“What’s in the Bag?” – A Guide to Packing a Protest First Aid Kit

Please consider subscribing to my Patreon.

The basic dos and don’ts of what to carry to a protest are already pretty clearly laid out here, but if you’re planning on taking on the role of Street Medic, you may want to more carefully tailor your protest-specific “clean bag” to this specific purpose. The following covers the contents of a basic functional, versatile protest-specific first aid kit, with a description of what each is for. Medics may or may not want to prioritize certain materials, based on the conditions they’re most likely to come across while in the field.

Personal Protective Equipment:

Nitrile gloves: Important for protecting you from coming into contact with other people’s bodily fluids, you not only want to carry enough for yourself to wear a fresh pair with each patient, but also enough to provide gloves to anyone you ask for assistance in treating those with serious injuries. Nitrile gloves weigh next to nothing, and take up very little space, so in this case it is preferable to “over pack,” as you can never be carrying too many (within reason), but certainly do not want to be caught without enough.

Bandanna: There are plenty of good reasons to wear a bandanna while you’re out in the streets, and it never hurts to carry a spare. As with the nitrile gloves, bandannas weigh next to nothing, and take up almost no space, so it’s better to carry one or two than to be caught without one when they suddenly become necessary.

Gas Mask or Respirator: If you’re the type of person who is likely to want to stick around when tear gas and/or pepper spray is being deployed in large quantities, it may be worth it to invest in and carry a gas mask or respirator. More information on the particulars of gas masks and respirators (and tear gas) can be found here. While useful to carry, it is worth noting that gas masks are both bulky and fairly heavy. Respirators tend to be slightly less so, but still take up quite a bit of space.

Helmet: Given that a blow to the head with a less-lethal projectile can be deadly, it may be worthwhile to invest in a bicycle helmet for wearing to protests. As with gas masks and respirators, helmets are very bulky, and they can also make putting on and taking off a gas mask more difficult, but a helmet may still very well be a worthwhile inconvenience if you’re in an environment where things are being shot into a crowd.

Basic First Aid Supplies:

Duct tape: Duct tape is sterile and versatile. It can be used to affix gauze to wounds, can be used to create basic braces and slings for stabilizing and immobilizing injured joints, and much more. While duct tape is fairly heavy compared to other supplies, its versatility makes it well worth carrying. It IS important to note that most duct tape DOES CONTAIN LATEX, which some people may be allergic to. It is also important to note that even in cases where there is no latex allergy, it’s a real asshole move to stick duct tape to bare skin, especially where body hair is involved. In the interest of protecting people’s skin from duct tape, it may be worthwhile to carry a few spare (CLEAN) socks to slip over joints you’re trying to immobilize, before wrapping with tape. This has the added bonus of helping prevent the tape wrapping from being too tight, thus cutting off circulation.

Gauze: While gauze is a little fluffy, and does take up a fair amount of space, it is well worth carrying copious amounts. Gauze is yet another of those items where it’s better to have more than needed than it is to run into a situation where you don’t have enough. It may even be beneficial to carry gauze in a variety of sizes and configurations. Some useful sizes to carry include 2″x2″, 3″x3″, 4″x4″, rolled gauze, and if possible, a sealed compression dressing or two for extreme cases.

Instant Cold Packs: Cold packs can be useful for treating everything from heat stroke/exhaustion to sprains, fractures, and dislocations. They’re a little bulky and a little expensive, and aren’t expressly necessary, but can be a nice addition to your kit if you can spare the dollars and the space.

Burn Dressings: While somewhat expensive, it’s worth carrying a few of these little guys in case someone comes into contact with something very hot (like a projectile fired by police, or fire).

Unscented Menstrual Pads: Useful for conventional reasons, but also because they are absorbent enough to help staunch bleeding in cases of fairly serious injury.

Liquid Antacid + Water: A mixture of liquid antacid and water is useful for saturating bandannas in case of exposure to tear gas, as well as washing tear gas out of people’s eyes, and can help soothe the burn associated with exposure to pepper spray as well. A roughly 50/50 solution of milk of magnesia and water does the trick, but other antacids are also fine as long as they are alcohol-free and ideally unflavored. If only flavored antacids are available, cherry burns a lot less than mint.

Herbal Remedies:

Mullein Leaf Tincture: Useful aftercare for exposure to tear gas, as it helps heal the respiratory system. Mullein leaf has no known interactions, and should be safe for nearly anyone to use.

Plantain Salve: Useful for treating burns and scrapes, can be applied liberally to the affected area, and then covered with gauze.

Relaxation Tinctures: Herbal medicine is medicine, and should never be taken or administered without a solid understanding of effects and interactions. One of the best options is Borage tincture, which is mild, safe to use, and is meant to make people feel support and courage of heart. Alternatives such as Passionflower, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Lavender (infusion, not essential oil), and California Poppy may also be useful in helping treat panic attacks and anxiety attacks. These should all be used very carefully, as all may affect different people in different ways. Some of the milder options above, such as Passionflower, Lemon Balm, and Catnip, may be the best options for wide use. Rescue Remedy, which is homeopathic and therefore contains nearly zero actual plant matter, may be a safe alternative to any of the above, but is likely to be less effective. The fact is, calmly and confidently telling someone you’re going to give them something which will help them feel more relaxed is frequently the most important part of helping people feel calm and safe in a protest setting.

Other Useful Items:

Lollipops: Lollipops are great for providing a quick sugar rush in the event that someone is hypoglycemic and in need of a blood sugar boost. Additionally, they’re an excellent way to help calm children who may be feeling panicked for any number of reasons (like big crowds, or scary cops.)

Character Band-Aids: While it’s not explicitly necessary to carry any band-aids at all (as injuries which can be treated with a band-aid are not really necessary to treat in the first place), it can be helpful to have a couple on hand in case a child suffers from a small scrape or cut.

Trauma Shears: Useful for cutting, without having any possibility of being construed as a weapon. It is worth keeping in mind that the likelihood of losing your trauma shears is fairly high, and they will therefore probably need to be replaced frequently.

Garbage Bags: Useful both for containing clothing which has been contaminated with chemical weapons, and also for sanitary disposal of large amounts of waste which is contaminated with bodily fluids (like blood). Lightweight and compact, it’s worth carrying at least a few of these if you have them lying around.

A Change of Clothes: If you can fit them into your kit, it’s frequently worthwhile to carry a spare change of clothes in a sealed gallon-sized bag. Whether your own clothing is contaminated with chemical weapons, or you simply find yourself in a situation where altering your appearance is a necessary safety precaution, it can’t hurt to carry a costume change if you’re able.

