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Friday, June 16, 2006
Reflections of yourself
Growing up, my mother always told me that people would judge you by the friends you kept.

But these days, it's not just the friends we keep upon which we are judged but how we present ourselves--not only in person, but on-line. With the magical power of Google, you can find out a lot about a person if you're so inclined to look.

A lot of employers these days are running Google checks on prospective hires, to find out more about these potential employees before they're hired to become part of the team. Sure, they may look good on paper, dress well and slam-dunk the interview, but with a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse, you can find out a lot about a person. If they have a blog, a MySpace account or this new FaceBook thing all the cool kids are trying (I have yet to jump on that bandwagon, but I hear it's really, really cool), then the entire world potentially has the ability to find out who and what you are like when you're not all dressed up, minding your p's and q's.

Which knowing that, I'm still stunned at some of the information and sides of the personality some people display on-line. Even warnings about how it could cost you a professional opportunity or a potential friendship or romantic relationship don't seem to have deterred some people from what they present about themselves on-line.

Sure, it's funny to have a blog or MySpace account full of drunken revelry and half-nekkid pictures of yourself, but what does this say about you? And how much information is too much information to be out there on the Net? Are there some things the entire world doesn't really need to know?

Couple that with the latest uproar over some pictures of Julia Corker, the 18-year-old daughter of Senate candidate Bob Corker that have cirucluted on-line the past couple of days. In case you missed the debate, Wonkette posted two photos of Ms. Corker--one of her kissing another woman presumably at some party and another one with her dancing in her undies, presumbly at the same or another party.

The debate has erupted over whether or not these are photos have any news value beyond the basic "woo-hoo, chicks kissing and dancing in their underwear" value.

After seeing the photos and reading a couple of local and national bloggers' opinion, I'm still left with one huge overriding question--what the hell does this really have to do with Corker's run for the Senate?

Do these photos mean that Corker is any more or less qualified to represent Tennessee should he be elected? My answer is, no, not really.

If anything, I feel a good bit of sympathy for Ms. Corker. I mean, yes she's out in public at a party and she should, probably, know better as my good friend Katherine Coble points out. But you know, how many of us haven't made a youthful indescrition or two in our time. I know I've made at least one or two and all I can say is--thank God digital cameras and MySpace pages weren't around back then for the stupid stuff I did to be instantly shared and preserved for future generations to see on-line if they only type in a few key words to a Google search.

I often wonder how some of these young adults of today are going to feel twenty years from now when they can't delete the damn MySpace or Facebook account becuase they've forgotten the password and now it's telling the whole world how they got totally blitzed Friday night and hooked up with some hottie at a party and if only they could remember his or her name, that would totally rock. Gonna be kind of hard to really take the moral high ground with the kids when your youthful indescritions are there on-line for the entire world to say.

It's kind of the same question I have about the participants in the Girls Gone Wild and Guys Gone Wild series. I mean, OK so you flashed the camera and got beads. Good for you and thanks for sharing. But I just wonder how that desire to have the most beads ever is going to haunt you for years to come. And I'm assuming the participants have to sign some kind of waiver so there's little or no recourse to get you removed from the video--or heaven forbid they use you in the ads to sell these products late at night.

We can get so upset about personal information being published on-line (and rightfully so. I certainly don't want the whole Internet to know where I live, how much money I make or how I like to eat my Oreo cookies*) but sometimes I wonder if we miss the forest for the trees. We worry about personal things like name, rank and serial number, which don't get me wrong are important, but we often forget that what we say and how we present ourselves to the on-line world is just as important.

That is, until we learn a hard lesson about the cold hard truth of the world--whether it be getting turned down by that potential date, passed over for a new job or something like what Julia Corker is now facing. It's a privacy issue, yes. But it still doesn't mean we weren't a bit blockheaded to put ourselves in the situation to being with.


* I like to twist off the top of the Oreo, eat the creamy filling and then crunch down the chocolate parts, in case you were wondering.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/16/2006 09:29:00 PM | |
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