CYBER IS FOREVER

A PIECE OF ADVICE | THE WORD PRESS DISCOVER CHALLENGE


For quite a few years, it’s been au courant among America’s youth — and sometimes, not so youth — to spill ones guts on the internet. I share my life, but I’m careful what I say and how I say it. I pick and choose my words and I only publish it if I don’t care who sees it. Hey, I’m retired. I’ll never go job hunting again, apply to a college, or need a government security clearance. I have the only husband I’ll ever need or want.

But you? You’ve got a life to live. Worlds to conquer. The drama you publish on the internet today can — with the click of a mouse — bite you on the ass tomorrow.

google is watching you

Nothing vanishes once it’s “out there” in cyberspace. Everything you write, every comment you make is going to show up on someone’s Google search. In its most harmless form, this stuff gives your friends something to laugh about. No big deal, right? The problem is that this same material is also stuff those who don’t like you can use against you. Easy ways for people to hurt you.

If you are past the age where you give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about you, behave accordingly. But.

If you are still in the job market, pursuing a career or building a business. If you are a teacher or other public servant. Doctor or nurse. Firefighter or cop. If you are looking for work in financial services or require a security clearance. If you are trying to get into graduate school, are in the middle of a divorce (or think you might be in the future). If anyone out there hates you for any reason, think carefully before you vent your feelings online.

do you know who is watching you

Nothing you put on the internet is private, no matter what anyone tells you. I can find posts I wrote twenty years ago which were supposedly private. Newspaper articles in which I am mentioned that were published in The Jerusalem Post more than 30 years ago.

I don’t care because I don’t have to care. But maybe you do.

Here are some of the people who might be Googling you:

  • College admissions officers
  • The police
  • This or some other government
  • The military
  • Potential employers and employees
  • Your former wife or husband … and his or her lawyers
  • Your boss and your boss’s boss
  • Your parole officer
  • Your vindictive neighbor
  • Your meddling in-laws
  • Your children and their teachers
  • Your grandmother
  • Your daughter’s boyfriend
  • Your son’s fiancé
  • Anyone with an ax to grind
  • The manager of the bank from which you are trying to get a mortgage or other financing
  • Your customers
  • A stalker.

If your stuff ever appeared on any social media outlet? It’s only a matter of time before someone who is looking will find it.

So. Be crazy. Be free. Be true to yourself. Rage at the dying of the light. Just don’t publish it.

Unpublished, it’s just a rumor.

Published? You’re busted.

17 thoughts on “CYBER IS FOREVER

    • If it’s on MY site, I just delete it (because I can). Folks need to remember to breathe and not always react with rage. The odds are, you’re gonna feel like a moron in half an hour — at which time you’ll be having trouble remembering what pissed you off — except the damage is already done. So I delete what I can on the theory that if they REALLY want to say that, they’ll come back. So far. everyone has been more than happy to forget it ever happened. WordPress really should address the uneditability of comments. I think a lot of people are sorry they said that — but can’t do anything about it. At the very least, I wish I could fix the typos.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Other peoples dirty linen often makes for good reading. I’m not advising people to put it all out there but we do feel less alone when we see others survive some bad situations.
    Leslie

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    • I don’t mean never tell the truth about your life, but there’s stuff and then … there’s other stuff. Talking about an illness that others may have and benefit from your experience — if it’s not something you want to hide — fine. Your personal drama with you school mates? Boss? Boyfriend? Previous but no longer girlfriend? Bad mouthing people with real names who might just get really pissed off? Lots of dirty talk about anything? Political rants? Some of this stuff in my opinion shouldn’t be aired ANYWHERE, but if you have to blow off steam … don’t do it online. Because the boss you badmouth today may be the one who will make the decision to NOT promote or hire you tomorrow. The college you rant about on Friday may be the one whose master’s program you desperately want to get into next week. Life is funny that way. Everyone needs to be careful what bridges you burn. You may need to cross that river.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always heard that you should occasionally Google yourself to see what’s out there… but since literally thousands and thousands of people share my very common name, that’s almost impossible without including even more detailed information about myself with it. Not that I’m an over-sharer anyway, but if someone’s going to be successful checking up on me, they’ve probably already got access to information that’s out of my control anyway and/or will turn up things about the wrong person (Like how all my Dad’s debts [same name] got tied into my record when I was closing on my house)…

    Like

    • Also, you don’t put really personal stuff up there. Neither do I. We write about our lives, but we are judicious in what we expose.

      There’s a Garry Armstrong in Boston that is a nasty piece of work. Same name spelling, too, which IS unusual, though not exactly rare. We were forever getting calls from his irate girl friends and one memorable time from the I.R.S.

      Our friend, Michael Smith, finally changed his name. He couldn’t stand it anymore.

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      • “1984” 30 years late. The “young ones” that you mention never read George Orwell’s book, or saw the movie and so they haven’t a clue as to what’s happening. Hillary’s one of us.., she should have known better.

        Like

        • She probably DID know better, but figured she’d get away with it … or no one would really care. Truly, I don’t much care, but it was stupid. There’s an awful LOT of stupid going around.

          Just to let you know, Bishop left the building yesterday. He started vomiting uncontrollably and the vet thought it was likely some form of cancer. He was almost 15.

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