Sharpies: Not only is it important to write important phone numbers on your own body, so you have access to them in case of arrest, but it may also be important to write information on a patient if they are unconscious and you have to pass them off to Emergency Medical Services. Knowledge of what has already been done to help a patient, and knowledge of any vital information you may have been given before the patient passed out (such as blood type and/or allergies) can help save lives.

Snacks and Water: Medics should not be responsible for carrying food and water for others, but we should always carry enough for ourselves. Self-care is an important part of not creating a second patient, and let’s be real: nobody wants to be treated by a hangry street medic anyway.

Emergen-C: These little square packets are full of electrolytes. When we sweat, we’re not only sweating out water, but also salts. Cracking open an Emergen-C packet, pouring a small amount of water directly into the pouch, and administering to someone who is suffering from severe dehydration can be a big help!

Other Medications:

NOTE: Pills and prescription medications should never be administered by street medics. As lay-people, prescribing medication is outside our scope of practice, and we have no legal protections for giving people medication. It is highly suggested that all of the medications on this list be self-administered by whoever needs them.

Ibuprofen: Useful for sprains, fractures, dislocations, and anything else where swelling is a factor.

Epi-pen: If you can get your hands on one, an epi-pen may save someone’s life, even if they need to self-administer (with or without your help.)

Albuterol Inhaler: Procurement of albuterol inhalers can be difficult, but if you have one and are willing to carry it, it may save a life if someone who is asthmatic is exposed to either tear gas or pepper spray.

Special thanks to Lauren Smith-Donohoe for her invaluable feedback on herbal first aid, and her personal influence on my own best practices as a street medic.

OPSEC for Activists Part 3: Always Carry A Bandana

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

Masked protesters in Montreal troll police with donuts on sticks.

Mention of the potential importance of carrying a mask has been made in both OPSEC for Activists Part 1 and OPSEC for Activists Part 2. There’s been brief mention of some of the reasons why it might be important to carry a mask, and this post will delve a little deeper into the subject.

There are a myriad good reasons to wear a mask to a protest, even if you feel no guilt or shame being there. Those reasons may include:

Dragnet Surveillance: It is not uncommon for police officers to record crowds of protesters at demonstrations. While having your face appear in this footage isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, for the sake of your privacy, it may be worth masking up anyway. Additionally, people whose faces appear in these videos are often either approached to testify against comrades in court cases, targeted for harassment by police, or accused of committing crimes due to proximity and convenience.

Child Custody Concerns: If you are a parent, it is entirely possible that your presence at protests could conceivably endanger your custody rights. If you have a vindictive ex, or other relative trying to gain custody of your children, they may cite your presence at protests as either neglect or child endangerment, depending on whether or not your children are at the demonstration with you. In light of this, it is best to wear a mask, and if you plan on bringing your children with you, you may wish to recommend that they wear masks as well.

Precarious Employment: If you are working for an employer who is either unsupportive of your political leanings, or doesn’t know you’re taking time off work to attend a demonstration (or deal with an arrest/court case), it may be wise to cover your face while you attend political actions. While it’s true that in most states and for most jobs, you can’t be fired for what you do in your time off, many employers are willing to either find ways to work around this, or flout these rules entirely. It’s not worth risking your livelihood by showing up on the evening news, when a simple bandana could save you from trouble in the first place.

Social Consequences: Perhaps you have a parent who worries too much, or a church community with varying values, or peers at work or school who might ostracize you. Perhaps you’re worried about future employment opportunities, or judgement from your in-laws, or weird looks from your neighbors. In any case, even if the social consequences aren’t terribly serious, it’s better to wear a mask than it is to allow potential social consequences to dissuade you from going to a demonstration at all.

Fascist Creeps: It is, perhaps, no surprise that white supremacists on the internet frequently go through photos from protests in order to identify and track down people whose politics don’t line up with their own. It is fairly common practice for them to circulate false rumors, attempt to get Child Protective Services involved in family situations, get people fired from their jobs, or attempt to fabricate incriminating evidence to turn over to law enforcement. Fascist creeps, as a matter of fact, represent all the threats laid out prior to their mention, as well as carrying with them the implicit threat of violence after the action is over. For the sake of protecting yourself from angry neo-nazis, it’s wise to not only mask up, but also to cover up any distinguishing marks such as tattoos, piercings, or scars as best as possible, in order to avoid being identified by the white supremacist fascists known as the “alt-right.”

Stock Photos: A much less serious threat than Actual Fucking Nazis, you do not want to be identifiable as part of a protest stock photo. The likelihood of accidentally being the poster child for a super awkward headline written by hyperconservatives isn’t high, per se, but as it’s easily avoidable by simply wearing a mask, the mask is probably the way to go.

Expanding the Anonymity Set: Even if you’ve gotten all the way through this post and don’t feel the need to wear a mask, I’d like to ask you to please consider whether or not any of the threats laid out affect anyone you care about. While there are certainly a myriad of ways to identify even masked activists, if someone is willing to put in the effort, the more of us who wear masks, the less likely someone is to be spotted and have their kids taken away, or fired from their job. The more masked demonstrators there are in the streets, the less likely any one of us will be tracked down and threatened (or attacked) by right wing extremists. Even if you are not personally at risk, wearing a mask is both an important act of solidarity with our comrades, and also an effective means of helping them disappear into the masked crowd.

So have fun storming the castle, stay safe, and Always Carry A Bandana.

Everyday Activism

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

Let’s say you, like so many others, care about social justice. Let’s say you want to build a better world by helping erase oppression, and facilitate resistance against the power structures which prop up the disenfranchisement of marginalized groups. Let’s say you, for literally any reason, have decided that marching in the streets and taking part in large protests just isn’t the right role for you.

