rethinking internet identity

So I’ve given some time to thinking about the issues of internet identity.  In a world where we all seem to use the internet and the world inside our computers than outside it, I felt like as I approach the time where I’ll be interviewing and looking for full employment, making sure my internet presence is what I want it to be is essential.

And of course we should all be concerned about this: this article in 2007 demonstrates that people are looking at Facebook, MySpace, and now Twitter and other social media sites just to see who we are… and keep in mind that’s three years ago.  I wonder how much that’s changed now.

Newsweek this week published an article pertaining to the closing of the gap between the internet world and the real world based on Mark Zuckerberg’s push open the internet as broadly as possible, believing (and I paraphrase here) that the shadow of our digital and flesh selves should be as small as possible.  He says it should encourage people to see that everyone does foolish things, and will liberalize society a little.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but I do believe in being open, if only for the sake of consistency.

I’ve been a proponent of this since I started working with college students at Gannon and would see how pictures of parties wherein students who were underage would show how much they drank to the Facebook world, and then would make sure that their parents didn’t see the pictures by either not being friends with them, or just selectively hiding photos.  Beside the fact that a future employer will potentially see the photo, what’s the point in doing something if you can’t let everyone know?  Moreover, if you can’t let your parents see something, why put it on Facebook or MySpace in the first place?  In other words, you may as well be consistent, because in the end that inconsistency will catch up with you.  At the best, you get a stern lecture from your parents.  At the worst, you won’t get your dream job because you made some serious missteps.

So I’ve tried to be proactive in my Internet identity.  If you go to my main website you’ll see all of my web presence – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et cetera.  All there for my employer, my friends, my next date, and my parents to see.  It’s on my business card.  You can even get to this blog from there.  And sure, you’ll see a picture of me drinking a beer or two at a Clippers game, but as far as I’m concerned I’d rather live in such a way that if my potential employer saw me anywhere, he or she would feel comfortable hiring me.  Never mind the Christological implications of being the same person wherever you are.

I’d encourage all of you who are in similar boats as I am to take a serious look at your web presence and determine if it’s a reflection of the person you want to be.  You never know who’s going to see it.