Everything I Write Is Dumb

21 May

On the internet, things last forever. My Facebook posts from 2007? Still there. The posts I started this blog with in 2012? Still there. Thank goodness I wasn’t active on LiveJournal back in 2004, otherwise I’m sure that would still be there too. Every awkward moment of my adolescence, every stupid assumption I made, every youthful complaint about some teenage boy – it’s all online, free for the finding.

People get ripped apart for the smallest thing, these days. People lose their jobs for things they post on social media all the time.

I keep my social media pretty tame: my Facebook and Instagram are very PG, and I very rarely Tweet. But I have this blog. And I try to write things that are real and true about my life – except for that’s really hard to do when you’re terrified not only that your boss could find it, but that, even worse, your boss decades from now could find it. When I’m in my 40s, I’ll surely find everything I write now to be inane, misinformed and annoying. What if some future potential employer pulls up some stupid post I wrote when I was 24 (what if it’s this one???) and then decides to not give me a job?

Of course, it’s not just the professional concerns. I still have the journals I kept almost daily from 5th to 12th grade. I know how much of an idiot I sound like 10-15 years down the road. “He sat next to me on the school bus today and our knees touched!” They’re almost painful to re-read, and I am quite glad they’re not Google-able. If I had been blogging those, some new friend I met today could start reading my blog and go far enough back in time to decide that I was a crazy person and they never wanted to talk to me again. When you’re reading something, it’s easy to forget to take a peek at the date stamp and give a person some credit for what they may have learned in the intervening years. The internet is a perpetual present. Heck, when the new host of the Daily Show was named, the media immediately went back six years in his Twitter feed, long before he was a public figure, to find some jokes he made that were in bad taste.

I don’t really expect to ever be a public figure – although I do look forward to the first presidential campaign in which both candidates had a MySpace in their middle school years – so I don’t worry too much about the entire public hunting the web for stupid things they can quote me as saying. But I want to write books. What if I write something that manages to be pretty successful – will thousands of strangers then somehow get their hands on some ridiculous email questionnaire I filled out in sixth grade?

Facebook has this new feature where they’ll show you the posts you made on that date in past years. It’s fun – but it’s kind of painful to see what I decided everyone I knew needed to be updated on junior year of high school. Maybe that’s what has made me extra aware of online permanence in the last few weeks: I had completely forgotten writing any of those updates, they just read like they were written by a naïve 16-year-old, which they were. But she was me.

I’m trying to figure out how to strike a balance between writing, and writing about things that matter, when I know that I’m just going to roll my eyes at all of it a few years down the road.

Fellow bloggers: how do you deal with the fact that your ramblings will live on? Do you worry about future professional ramifications or just personal embarrassment?

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5 Responses to “Everything I Write Is Dumb”

  1. Invisible Mikey May 21, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    LOL – I just try not to ramble. In other words, re-read everything carefully before publishing. I don’t worry about dumb in general, only the kind that people start lawsuits about. If you put out any kind of opinion about your boss, co-workers etc. the behavior is dumb on a cosmic scale, and you deserve whatever problems it causes. Keep it in your own head where Big Brother can’t see.

    Also, I don’t “do” EgoBook or the Twit parade…

  2. D.I. Ozier May 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    You’re exactly right that all people should be cognizant of what information by and about them is available on line, since it can seriously hurt you in professional contexts. For example, at the literary agencies and publishing houses I’ve worked at, authors who pass the first round of querying and gain the interest of an agent or editor ALWAYS end up getting Googled. There have been a few unlucky people whose work ends up getting rejected because of an unprofessional web presence.

  3. autumnkovachak May 21, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Hmm, very thought provoking. I’ve considered going back and deleting a bunch of pictures and status updates from years ago. I wonder if FB will ever create a batch clearing system. I know many people would appreciate that. That’s the problem with social media – it doesn’t allow you to evolve into someone else. Those were your thoughts at one point but maybe not anymore and that’s ok. Hopefully we’ve all been maturing and therefore we have a right to not be haunted by our past. I’m not too worried about ramifications by what I’ve said only personal embarrassment and possible idea-copying. I use my blog as a creative outlet and do hope to gather my ideas into the form of a play or book someday. However, I don’t think I’ve said anything too profound yet…

    • Stacking Twenties May 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

      Yeah, I don’t think I’ve written anything racist/sexist/homophobic or otherwise offensive (I hope I haven’t), but it’s just weird to think that everything I’ve ever typed online is just out there, floating around.

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