It turns out, there are a wide range of options available to you to further the causes you care about, even if you are unable to participate in direct action, or other demonstrations. Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions:

  • Find out who does legal support work in your area, and ask how you can help: between helping conduct Know Your Rights workshops, answering phones for the legal hotline, tracking down arrested people, communicating with worried family members, doing administrative work for attorneys doing pro bono defense work, and everything else that needs doing in the activist legal field, there is almost always a need for more help in this area.
  • Support people at their court dates: find out when people who have been arrested have to appear in court. Check in to see whether they’d like support, if you can. If this isn’t possible, show up, be well behaved, and make sure they know they don’t have to endure the dehumanizing process of being shuffled through the court system alone.
  • Write to prisoners: whether it’s someone whose case is ongoing, but cannot afford bail, or someone who was unable to beat their case and is now serving time, writing to incarcerated people is a wonderful way to remind them that they still matter to people, and that they are supported in their struggles. All prisoners are political prisoners, and all prisoners deserve reminders that they are cared for.
  • Support campaigns for incarcerated people: people who are imprisoned are both in dire need of income, and also largely cut off from sources of income. Fundraising for prisoners may look like raising funds for their commissary, funds to help support their children, money for their families so that they can afford the exorbitant prices for accepting phone calls from their incarcerated loved one, bail funds, and legal defense/appeal funds. Other support for prisoners may look like campaigns to send them books and/or magazine subscriptions, organizing visits from comrades, facilitating visits from family, providing childcare, and generally helping a prisoner’s family survive while their loved one is incarcerated.
  • Providing emotional and/or material support to those who DO engage in demonstrations and/or direct action: this may look like holding space for friends while they unpack trauma caused by police repression, cooking a meal, helping with some chores, being willing to talk about anything BUT what they’ve just experienced, offering to cover shifts for them at work if they are arrested (or simply too tired/traumatized to go into work), offering to feed their animals if they are incarcerated, offering to babysit while they go to a demonstration, offering rides to people who need to get out quickly, being an emergency contact for someone attending a protest, and more.
  • Doing actual educational labor around social justice issues: this means you actually check in and engage, one-on-one with people when they say something crappy, rather than standing on a soapbox and talking about how you are superior to them. This may mean recommending resources for further reading, linking to studies which demonstrate how they are wrong, and patiently rephrasing your point until you land on phrasing that actually sticks. This means speaking to people as equals, and generally means assuming that they have good intentions and bad information, rather than the inverse. This means engaging rather than blocking, and it usually means a *private* discussion, because a public discussion is often too embarrassing to be productive. This may also mean being a trustworthy resource for people who are working on their shit, so that they know they can come to you without receiving judgement or ridicule, and without having their confidence broken, to ask questions about doing better.
  • Checking in with people doing support work: support work, especially in the cases of medics, legal workers, and anti-repression work, can be an emotionally taxing and highly traumatic experience. The secondary trauma which comes from diving into repression-filled environments in an effort to pull others out is a heavy burden to carry, and having community members check in and shoulder some of that burden means that those doing the immediate support work can continue to do so for a much longer period of time. If you’re not sure how to support people doing this work, simply ask how they’re doing. If that doesn’t feel like enough, it’s okay to tell them you’re here for them, and that they can lean on you if they need to. Even if they don’t take you up on your offer, I promise, the offer is worth a lot, and it DOES help.
  • Stop laughing at racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, queerphobic, classist, ageist, otherwise oppressive “jokes”: even if you’re not in a place where you’ve eradicated oppressive language from your speech, you know this shit isn’t funny. Speak up about it. Straight up say, “I don’t think it’s funny to make fun of _________ people.” Don’t repeat the joke later, don’t turn around and tell others how awesome you are for not laughing, just put this nonsense in check whenever and wherever it pops up, because making fun of people for being part of an oppressed class is never, ever funny. And because not laughing at this shit doesn’t make you some sort of social justice superhero, it’s actually the bare minimum for human decency.
  • Work with kids: in any way, and for any length of time. Teach kids to be decent to one another without erasing the differences between them. Teach them that while our differences shape our life experiences, they also give us amazing opportunity to learn from one another. Teach what kindness and decency look like. Teach them to know the difference between right and wrong, for real.
  • Don’t drag down other people’s efforts: there is room for people with differing political ideologies to work on the same issues without belittling one another’s work. There is nearly infinite space for addressing the harm caused by oppressive power structures, and what works for some people may not work for others. Rather than focusing energy tearing down other efforts for not being perfect, we can all strive to do our best, and leave others to do their best. We are not all operating with the same tools, so the solutions we build are all going to be different. Since we’re still a long way away from an egalitarian society, THIS IS OKAY. We don’t have to be in agreement on what an ideal society looks like, because we’re still generations away from it. We just need to agree on some of the things that are wrong, and all work in our own ways to address it. More tactics being employed by more people means a greater chance of finding some solution that works, even if it only works a little bit, for a little while. By all means, if someone’s tactics are actually hurting you (or someone else), that should be addressed… but none of us are perfect, we are all still learning, and we all need constructive feedback from time to time. Meet people where they’re at, if you can, and if you can’t, maybe just leave them alone and work on your own project instead.
  • Accept feedback gracefully: even when it doesn’t come in a tone you appreciate, try to divorce the feedback from the tone, and make something of it. Consider carefully others’ critique of your work, even if it isn’t given kindly. It’s okay to reject critique if you’ve considered it and found it invalid, but it should be considered nevertheless. This goes double when the critique comes from someone marginalized upon different axes than your own, and triple when you’re doing “ally” or “accomplice” work, and the critique comes from someone you’re attempting to be an “ally” or “accomplice” to. Criticism is a learning opportunity, and we should all do due diligence to make sure we’re not missing important facets of the issues we are collectively struggling to fix.

A lot of this work is a lot less “sexy” than rioting, or chaining oneself to a police station door to shut down their operations, but every bit of it is extremely important. If you can’t, or don’t want to be in the streets, that doesn’t at all mean that you and your work don’t matter. The struggle for a better world is reliant upon all of our best efforts, and there are ways for each and every one of us to contribute according to our abilities.

The Quick and Dirty Tear Gas Primer

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

Because tear gas is a commonly-used dispersal tactic all around the world, here is a primer containing all the basic information you need to deal with it before, during, and after exposure.

