an hour). Apparently, false identity for cab drivers is a major problem in London, so everywhere you looked there was a sign warning tourists (especially women) to not get into cabs unless they had booked them through their hotel. Even though I had booked mine, those feelings of insecurity crept in and didn't go away until I got out of the car.

While this post isn't meant to bash the male gender, it is meant to bring light to the fact that women must be on their guard during travel. Thanks to technology (and social networking), perhaps fear has the potential to subside.

According to a recent New York Times article, Ihollaback.org is a social networking site
that encourages women to share stories and provide data about harassment so they can map locations where it occurred. The most impressive thing about the fight-back phenomenon is the youthful determination to organize and take concerted action about a problem that female travelers have long faced on the road, often alone and without recourse.
Because of this website, and other websites that are being created for the same purpose, women have the opportunity to inform and help each other on a global level. This website is an example of how social networking sites can be used to ensure support for users and provide a sense of security that no matter where we go in the world (or how many moments of discomfort we may have when traveling), there are other women who are looking out for us because they've been there and done that.

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