Privacy issues concerning our lives online is a recurring topic these days. Companies are mining our digital information and behaviors for a variety of uses from benign to downright intrusive. I tend to find many of the marketing efforts that track my activity to be annoying and find myself less inclined to purchase an item after being harangued repeatedly on subsequent web pages to buy the product. But this is only one of the ways that the internet can intrude on our privacy and affect our lives.

The internet didn’t become mainstream until I was in my thirties. I’ve always been conscious about what I’ve put out there and sensed that Big Brother was on point since day one. But even as adults, I think we get too comfortable and let down our defenses. A case in point is a good friend of mine who was in a position of power, hosting a job board in a major metropolitan area. A young, new job seeker contacted her, requesting to be connected to her contacts. My friend made the fatal error of responding in a terribly unprofessional way, responding in an email that this young woman had no business having access to these highly valuable contacts. A transcript of the email and a resulting business industry article can be found here. The young woman went public with the email and pretty much destroyed my friend’s career. She was forced to return a prestigious award she had won and subsequently removed all presence of herself online. Had this event happened pre-internet, there wouldn’t have been much in the way of repercussions. But due to the viral nature of the internet, this incident became massively well know almost instantly. My husband texted me from his work asking if I had seen it.

So the lesson is, whatever you commit to the digital arena, think twice about how it could be used and or appropriated. If its something written, are you willing to stand behind it in a VERY public way? If it’s an image, is it something your grandmother would approve of? Google yourself. Are you good with what you find? Whatever we put “out there” stays out there. What kind of a digital legacy are you creating?

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