  • Tear gas is not actually a gas, but rather an aerosolized particulate. Basically, it’s burn-dust and propellant. It is designed to stick to mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, throat) and hurt.
  • A damp towel, bandanna, or other cloth over the nose and mouth can greatly reduce the effects of tear gas. The tighter the weave of fabric, the more effective it will be.
  • Because tear gas burns, a mixture of liquid antacid and water (commonly referred to as LAW) can be applied to affected areas to rinse off the dust and neutralize the burning. Maalox, milk of magnesia, and actual milk are all commonly-used remedies. Milk of magnesia contains the highest concentration of antacid, is typically the least expensive per application, and doesn’t spoil.
  • It is commonly believed that vinegar on cloth can help counteract tear gas. The reason this works is because of the previously-mentioned effectiveness of cloth+moisture for trapping dust before you inhale it. Vinegar is not necessary, and you can (and absolutely should) use the liquid antacid and water of your choice for this purpose. Using the liquid antacid mixture also reduces the chance of accidentally pouring the wrong liquid into people’s eyes, in low-visibility conditions.
  • Tear gas is classified as a “less lethal” munition. Tear gas is painful and unpleasant, but most people CAN breathe in conditions where tear gas has been deployed in outdoor settings. Short, slow, shallow breaths are best, when possible.
  • Tear gas is classified as “less lethal” in part because it absolutely can kill people with asthma. As you are leaving an area being gassed, look around you for people who are unable to walk, and try to help them to safety. If you are traveling with an asthmatic friend, it may be a good idea for you to carry a spare inhaler for them, in an easily-accessible place, so that they are at less risk of not having access to one.
  • Tear gas canisters are typically deployed using 40mm grenade launchers. A canister blow to the head may be fatal. If possible, wear head protection. Even a bicycle helmet could save your life.
  • Tear gas canisters are extremely hot. Do not touch them with bare skin, plastic, or other synthetic materials which may melt. If you may come into physical contact with a canister, welder’s gloves, leather baseball mitts, oven mitts, hockey sticks, etc. are be your best bet.
  • It is not necessary to touch canisters. Dumping water on an active canister, or covering it with a bucket, can help stop deployment of additional particulate.
  • Don’t run. Running causes you to breathe harder, and puts you and others around you at greater risk of falling, being tripped, being trampled, or other injury. Additionally, because tear gas clouds impair vision, this gives extra reason to move carefully and as calmly as possible.
  • Under most circumstances, the damp cloth over the mouth and nose, and swimming goggles over the eyes is sufficient for normal tear gas exposure. If you intend to spend prolonged amounts of time in tear gas, or if you have breathing conditions, you may want to look into a gas mask or respirator.
  • If you are going to purchase a gas mask, look for one that takes “NATO” (40mm) threaded canisters, as these are easiest to find replacement filters for.
  • If you are going to purchase a respirator, look for one rated N-95 or better. If pepper spray is also a risk factor, you may want to consider spending the extra money on a R- or P-95 or better-rated respirator, as these are (respectively) resistant to or “proofed” against oils as well as particulates.
  • If you do opt for a gas mask or respirator, make sure that it properly seals around your mouth, nose, and (in the case of a full gas mask) also around your eyes before relying on it to protect you. Practice wearing your respirator or gas mask, familiarize yourself with how it alters your breathing, and get used to the way it feels before wearing it outside.
  • Do not wear contact lenses. Contact lenses can trap tear gas particulates against your eye, potentially doing irreparable damage to your corneas.
  • Do not wear oil-based sunblock, lotions, moisturizers, or other skin products. Oil-based skin products can cause tear gas to better adhere to your body, intensifying its effects.
  • If possible, carry a change of clothes in a sealed ziplock bag, and a trash bag for contaminated clothing. You may want to change in front of your house, rather than bringing contaminated clothing into your home.
  • After exposure to tear gas, take a COOL shower to wash off remaining particulate. Keep in mind that taking a hot shower can reactivate remaining particles, making your shower experience very, very unpleasant. Please believe me when I tell you that teargassing yourself in the shower is significantly more unpleasant than taking a cold shower.
  • Seek medical care if you continue to have trouble breathing after exposure. Smoking dried mullein leaf is some hippie shit that can actually significantly alleviate the ill effects of tear gas exposure.

Remember that tear gas is, first and foremost, a tool for dispersal. Its intended use is to get you to leave and never come back, and it is extremely effective at achieving this. Tear gas is scary, and extremely unpleasant, and it’s okay to be afraid. If you can push through your fear, you are actively denying the police what they want, and that is a truly beautiful thing.

OPSEC for Activists, Part 2: Packing for a Protest

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

Many protests are impromptu affairs, and you don’t always have prior knowledge that one is going to happen. In some cases, you may not have time to pack a bag beforehand, and even when you do have time, you’re not always thinking clearly. For these reasons (and more!) I recommend buying a cheap backpack (if you can), and using it as a dedicated protest “go kit.”

My own grab-and-go kit is what I refer to as a “clean bag.” This is because as important as it is to bring the things you need, it is even more important to make sure you’re not bringing anything that could endanger you or your peers, or result in serious criminal charges being brought against you in the event of an arrest and search of your possessions. Packing a “clean bag” not only means that I make sure I’m not bringing anything to a protest I don’t want to be caught holding, but actually that even when I’m NOT attending a protest, nothing contentious ever goes into that bag.

Things to AVOID bringing:
As I said before, what you bring is secondary in importance ONLY to what you make sure you do not bring. These are things I make sure don’t go into my clean bag EVER:

  • Anything sharp: no knives, no scissors (I carry a pair of trauma shears instead), nothing pointy at all.
  • No weapons: don’t bring baseball bats, brass knuckles, those little cat keychains, or anything else considered to be a weapon, if you can possibly avoid it.
  • No “burglary tools“: lockpicks, hammers, wrenches, etc.
  • Nothing explosive: No matches, no flares, etc. Being caught somewhere you’re not supposed to be, carrying “incendiary devices” is pretty much never a good thing.
  • No alcohol: It may seem silly to mention, but don’t bring booze to a protest. At best, you get popped for public intoxication; at worst, you get accused of trying to make incendiary devices. It’s not worth it.
  • No drugs: Don’t bring any illegal drugs at all (even weed, even where decriminalized), and never bring more than 3 days worth of prescription medication with you. If you are bringing your prescription, make sure it is in its original packaging, complete with your legal name and dosing information on the bottle.
  • No paint, spray paint, etc.: Getting caught with paint supplies during a protest where any kind of vandalism may be taking place tends to look real bad. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I am going to say “don’t get caught with paint.”
  • Oil-based makeup, lotion, and/or sunblock: Oil-based products can cause chemical agents like pepper spray and tear gas to stick to your skin, intensifying their effects. If you’re not sure whether or not your sunblock is oil-based, you’re far better off covering up in light clothing and skipping the sunblock altogether.
  • Contact lenses: as oil-based sunblock can cause chemical agents to stick to your skin, contact lenses can trap pepper spray and/or tear gas against your corneas, potentially resulting in permanent blindness.As an added precaution, it is generally best to make sure that anything essential that you do bring (medication, ID, house keys, phone) stays on your immediate person rather than being put into your bag, as arrest is always a possibility, and sometimes you will be separated from your bag (or may need to abandon it to make a hasty getaway), and you want to make sure you can still take your meds and get into your house.

