Why What You Say Online Will Matter Now and Forever

What's Your Digital Footprint Look Like?
What's Your Digital Footprint Look Like?

Technology is a wonderful thing. In this past decade, we’ve seen the world continue to change at an increasingly fast pace. Gadgets and the internet have successfully penetrated our lives and become an integral part of communication, information and life in general. Our generations may be the last to remember what I like to call “simpler times;” Times before Facebook, Google and even cell phones.

We’re mostly addicted to these converging mediums, and there are an increasingly smaller number of people that can’t answer a question like, “what’s a tweet?” All of this technological integration may be great for the adopters, but for the shortsighted- not so much. As we run unbounded in this new landscape, our digital footprints leave a distinct path. Where the tracks point can have lasting implications for your relationships, careers and even your legacy as a person.

Consider this: If you wanted to learn about a distant relative, your best bet would be government documents, historical records and if you’re lucky, family tales. Websites like Ancestory.com make millions of dollars trying to help you put a face to a name on family tree. Even with all of these tools at your feet, it’s unlikely you’ll ever know much about who that person was. We as people are excellent at filling in the blanks and idolizing and romanticizing what is actually unknown. 100 years from now, I’m willing to bet there will be little left to the imagination. Great-grandchildren will see exactly what you were up to, the people you associated with and the times you had; both pleasant and unpleasant.

Now some may say “so what?” Is it such a bad thing to break down the walls between obscurities and facts? Though we all like to imagine our privacy settings prevent us from being snooped on, it’s certainly not the case. Data is floating around all over the globe, stored on computers and servers forever and there’s not a thing you can do to prevent it from existing, short of disconnecting from the world. Companies are even being created try pry open your life and expose your true self to prospective employers. The loose ends of conversations and actions can be pieced together across a multitude of websites to create a comprehensive look at who you are. Buyers beware; don’t post things that you wouldn’t want everyone to see. And by everyone, I mean family, friends, employers, children ect (here’s a great example of a girl who ranted about her parents on Facebook and her consequences). It’s best to think twice before saying or doing anything that is unbecoming of the legacy you want left behind. I suppose that’s a good life lesson in general, but now the stakes are higher.