Every once in a while, I get a text from an old high school friend, not saying hello, not saying they miss me but rather sending a more than embarrassing image of me, brace-face and all, from the depths of my Facebook page saying "lol remember when you looked like this?" Yes, Sammy, thanks to the permanency of the Internet, I will always remember.
Knowing what I know now, I wish I could hop into a time machine and warn my past self of the Internet's dangerous potential. Or even better, I wish I could go back even FURTHER and stall the invention of the Internet, at least until I hit puberty. With the knowledge of my name and access to the Internet, anyone can see the harsh reality that was my middle-school awkward stage. Of course, the permanency of the internet has its benefits. It enables you to rediscover long lost memories that can help rekindle an old friendship. But the depth of this digital archive can be very unforgiving. If a mistake is made over the Internet, it is not forgotten. Ctrl-Alt-Dlt all you want. That embarrassing snapchat of you at the fraternity’s Christmas party is not going anywhere. This unforgiving reality has cost people their jobs as well as their credibility. Take Kathy Griffin for example. Her bold enactment involving Trump's severed head was soon realized to be out of line, but removing this vulgar image from the public did not remove the plethora of screenshots and saves. Due to this viral slip-up, Kathy Griffin lost her job with CNN.
Thankfully, my past self was pretty tame and not too politically opinionated, so my old posts and pictures are pretty harmless to the public, but due to their cringey nature, they're pretty harmful to me. In present day, I am definitely cautious with what I allow to be posted under my name. Colleges, recruiters and potential future bosses can access my social medias in an instant with just one search. Unless your name is "John Smith", assume your posts can be easily scouted. This PG standard can be difficult to maintain. There are many times I've wanted to rant to my Twitter followers and use some PG-13 choice words but haven't due to possible destruction of my reputation.
The Internet can be seen to resemble a petty 17 year-old girl. You can tell it gossip, in "private messages" or "vanishing snapchats", and beg it to keep quiet. But, it won't, because what would be the fun in that?
Kat Nance, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Knowing that nothing can truly be deleted off the internet, think back to a time when you started using social media. Would your approach to social media be different if you were starting over?