    So what should actually go into your bag? All kinds of things

    The Essentials:

    If you’re planning on attending a protest, the following items are bare essentials you should bring along, in order to sustain you and keep you from being reliant on the people around you (who may or may not actually be prepared to assist anyone), and to mitigate some negative outcomes which may arise. Some of them may not seem necessary, but a majority of what seems excessive weighs next to nothing and will make a huge difference in the event of arrest or injury.

  • Water: And I’m not talking a little 16.9 oz bottle, either. Water is heavy, water is important, and if you can carry a gallon of it in your pack to cover yourself and someone who may not be able to carry their own, you’re not just shouldering your burden, you’re taking care of others around you and alleviating the work load of organizers and medics.
  • Snacks: Hanger (that’s hunger, plus anger) is real. Hanger is the mindkiller. Hanger is the little-death that brings total obliteration. You must feed your hanger. Let it pass over and through you, and when it has gone, you will know you were right to bring those snacks. Being hungry can take a bad situation, and make it worse. Making sure to keep your blood sugar at reasonable levels can make all the difference at a protest. You’re putting your body on the line for a cause, that body needs to be fueled!
  • Your ID: Plenty of people will argue with me on this one, but the fact is that if you are going to get arrested, having your ID on you may be the difference between being cited and released, and being held in custody.  You probably don’t need to bring your entire wallet, but it is almost always worth grabbing your ID and sticking it in your pocket (not your bag) on your way out the door.
  • Prescription medication: If you are on prescription drugs of any kind, and missing a dose is going to be a problem, do yourself a favor and bring along 3 days worth of your medicine *IN ITS ORIGINAL PACKAGING*. Make sure the packaging has the dosing information and your legal name on it, and make sure to keep it on your person (again, in a pocket, not in your bag.)
  • Emergency cash: You never know at what point you may need to beat a hasty exit. Bringing emergency cash can enable you to hop onto public transportation, dive into a taxi, or wander into a coffee shop to buy a latte and blend in with the rest of their clientele. You don’t need to bring much, but it’s always worth it to have a little cash on hand.
  • Comfortable shoes, and clothing you can move in easily: You never know how long you’ll be out, and you also never know how quickly you’ll need to get away. It may also be a good idea to pack a small change of clothes in your bag, for a variety of reasons. For one, if you need to get away, ducking into a restroom and swapping out your clothes can help you disguise yourself. Additionally, if you’re exposed to chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, you may want to change outside and put your clothes into a seal-able plastic bag before bringing them into your home.
  • Emergency information: write crucial phone numbers (legal hotline, the co-worker who may need to cover your shift, the housemate who might have to feed the cat or walk the dog, a friend who might be able to bail you out, the babysitter who may need to stay late) on your arm, in permanent marker. Other things you may want to write on your arm include allergies, medical conditions that first responders should know about, etc. Arrest and injury are always possibilities at pretty much any protest, and permanent marker on skin is the best way to make sure that you never get separated from your emergency information.Additionally, in the event that emergency medical attention is needed, and you cannot advocate for yourself, having that information on your body can be extremely helpful.


    There are some things which, while not entirely necessary, may well be of use if you’re planning on attending a protest. A majority of these items are geared towards helping you and the people around you, and are generally intended to extend the length of time you may be able to stay out in the streets.

  • A first aid kit: Specifically and especially gauze, duct tape, ice packs, ACE bandages, and extra water. Even if you don’t know how to treat injuries, carrying extra supplies is useful if you’re up for it.
  • A mask: Even if you intend to be the most peaceful protester who ever lived, there are still a million excellent reasons why you may not want to have your face associated with a demonstration, and any demonstration can change in a matter of moments. Additionally, in the event of tear gas, a dampened bandanna is better protection for your lungs than nothing at all. (Isn’t it a good thing you’re also carrying extra water?)
  • A notebook (and pen!): Jot down police officer names, street names, and times when you see shitty things happening. If you see someone being arrested, take notes on what you’re seeing, and be sure to share your notes with any legal organizations doing protester support work.
  • A camera: Read this, and then go out with your camera and start recording cops doing terrible things. Make sure to also read this before doing anything with your photos/videos.
  • A gas mask or respirator: You probably won’t need one. In most cases, even if tear gas has been deployed, as long as you’re not running into it, you are probably fine just covering your mouth and leaving the immediate area. However, if you have respiratory issues, do not intend to leave a tear gas-filled area, and/or intend to walk into tear gas, you may want either a gas mask or a respirator and goggles.
  • Liquid antacid and water: Because tear gas and pepper spray both burn, it can be extremely useful to carry a mixture of liquid antacid and water in a spray bottle to apply to affected areas. Make sure to use unflavored antacids, as the peppermint-flavored ones often burn a bit when applied to the eyes. Milk of magnesia is generally a best bet, as it’s got a higher concentration of magnesium hydroxide (the antacid ingredient) than do most liquid antacids, and it also doesn’t contain the same additives as others. A 50-50 mix of liquid antacid and water is considered ideal.
  • Rescue remedy: Yeah, it’s hippie as shit, but it makes some people feel calm, and it’s unlikely to hurt anyone or anything.

There are plenty of other things you may or may not want to bring with you, depending on the role you intend to play at a demonstration, but it’s most important to consider what the negative ramifications of being caught with those items may be, and also important to leave anything that can’t be replaced at home. If you’re planning on bringing any of the items outlined in the first part of this guide, make sure they’re in a separate bag, which can be easily discarded if things are beginning to look like they may lead to arrests, and try to be conscious of what traces of yourself you may be leaving behind if and when you do drop that bag.

Protests are not safe spaces, and regardless of what any organizer may tell you, the risk of police brutality and/or arrest is always there. Planning accordingly can be the difference between a cite-and-release and a felony, and can also be the difference between going home or going to the hospital. This does not mean that you should stay home, it just means that proper preparation gives you and everyone around you your best chance at creating the change you want to see in the world. For more information about how to keep yourself safe before, during, and after an action, read this.

Eternal gratitude to @geminiimatt for reading this prior to release.

OPSEC for Activists, Part 1: The Basics

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.


When attending a protest, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Your experiences during a demonstration may vary based on a lot of different factors. It is generally best practice to prepare as though you may be arrested, even if the risk factor seems very low.

