Our lifestyles are quite public in this day and age. We post photos from the most mundane activities on Facebook, sharing photos from our mobile phones without a second thought. We write blog posts, offering up a snapshot of our current mental position on every topic imaginable, from politics to marketing. With Facebook shifting from a private network by default to that of a public network, we all stand shocked at what is to come.
An onslaught of public information.
As if we didn’t already have enough. Twitter really changed the game, giving us the liberty to share our thoughts on everything. Literally. And it’s only a matter of time until these tiny vibrations of permanent thought come back to bite us in the rear end. Over time people change, and our technology will undoubtedly have to change with it.
There will be a backlash of public content sharing, eventually. But the timing and the experience of it all remain huge variables in the grand scheme of things. There’s no telling when we as a population will tire of the constant archiving of so many aspects of our lives. and the technology that facilitates such sharing is becoming more cooperative, working with each other in order to access us at any point during the day, whether it be on the computer or through our cell phones.
Every once in a while, though, we’d rather forget about that article we wrote about Google, and untagging photos from that weekend in Cabo just won’t cut it. We may even get to the point where we’d like to start from scratch, kind of like hitting the “unfollow all” button on our Twitter account.
What really brings this concern to light is the current era of digital awareness as it enables virtual replications of our offline social interactions. What this boils down to is the fact that a generation has now been born into our digital age, having access to all the modern concepts and implementations of such virtual replications. Even before they are born, some of our children get Twitter and Facebook accounts. We create blogs around our child’s development, placing them in the accessible public eye before they can even use the two they’re born with.
From a social development standpoint, there are number of positives that can be associated with allowing our children to participate in social technology. And there are several safety downfalls, but my concern as addressed in this article has to do with the longterm effects of having one’s life archived on the Internet.
There are a few things to consider, such as the longevity of a given web service and its ability to produce searchable archives of your uploaded content ten or twenty years from now. That’s something we have very little experience with, so few conclusions can be made about an individual’s actual permanance on the web.
Recent history has suggested that technological advances mean very little in our own ability to archive our personal histories, as we’ve moved from handheld camcroders requiring a VCR for viewing purposes to live-streaming from our mobile cell phones, requiring nothing else but Internet access and the correct drives for viewing a posted video clip. Quaint paper and pen remain the most trustworthy forms of recording our histories, as technology changes quickly and doesn’t often include retro-graded support for 5 year-old technology.
Seriously. Do you still have a VCR and do you ever use it? And what about that DVD that’s collecting dust in your family room? There’s no telling what methods of archving we will adopt over the next five years, so there’s still a huge unknown regarding the future access our children will have to the blogs we created upon their birth.
That also means that we are still uncertain of how potential educators and employers will treat our life-long web presence–how deep will they dig, an what will they consider to be adverse enough behavior to prevent us from receiving a scholarship or a job?
What I’m saying is that a backlash will eventually come, and it will come from two ends–the consumers and the service providers. Consumers will recognize the long-term effects of having photos, blogs and comments accessible on the web, making both achievements and mistakes an inescapable part of their past. Companies like Facebook will have to re-create their definition of what it means to be private on the web, rolling out new kinds of data clean up, privacy protection and automated monitoring towards an individual’s online reputation.
In the meantime, I recommend heeding the already prevalent advice of remaining wary of what you share on your various social networking profiles. You may not even realize how worthwhile this is in the end.