If I've been doing my job properly, a total stranger should have a vague ballpark of my age, be aware I have a wife, assume I work some sort of job, accept that I live on the moon but spend most of my time somewhere on the east coast of the US, and be able to explain in excruciating detail my thoughts and opinions on Star Trek, Mega Man, and a host of other geeky interests. Stalkers and hackers will always find a way to dig up more information if they want it badly enough, but I'm not in the habit of giving handouts—if you don't need to know my birthday or when I'll be out of the house, then you probably won't hear it from me.
That's part of the trouble, though—you probably won't hear it from me. You probably will hear it from somebody else. Suppose I'm out to dinner with some friends who take a picture of us with their cameras, and upload the photos to Facebook with a geographical location tag announcing that we are at this specific Denny's, come rob our houses before the check comes! Put enough of those location tags together on a map, and you can pretty much pinpoint where I live. Wait until somebody posts a photo album of "Nathaniel's X-tieth Birthday Party," and you've got my age and approximate birth date, too. We place an awful lot of trust in the global community to care about our personal information for the same reasons we do, and all it takes is one person—a total stranger, or someone you thought was a friend—to abuse that trust.
I think about celebrities--real celebrities, like, say, Carrot Top—who have virtually no privacy. Surely there should be no problem finding out where they live, what their phone number is, and what their computer password is likely to be. I'll bet there's a website somewhere that tracks every time Tom Cruise has the hiccups. With that kind of public visibility, how could anyone possibly keep a tight rein on their personal information?
I suppose it's comforting, in a way, to rarely hear about celebrities getting their Twitter account hacked or their trash getting sorted through by overzealous fans. Or maybe that happens all the time; I don't follow entertainment news.
Scary thought: Maybe it happens all the time, and nobody says anything because they're just used to it.