It strikes me as a little odd that people who put their profiles up online on social websites--from Facebook to the ultra-exclusive aSmallWorld to the now ghetto-looking Hi5--get all bent out of shape over having their profiles available to be googled. I understand the argument which some espouse saying that privacy should take precedence over accessibility in some situations, but I also think that users are not media retards that need paternalistic protection over all things digital.
We should be responsible for our own online actions and should not depend on third parties to guarantee our privacy. Doing so throws the issue of our own personal accountability into sharp relief, because after all, isn’t the whole purpose of placing yourself out there on the Net an exercise aimed at connecting with others and elevating your professional presence? Who else does this depend on but ourselves? I know that for me at least, being easily googled is an online virtue I’m still working hard at.
Learning to navigate the Web and creating a space for yourself online is a skill that should be learned and perfected by anyone who has access to the Internet. Truth is, privacy is no longer a right but a privilege. If, for example, you’ve had a life of hard knocks and fear your personal details will filter through to or end up splashed on the pages of blogs and websites around the world, then do something about it. Go out there and create the online image you want for yourself. It’s never been easier or quicker. You are in control, and if skillfully executed, a carefully nurtured online persona is an investment that will do wonders for your career. The digital medium allows you to mold and sway the opinions of those around you for your own benefit--if you learn how to do this right. After all, online conversation is currency these days.
No doubt, at this point in the rapidly-evolving world of digital media, each and every one of us is 100% responsible for our own imprint on the Web, whether we like this or not. The Internet is no more different now in this regard than say, print or television, with the exception that with the Web, we can actually intervene if something pops ups that we take issue with--and we can do so in real time. It is standard knowledge in contemporary PR that nothing is off the record. Celebrities and socialites know this better than anyone, and have their publicists on a 24/7 online watch. Is someone putting up vicious posts defaming your character? Respond. Take action. Sue even. But don’t let it be, and don’t blame the search engines. We must not only be vigilant, we must be active in creating and shaping the kind of digital profile we want for ourselves--one that accurately reflects our passions, fears, and accomplishments. Feel like burning someone online yourself? What the heck, go ahead and do that too--just know that you are responsible for the choices you make online.