Of course there are many delightful things about social media. Its so much more than Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The rise of new collaborative platforms is transforming the way we create art, the way we support the arts, the way we do business… In this ‘digital age’, there is near unanimous agreement on digital literacy as a good, with many calling for increased emphasis in digital literacy in schools; Learning how to code is almost as important as learning how to read.
But there is a conspicuous lack of awareness of how to manage one’s digital persona. The internet has become a diary in which we record our every moment. It is precise, it is public, it is permanent. We should run away in fear! Or at the very least, when forced to engage with it present the very best of ourselves, calculated in our every move. Instead, for most of us, we wouldn’t think twice about venting our anger on Twitter, expressing thoughtless opinions on Facebook, posting incriminating photos of friends. This can have unwelcome effects of the immediate kind, like causing you to become victim of crime. But it can also have negative effects of a more enduring nature. The internet is a catalogue of our most embarrassing moments, abusive remarks, impulsive retorts. As a more eloquent writer describes: “the digitisation of our lives have given our youthful misdemeanours permanence we cannot avoid”.
Every body makes mistakes. We do not define individuals by the things they said 10 years ago. But the internet never forgets.