Before you share anything in an electronic format—an email, a photo, a blog post, etc.—ask yourself if you would be comfortable with it showing up whenever anyone Googles your name. Forever. Potential viewers include the colleges you’ll apply to, friends, your family, future employers, and people you haven’t met yet but will one day want to date.
Last Friday, a Whole Foods worker who was at best disgruntled and at worst, well, a little deranged, penned a 2000-word resignation letter loaded with anger, personal insults, and gems like,
“Oh, you actually think being 20 minutes late matters? You know Whole Foods Market is just a grocery store, right?”
At some point, someone will unearth the author’s name. And that means that for the rest of his/her life, there will be no escaping it. That letter will be his/her online legacy. Google will never forget, even when other people do.
Can you even imagine the long term damage that’s going to carry for the writer? How long will that person have to regret hitting “Send”?
I’m not suggesting that a 2000-word tirade is the same as one Tweet or a Facebook photo. But today’s high school students are the digital generation. You live in a reality where people have been humiliated, fired, divorced, sued, and even prosecuted because of things they or other people have posted online.
Be protective of your online legacy. I don’t have to answer for anything I said or did way back when I was sixteen. Today’s students won’t necessarily have the same luxury.