I am forever grateful that I’m old enough to have not had social media as a teen. I had a LiveJournal, forums and MMORPGs. Due to the slowness of internet in the early 2000’s though, most everything was text based. I was exceptionally late to both MySpace and Facebook, being much more interested in online game communities.
What brings this to mind is that, on occasion, I will open an incognito window with a non-associated internet connection and search for myself to make sure that any prospective collaborator isn’t stumbling upon some piece of uncomfortable history. And there, on the second page of the search, was a Facebook post from 2013 congratulating people for becoming committee members of a university club. Not embarrassing at all, but also not something I necessarily want strangers knowing.
(Also interesting is that my current profile at Zhejiang University is nowhere to be found while my archived profile for The University of Adelaide is in number 1 position. Their SEO strategy must be fantastic.)
I know I wrote plenty of now-embarrassing things on the internet from ages 10-20 but, thankfully, I was also exceptionally paranoid and kept most things moderately anonymous. I worry for children and teens now though. People who, because their parents had no qualms sharing every cute (stupid/crass/uninformed/naive) thing their child did, will have to live a life where their digital footprint starts as a newborn.