What happens to the way we share when the Internet has a problem forgetting? What happens to our sense of identity when we have to be so careful and crafty about every little thing we post? On the one hand, people adapt and take on a kind of social media identity, like speaking a new language. On the other hand, the culture causes some to opt out and lay low like hiding in a basement until the storm passes.
I don’t blame them. “Up to 70% of employers who have used LinkedIn say they’ve chosen not to hire a person based on what they’ve found out about them online” (Forbes, see Reference). My friend has a name that coincides with a porn star’s—nothing against porn stars—and she’s a dance teacher running her own dance production. The recommendation (also by Forbes) is to leave no room for mistakes—i.e., “look for ways to differentiate yourself”—which some people have to consider these days.
(The Latest Trend For Bridesmaids Is To Pull Up Their Dresses And Show Off Their Butts: http://lockerdome.com/6170040227613505/6739434813140244)
Now say an employer Googles the name of an applicant and finds that five years ago she was involved in a scandal case the ruling of which dubbed her completely innocent. Still, this case becomes an impeding factor working against her favor until it is completely stricken from Internet search results, which likely is never because of ingenious caching mechanisms comprised as components of advanced Internet search algorithms. This is a hypothetical that we commonly see in actual instances. It is mentioned in blogs, essays, and commentaries; how are we called to relook at ‘forgiveness’ in this digital age?
On the other side of the spectrum we take a look at user behavior online. This gripping short was introduced to us in a grad communications course. We follow a coming of age teenager as his relationship slides into a digital ditch. Oh, and the entire 17-minute movie takes place on a computer screen. The short does an outstanding job presenting a story and how relationships carry on over the Internet, and in this case, how one can unravel amid social media. It also offers another glimpse at the Internet backscratcher analogy and how we best think before we click.
A suggestion to employers: don’t overreact. Digging up bachelor weekend photos from a potential future employee doesn’t amount to much these days. If they currently make sexy videos on the side, that’s another thing.
The perennial reminder to all of us: if it’s private, it ain’t for posting. We’re warned that Snapchat, in spite of its ‘auto-erase’ functionality, can be hacked if the receiver uses a third-party application to save the incoming photos and videos. On different mediums I step out first to admit that I constantly have to learn about privacy the hard way. A simple analogy: the Internet places a million metal back-scratchers at our ready. Upon the slightest ‘itch’ we are encouraged to ‘scratch it’–i.e., take a picture, share it, allow so-and-so app to access it forever and ever. Knowing when to scratch and when to let a needless urge go away could turn up a useful skill in this generation. We’re in it together in this journey to digital fluency. We will—and we must—adapt and become smarter, more cognizant participants of social media lest the Internet fall in on itself, or fall prey to red-eyed digital bandits.
Ambrose, M. L. (2012). Seeking digital redemption: the future of forgiveness in the internet age. ExpressO. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/meg_ambrose/1.
Berkowitz, J. (2013). You need to see this 17-minute film set entirely on a teen’s computer screen. Fast Company. Retrieved from http://www.fastcocreate.com/3017108/you-need-to-see-this-17-minute-film-set-entirely-on-a-teens-computer-screen.
Hamlin, R. (2011, January 14). Forgiveness might still be possible in the digital age, but how do we forget? HuffPost: Religion. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-hamlin/forgiveness-might-still-b_b_808198.html.
Hamilton, D. (2011, September 29). The virtue of forgiveness, not forgetting, in the digital age. Divinia Hamilton Blog. Retrieved from http://daviniahamilton.com/2011/09/29/the-virtue-of-forgiveness-not-forgetting-in-the-digital-age/.
Jacobs, D. L. (2013, May 17). How an online reputation can hurt your job hunt. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/05/17/how-an-online-reputation-can-hurt-your-job-hunt/.
O’Brien, J. (2014, May 11). Snapchat not sexting-safe, cops warn. Toronto Sun: London Free Press. Retrieved from http://www.torontosun.com/2014/05/11/snapchat-not-sexting-safe-cops-warn.