Think about it, everything you do online is digitally preserved somewhere and maybe duplicated a thousand or more times all over the world. Maybe I’m exaggerating here. However the point remains that when I was a teenager what I did was not preserved digitally, only in peoples memories maybe… that can be somewhat unreliable with time, but still it is not black and white for someone today to look at and read and judge using today’s norms as their yard-post. When things, particularly concerning a persons actions are digitally preserved, think that often the context for these actions may be lost. So even if the actions may not have been perceived as really bad at the time.. maybe necessary given the circumstances, later, in a new context…..
There is an amazing discussion going on in LinkedIn Privacy Professionals right now on the “Right to be Forgotten”. Many lawyers are in there along with persons that work in the space of services that can erase your past. It is extremely interesting and thought provoking. I think you only have access if you are a member of this group. In any case points discussed include:
Teenagers that say something damaging/disparaging on another person;
Teenagers that may do something that causes someone else to post embarrassing pictures or things about them online;
Persons wrong arrested for crimes and then being reported in media;
Public figures that erase their past in order to protect their future.
One argument that I very much concur with is that in fact what is perceived as “embarrassing” or damaging today, probably will not in the future, as the younger generation that have grown up in this social media world become normalised to what accepted as “good” or “bad” behaviour. I wrote an article on this in the Hindu (2009) on this. In where I was even bold enough to claim that in the future it will be more damaging to have no online presence than a bad online presence, when today’s generation grow up to be tomorrow’s head-hunters. This means that the need to “erase our digital past” is transitory as one discussant in the forum believed.
Much to think about and contemplate. Check out this article in Forbes on “erasing our past online” and think a little more 😉