Some things you may want to consider include:

  1. Lock your cell phone.
    A 2014 Supreme Court Ruling states that police must obtain a warrant before searching your cell phone. While it is possible that officers may act in defiance of this order, securing your phone with a PIN, passphrase, or fingerprint can help ensure that they do not violate this ruling without your knowledge.There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these three methods of securing your device:Fingerprints: provide very quick access, and cannot be shoulder-surfed; however, if a warrant is obtained for the search of your device, you can be legally compelled to unlock it.
    PIN: provides quick access, is easy to remember, and may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained; however, a 4-digit PIN can be easy to guess/crack, and may also be easy to shoulder-surf.
    Passphrase: may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained, and is more difficult to guess, crack, or shoulder-surf; however, a strong passphrase may be difficult to enter if you need to access your phone quickly, and strong passphrases may also be more difficult to remember.
    Any of these three options is a good choice, and all three are preferable to leaving your phone unlocked. Choose the solution that works best for you, and don’t worry too much about its imperfections.
  2. Encrypt your text messages.
    There are a variety of options at your disposal. Signal, Wickr, and even iMessage all provide reasonably secure messaging. The encryption all three provide means the plaintext content of your messages isn’t able to be captured by IMSI catchers (aka “Stingrays”) that law enforcement agencies set up to monitor protester communications.With Signal specifically, this protection extends to your phone calls as well as your text messages.As an added security measure, Signal for Android allows you to password-protect access to your text messages, and Wickr allows password protection on both the Android and iPhone platforms. The benefit of this password protection is that if you are using a fingerprint lock for your phone, law enforcement will still be legally unable to compel you to grant access to any password-protected databases, as passwords are protected under the Fifth Amendment.
  3. Check your pockets.
    Make sure you check your pockets before you head out. Be mindful of anything you may be carrying that could be construed as a weapon, and try not to bring anything you cannot bear to lose.Additionally, if you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring them with you in their original packaging. It is best to only bring a 3 day supply or so, and to leave the rest at home, in the event that you are somehow separated from your possessions and cannot get them back immediately (or at all.)
  4. Bring a mask.
    While it’s entirely possible you will have no need for it, bringing a bandanna or other face-covering can help in many ways. Wearing a mask is unlikely to protect your identity in any real and meaningful ways if you are seen doing something illegal, but it may help protect you from passive recognition by local law enforcement officers, thus shielding you from being singled out for future harassment based on your political ideologies.Additionally, wearing a mask can help keep you from being spotted by employers watching news coverage of events, or to avoid being the poster child for unsavory headlines. Photos of your face may be available long after the protest, or even the movement is over, so it is important to consider how being associated may impact you several years down the line.
  5. Choose your clothing carefully.
    Distinctive clothing can make you easy to pick out of a crowd, easy to place at the scene of a crime (even if it is not a crime you have committed,) and easy to target for police repression. While “black bloc anarchists” are frequently demonized as “violent” and “criminal,” the fact remains that black bloc is actually a tactic, not a faction, and its roots lie in protecting individuals from being targeted for repression during or after a demonstration, by cloaking everyone in a shroud of homogeneity.It is, of course, still possible to use biometrics such as height, weight, facial structure, and gait analysis to identify people in a crowd, but unremarkable attire can still help your chances significantly. It is particularly wise to avoid wearing bright colors, and also a good idea to abstain from wearing jewelry. If you have brightly-colored hair and/or tattoos, it may also be a good idea to cover these.If you are anticipating exposure to chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, it is important to know that while synthetic fabrics will not absorb these chemicals, and may provide a good barrier between them and your skin, they may also melt if they come into contact with something hot.Additionally, make sure whatever you’re wearing is easy to move around in (specifically in the event that you need to make a quick escape), and wear comfortable shoes.
  6. Prepare your emergency contacts.
    Find out whether there is a legal hotline that operates in your area. In many areas where such hotlines do exist, it is sometimes possible that they may not be staffed for all demonstrations, but it is always wise to write the phone number for the hotline in sharpie on your arm, as many unstaffed hotlines will also find emergency staffing in the event of arrests being made. Additionally, it is a good idea to check in with a couple trusted individuals who will not be at the demonstration; write their numbers on your arm as well, talk to them beforehand about any relevant information that you might want a legal hotline to know (prescriptions you need, whether or not you want public support, whether or not you want to be bailed out, who, if anyone, you’d like to have called, etc.)As part of this procedure, it’s also a good idea to set a check-in time with any individuals you are designating as emergency contacts; this is for a number of reasons. For one, it is always possible that you may get only one phone call in the event of arrest. It’s generally best to use this call to contact a legal hotline, but often there is a time lapse of several hours between being taken into custody, and being given your phone call. In the mean time, your emergency contacts can assume that your failure to check in means that you are unable to do so, and can start calling into the hotline, or calling people who need to be informed of your arrest (maybe you need a co-worker to cover a shift, maybe you need to let your housemates know you won’t be able to take your laundry out of the dryer or feed your dog, maybe you need your partner or neighbor to pick your child up from school.)Remember, also, that phone calls made from jail are monitored, so be mindful of what you are saying, and make sure your contact knows not to say anything that could be used against you as well. It may also be a good idea to come up with a duress phrase, to be used in the event of extreme emergency if you’ve told your contacts you do not want to be bailed out, but circumstances you may not wish to discuss over the phone have changed that.
  7. Keep your mouth shut.It is important to remember that you are under no obligation to answer questions posed by law enforcement officers. If you are being taken into custody, you may be required to show identification and give fingerprints, but there is no need to answer questions prying for information beyond that given by whichever form of identification you choose to use. Officers in the United States will often ask questions conversationally without first reading you your Miranda Rights, but you are under no obligation to answer them, and should refrain from doing so.Law enforcement officers are well-trained in asking questions conversationally, so you don’t necessarily realize they are pumping you for information, and any information you reveal, even in response to a seemingly innocuous question, can be used to hurt you. Specifically state that you would like to invoke your right to remain silent, ask to speak to an attorney, and say nothing else, no matter how harmless you think it may be.
  8. Consider repression tactics.
    Several of the dispersal tactics used by various law enforcement agencies may influence the choices you make prior to attending a demonstration. If police in your area use chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, you should refrain from wearing any oil-based makeup or contact lenses. If law enforcement uses less-lethal projectiles, you may wish to wear thicker clothing to help pad against rubber bullets and beanbag rounds. You may also want to consider bringing a gas mask and/or helmet along with you.
  9. Never travel alone.
    When going to a protest, always bring a buddy along to watch your back. Buddies should help keep each other safe from being flanked by law enforcement, being taken into custody without anyone knowing, or generally getting left behind. Having someone to watch your back can make a huge difference in how safe you are at a protest.Additionally, never depart from a protest alone; at minimum, travel using the buddy system, and whenever possible, travel in larger groups. Post-demonstration snatch-and-grab arrests by law enforcement are frequent occurrences, and traveling in a group means that at very least, there are witnesses if you are targeted.With special thanks to The Grugq for reviewing this guide.

