Your digital legacy: we know your wild past won't forget, but who doesn't?

Image by Steve Carroll

We already got the message. Twenty-somethings of today, I suspect, are already careful about their presences online. We were coming to professional age when we were first joining social networks.

But the conversations seems to be ongoing.

The Economist magazine has released its annual forecast for the coming year, and, among their predictions, the U.K. politics magazine says 2009 may be a year in which the social networking phenomenon will reach critical mass: hurting security, employability and socializing.

Hear their audio and my thoughts below.

I don’t know anyone my age who isn’t already aware of these dangers, that for journalists your online presence is your brand. Many make use of privacy settings, and some, like myself, try to develop strictly professional presences online, even Facebook – which I didn’t join until after I graduated university, so my unprofessional pictures never made it online with the same wave as they did for others.

Brian James Kirk, a real all-purpose multimedia journalist and buddy of mine, wrote on the subject back in July:

Maybe it’s a guilty conscience that makes me want to re-write the rulebook on hiring. I think employers are smart for searching out their employees to recognize whether or not their lifestyle will fit in at the office. But, I think that this social-network fear-mongering stifles creativity. Especially considering the field that we’re in; Do hiring journalists really care about seeing that someone has personality outside the office? [Source]

So, while I think the Economist is a bit late in calling for recognition of this digital legacy, particularly for journalists, I do wonder how it might affect younger people. While Facebook wasn’t even a reality until I was in college, high schoolers, and some younger, are using it, MySpace and others.

Those are a many years of immature, foolish action with more and more ways to record it and upload it and promote it online. At 16, you just might not know or be concerned about what it is you want to do.

If 2009 isn’t the year of realization of the “perils of sharing,” I think 2013 might be the year of purging the sharing.

Image courtesy of the Economist.

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