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Five Ways to Screw Up Your Life with the Internet

One of the odd things about the Internet is that so many people don't seem to understand that it's real. Sure, they realize that there's a computer in front of them, a "series of tubes," and then...it gets kind of foggy. It's like they think there are magical pixies from the land of Lulz on the other end, as opposed to their family, friends, co-workers, and old boyfriends who are obsessively poring over their Facebook page.

Granted, they are aware that they do need to be careful about a few things: viruses, hackers, identity thieves, Nigerian princes who want to give them millions of dollars -- all the standard stuff. But there are some lesser known dangers of the Internet that can steamroll your life like Paris Hilton stampeding towards a line of cocaine.

1) Upload naked pictures and videos.

You'd be surprised how many people have naked pictures of themselves. Maybe they're guys like Anthony Weiner who have the mistaken impression that anyone wants to see their junk. Maybe they're women who get a little excited at the idea of a man seeing them naked. Maybe they're even a couple who wants to take it to the next level by filming themselves having sex to see if it looks more like a porn movie or two sea lions fighting under a blanket. Whatever the case may be, the problem is that in a digital age, these pictures and videos can get out to a much larger audience than originally intended. Just ask Weiner about that.

Personally, I once had a roommate call me in to look at some woman he'd met online who was trying to turn him on via webcam. I've also had more than one guy who broke up with his girlfriend who just flat out offered to show me naked pictures of her. One of them had dated the girl for almost two years. In all of those cases, the offers were completely unsolicited, so who knows how many other people got a look? I could tell you another half dozen disturbing stories about naked pictures (yes, it’s really that common of an issue) -- but instead, let me just say this:  you'd be surprised at how often those pictures end up causing problems. Think very, very hard before you take those pictures in the first place because once they get out of your control, you'll never get them back.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock