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In cyber world, there’s nothing like delete key

It began:

“Hi muffin.”

It was an online invitation from someone I didn’t know. The writer said she was 27 and living in California. She was asking to be my friend. The photo showed a smiling blonde woman.

Now, that really concerned me, because I’ve never been anybody’s muffin.

Ask anybody who’s ever seen me, even from a distance, and they’ll agree, “Yep, he’s no muffin.”

I am what I am.

And if you want my defensive radar to go up really fast, you can tell me about your latest hot stock tip, or say, “Hi muffin.”

Even my wife doesn’t call me “muffin.”

But I did recognize this could be a way to appeal to a much older man’s vanity. To perhaps entice him into something unsavory and take his money. Assuming there is any. After all, there’s no fool like an old fool.

This probably happens more times than anyone wants to admit.

There’s a simple way to deal with unwanted attention. Don’t respond. And hit the “delete” button. That’s what I did.

There are many ways to network in cyberspace, including Facebook, MySpace, and Reunion.com. Any Web savvy person could probably name 100 more.

Until recently, I had resisted invitations to be anyone’s friend on the Net, including folks who really were my friends.

With millions of people online and members of one or more of the networking services, I recognized that maybe I had become a dinosaur. And I’m OK with that. After all, I don’t pay my bills online either. I still like to pay the old-fashioned way by writing a check, putting it into an envelope and mailing it.

But I finally joined up with a networking site when my nephew at the University of Georgia and his band, Doctor Squid, started making some noise up in Athens. It was a way to listen in and download their latest tunes.

And I have had fun with the site since then. I’ve only got a few friends on there, including Doctor Squid, a sister, the daughter of someone I served with in Vietnam with, and one of my wife’s nieces back in Vietnam.

Then, just for fun, I noted that many famous people are using these online sites to network. For musicians, it’s a way to stay in touch with fans, put their new songs out, and share any pronouncements they might have.

So, now I am “friends” with John Fogerty, Yoko Ono and Debbie Harry. Who knew?

But then the other day, I got this note from the young woman in California, asking if she could be my friend. I asked my wife and daughter to come over and take a look at the come-hither cyber note.

Why would a 27-year-old blonde want to be my friend, especially someone who had never met me?

There were two notes. That first one, which was relatively innocent, and which I deleted without responding.

And then the alarming “hi Muffin” note, which I deleted without responding even faster.

In the cyber world, there’s nothing like the delete key, unless it’s one that allows you to block unwelcome advances.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be reached at 708-7916.

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