Stop Snitching: Documentation Without Incrimination Part 2

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

So you’ve learned how to document a demonstration without getting anyone into trouble, but now you’ve got a ton of footage and aren’t sure what to do with it. Chances are, if you’re a journalist being paid to cover the protests, your mind is already made up. If you’re not, there are some things to keep in mind. Chances are, if you’ve followed the instructions from my previous post, your photos and/or video footage are “safe” to post to social media. However, if you’ve captured images of someone being arrested or injured by police, you may want to check a few things before posting those images publicly.

Being arrested or subject to police violence can be a deeply traumatic, deeply vulnerable experience. As such, it is entirely possible that people subject to these indignities may not want to have that experience broadcast for public consumption. Additionally, if someone is taken into custody, it is preferable that their loved ones not find out by seeing their image plastered across social media.

Aside from the above, there is one other excellent reason to tread carefully when posting footage of someone’s arrest or brutalization: opposing counsel. In cases of both arrest and injury, the specter of litigation looms. With an arrest, a person may very well be facing charges. In cases of police repression, the affected party may either be brought up on charges later, or may want to file a lawsuit against the police department.

In any of these scenarios, it is best to offer footage to the person featured, rather than posting it publicly where anyone can see it. In the event of a pending court case, this may involve getting the footage to an incarcerated person’s attorney, or perhaps just finding a secure means of giving the data to the person it concerns, thus allowing them to review it (and ideally get legal counsel) before releasing it to the population at large. Even in the absence of a pending court case, reaching out and offering the content to the person(s) depicted, rather than posting it of your own volition, is likely the best course of action.

There are many means by which you can transfer the images you’ve captured; the best is to put the data onto a thumb drive, and hand it directly to the person you’d like to receive it. Second best is to physically mail a thumb drive, using tamper-evident packaging. In both cases, if for a court case, it is possible that you can get reimbursement from the attorney to whom you are supplying the data. Failing the ability to physically transfer data, you can also resort to email, but should avoid this if possible.

It is very true that it may be difficult to find the person whose arrest or brutalization you’ve captured, but it is absolutely worth the effort. The photos you snap, and video you record, and your discretion in keeping them private, may be the difference between jail and freedom for someone else.

Checklist for Organizing an Inclusive Event

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

Organizing is hard. Inclusivity can be difficult. Here is a live document intended to help organizers cover all the bases, so that no one is made to feel like they are unimportant or an afterthought.

  • Will there be childcare? Regardless of whether there will or will not be, this question should be answered in all event announcements, so parents can make informed decisions.
  • Is this space accessible? This question should be answered in all event announcements, regardless of the level of accessibility of the event. Some things to keep in mind include accessibility for people in wheelchairs, people who walk but have other physical disabilities, accessibility for those with sensitivity to scents or allergies, accommodations for people who are hard of hearing or deaf, content that may be triggering to those suffering from PTSD, proximity to public transportation, 
  • Is the makeup of the group of presenters diverse? This is NOT a suggestion that you include a solitary cisgender white woman, and say you’ve got a “diverse panel.” Your speakers should mirror the groups you are intending to speak TO. If you want your group to feel inclusive to people of color, and white people who are not cisgender men, you should not just be inviting them to attend, you should also be asking them to speak. Keep a public list of speakers, and update it as you add more, so that people can make an informed decision about whether your event really speaks to them.
  • Is there a fee associated? All event announcements should include this information. Additionally, if you are interested in maximum inclusivity but must charge for your event, a sliding scale and/or inclusion of the phrase “no one turned away for lack of funds” can be a huge step.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are all questions that should be answered publicly when your event is announced, rather than questions you should scramble to respond to when someone brings them up. Regardless of your resources as an organizer, or capacity to actually fix accessibility issues like those mentioned above, simply addressing them up front can make a huge difference between making people feel like they were considered in the organizing stages of your event, or making them feel like an inconvenient afterthought.

Auto-defensa en Redes Sociales

Please consider supporting my writing on Patreon.

Con muchas gracias á @federicomena por la traducción!

Los acontecimientos recientes han suscitado una discusión sobre la necesidad de tener seguridad operacional al hacer uso de redes sociales. Hay discusiones sobre cómo mantener una presencia en línea al mismo tiempo que se proteje la vida privada y se resguarda la identidad de uno mismo. Esto ocurre en comunidades que nunca antes habían sentido la necesidad de practicar la seguridad operacional, y que nunca habían considerado la posibilidad de ser víctimas de violaciones de seguridad de datos.

En esta era de las redes sociales, hay muchas formas en las que nuestra presencia en línea puede usarse en contra nuestra por muchos tipos de adversarios. Desde acosadores hasta fiscales, cualquier información pública que pueda asociarse a nuestras identidades puede usarse en ventaja de ellos y en nuestra contra. Es importante que conozcamos los recursos que, sin querer, ponemos a disposición de quien quiere atacarnos.

Con el propósito de que la seguridad operacional práctica sea accesible a más gente, he compilado una lista de estrategias básicas para ayudar a ocultar los nexos entre una cuenta en redes sociales y la identidad verdadera de uno. Esta lista no es de ningún modo exhaustiva, y es importante tener en mente que un adversario con suficientes recursos muy probablemente podrá deducir este ocultamiento, si tiene suficiente tiempo. Dicho esto, casi siempre vale la pena hacer estas conexiones más difíciles, especialmente cuando nos incurren un costo muy bajo en cuanto a su ejecución.

1. Usa una dirección de correo diferente para cada red social

Cuando quieres ocultar la conexión entre cuentas en redes sociales, es importante usar una dirección de correo diferente y exclusiva para cada sitio, que no tenga relación con otros perfiles, nuestro nombre legal, o de forma ideal, ninguno de nuestros datos públicos. Usar nombre.apellido@trabajo.com es mala idea; usar sutantivo_al_azar.color_al_azar@gmail.com es una gran idea. Crear direcciones de correo nuevas es fácil, entonces no hay necesidad de re-utilizar una para las cuentas que quieres mantener separadas.

Consejo: puedes usar un servicio como 10minutemail.net para genera una dirección de correo temporal y usarla para crear una cuenta de Gmail.

2. Escoge un nombre de usuario único

No re-utilices nombres de usuario en las redes que quieras mantener separadas. No uses nombreapellido69 para las cuentas que no quieras que estén ligadas a tu identidad legal. Escoge algo diferente. Cualquier cosa. No importa.

