Due to the magnificent power of the brain to edit, file and misplace information for the survival of the main host, the vast majority of my youthful foibles and follies are but memories shared by a few and forgotten by most.
The current generation will not be so fortunate I fear. I wonder how it will feel in 20 or 30 years time when the indelible print of a Facebook timeline and twitter posts, flickr uploads and even early Myspace (what?) profiles, continue to drag behind them like the chains of Jacob Marley’s ghost?
I can’t help wondering how everyone is going to feel about this as, along with bad tattoo and body piercing decisions, the social internet seems to be one of the 21st Century curses and blessings (perhaps) for the younger generation.
I mean, I “know” some of the shit I got up to in my teens and in college but apart from a few blurry photos in some shoeboxes somewhere there is no hard evidence that any of it happened. Thanks to the internet however, everything can and will be held against you in perpetuity and, in some cases, may even be admissible in court.
At the very least we now live in an age where every potential partner can check up on their significant other in detail through the internet.
Sure, you might say, so I won’t have a facebook or twitter account; won’t write any blogs and definitely won’t post pictures of myself hardcore steaming at that beach party in July where someone broke out the sambuca flamers. Good idea perhaps but someone somewhere will have a cameraphone and hey presto your indiscretions are public news… tagged, catalogued, recorded, instantly FOREVER!!!
And even if this doesn’t happen, I’ve noticed that with job interviews of late people are asking you about whether you have any blogs online, what your interests are, etc. and you can be damn sure they are gonna check it out as soon as you leave the room. Now, put yourself in their place when they discover that, as far as the social network of the universe is concerned, you ‘do not exist’. You have succeeded in having zero presence on the net. In that case, why? You must be a) a terrorist b) have something to hide or, even worse, c) have no friends and are incredibly unpopular, anti-social and potentially a psychopath who will kill them, all their employees and their families.
Perhaps - perhaps not BUT, there is no doubting the increasing power of expectation for engagement in technology we expect from each other.
In a western society where it seems that everyone has smart phones, internet access, etc. we cannot fail to be suspicious of those who are “different” - those who choose for whatever reason to not behave “like us” and share our lives with the world.
Some friends of mine VLog their lives and travels on an almost daily basis. It is interesting in many ways and yet somehow invasive and narcissistic in others and yet there are millions of people out there doing the same. On one hand I really admire their openness and yet on the other I know I could never do the same; I cling to my privacy with relish and, as i said before, I am so, so happy that my youth is mine and my friends alone to remember and share.
Having been negative, it may seem, about the whole social aspect of the internet, you might well ask, “Hey jerk, well why the hell are you on Tumblr?”. Well, the answer is simply that I love the internet and I love the exchange of ideas, rants, politics, LOLcats and memes as much as the next person. I love the sense of immortalilty it gives to expression that not even the writing of books in the past ever offered the average person. I relish the democracy and freedoms it provides and just wish I could live for many centuries to see where it all ends as, in my humble opinion, I think that the greatest gift it provides is an uncensored window to the world and humanity.
Which is why, to conclude this rather long post, I hope people protect themselves through the gift of partial anonymity it can provide. Honesty and openness are essential in an intimate relationship but can be disastrous when given blindly to friends and scoundrels alike.
Young folk, listen to this old fool - share your thoughts freely but guard your souls jealously.
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