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.
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.
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.