3. No uses las mismas fotos

No uses las mismas fotos en los perfiles que quieras mantener separados. Hay servicios para hacer búsqueda inversa de fotos (le das una foto y te dice de dónde salió) y te pueden joder el día. Idealmente, no uses imágenes de tu cara en absoluto en un perfil que no quieras que se asocie a ti – pero si es indispensable, asegúrate que no se pueda rastrear de vuelta a tus cuentas en Twitter o Facebook sólo mediante hacer una búsqueda de arrastrar-y-soltar.

4. Tus pestañas del navegador son TU asunto

No des ningún indicio de que estás usando un sitio que no quieres que la gente sepa: si estás tratando de mantener privada una cuenta, asegúrate de no dar ninguna pista de que esa cuenta existe al tener pestañas del navegador abiertas. Fíjate que no espíen sobre tu hombro mientras usas esa cuenta, y nunca postées capturas de pantalla que muestren las pestañas del navegador. JAMÁS.

5. Limpia tu historial del navegador

Religiosamente. Como en el punto anterior, si no quieres que la gente sepa que estás usando un sitio o servicio, es mejor no dejar evidencia con la que se pueda topar alguien sin querer. Borrar tu historial del navegador es fácil. Usar Chrome o Firefox en modo incognito o privado, y cerrar las pestañas después de cada sesión, es todavía más fácil.

6. Cuando sea posible, paga con dinero en efectivo

Cuando hagas compras relacionadas con tu identidad privada, paga en efectivo. Cuando no puedas usar efectivo, considera la posibilidad de usar una tarjeta de prepago. Que compraste con efectivo. No quieres tener estados de cuenta de un banco o de tarjeta de crédito que establezcan un nexo entre tú y lugares en los que “nunca estuviste” o con sitios “que no utilizas”.

7. No uses tu nombre legal

Escoge un nombre. Cualquier nombre. No hay ninguna necesidad de usar tu nombre legal en las redes sociales. Desde luego que PUEDES hacerlo si te sientes cómodo con ello, pero de ninguna forma es obligatorio. Sin embargo, escoge un nombre al que SÍ le prestes atención.

8. Si quieres mantener un secreto, CIERRA LA BOCA

No hables de ello. No presumas, no lo discutas de forma anónima. No le digas a tu mejor amigo, no le digas a tus colegas, no le digas a ese extraño en el bar. Sólo SHHHHH. Deja de hablar.

9. Usa contraseñas robustas

“Contraseña”, “c0ntraseñ@”, “contraseña123”, etc. no son buenas. Usa contraseñas robustas y únicas para cada sitio o servicio. O mejor aún, usa un gestor de contraseñas que las genere automáticamente y que las proteja con una contraseña maestra fuerte.

10. No compartas información con la que puedan identificarte

Si quieres mantener secreto un perfil, no compartas en él información con la que te puedan identificar. Mantén secretos tu lugar de trabajo, tu escuela, tatuajes, y el lunar en tu nalga izquierda; no hay ningún beneficio en compartir estos detalles en una cuenta que no quieres que se pueda ligar a tí.

11. La “negación plausible” es una pésima idea

Si tu seguridad operacional es tan mala que depende de la negación plausible, es casi seguro de que no eres capaz de lograr la negación plausible. Es mejor compartir información falsa desde el principio que poner información verdadera, y luego intentar mentir para encubrir su relación contigo. Si confías en la negación plausible para mantenerte a salvo, estás jodido.

12. Si te reconocen, ya te jodiste

No tengas reuniones clandestinas en lugares que frecuentas en tu vida normal. Basta con que un solo trabajador, o cliente frecuente, etc. te reconozca y te llame por el nombre equivocado para que se rompa tu disfraz. Basta con un comentario inocente a alguien en tu vida normal para que se sepan tus secretos. Escoge un lugar en donde sea poco probable que te reconozcan; vístete de forma diferente a como lo haces normalmente; y no vayas más a ese lugar en tu vida normal si puedes evitarlo.

13. Las coartadas pueden ser útiles, pero son complicadas

Usa tu tarjeta bancaria o compra un boleto del cine o paga por comida en un lugar al que vayas frecuentemente. El problema con muchas coartadas es que dependen de que alguien más mienta por tí, lo cual es una violación del punto número 8. Si vas a construir una coartada, es mejor fabricar evidencia que depender de testimonios falsos.

14. Compartimientos estrictos

La primera regla del Club de la Pelea es, no hables del Club de la Pelea. La segunda regla del Club de la Pelea es, NO HABLES DEL CLUB DE LA PELEA. Esta regla va en ambos sentidos: así como no debes discutir tu vida secreta durante tu vida normal, tampoco debes discutir tu vida normal en tu vida secreta. No lo hagas. Mantenlas completamente separadas; que no se crucen, no hagas alusión a ellas, nada.

15. Mantén la compostura

Si quieres salirte con la tuya y mantener un secreto, debes mantenerte tranquilo. Cuidado con ponerse visiblemente nervioso. No te sonrías cada vez que alguien dice la palabra “secreto”. Controla tus expresiones faciales y tus reacciones a la gente que te rodea. Ten en mente los nombres a los que debes responder en cada situación. Mantén la calma.

16. No seas arrogante

Mantener una identidad requiere de alerta constante. La seguridad personal nunca está garantizada, y esto nunca hay que olvidarlo. La arrogancia lleva al descuido, el descuido lleva a que te descubran.

17. La perfección exige práctica

Ninguna de estas habilidades es innata. Todas requieren de mucha práctica. Puedes darte cuenta que necesitas comenzar desde cero, y comenzar en una hoja en blanco una y otra vez. No hay vergüenza en el fracaso, pero es importante acordarse de que Internet nunca olvida; es mejor errar con cautela y añadir información a medio camino, después de sopesar los riesgos.

Una vez más, aunque esta lista no es de ninguna forma exhaustiva en cuanto a todas las precauciones que podrías tener, y aunque estas precauciones pueden no servir contra adversarios con suficiente tiempo y recursos, son absolutamente útiles y una forma fácil de minimizar el riesgo de acosadores, miembros peligrosos de tu familia, patrones chismosos, e incluso adversarios de bajo nivel del estado. Las redes sociales pueden ser un punto vulnerable para muchos de nosotros, pero a través del manejo cuidadoso de identidades, se puede negar algo de esta inseguridad al mismo tiempo que se mantiene una firme presencia en línea.