The first blog I read was “Personal Branding in the Age of Google.” Naturally I immediately googled my name.
I was disappointed.
I found that I could be an actor, felon, or possibly British. Since none of those were correct I added more details like my state of residence, middle initial, and finally my middle name.
As it turns out, I pop up on two websites; the first is a birth records index from California, and the second is my dearly departed grandmother’s genealogy project from 2003.
In other words, lesson 1, I don’t really exist.
The second article explained why this wasn’t such a bad thing.
“Controlling Your Public Appearance” affirmed that the lack of information was due primarily to how I’ve managed my digital presence over the last few years. My facebook is on lockdown, twitter is hardly used, and my ancient myspace, if it currently exists at all, was at least somewhat tasteful. Lesson 2, you have the (modest) power to be a nonentity.
If, someday, my facebook became a matter of public knowledge, I can rest assured that the only new information anyone will figure out (aside from that already available through my two search results) is that I have liberal leanings. That is (currently) not a crime, nor is it (currently) a bar to participating in public life. Lesson 3, some things are best left unsaid.
The “Digital Tattoo” was fun and interesting, but I need to put up two more lessons so here goes. Lesson 4, there’s no right way to exist digitally. There’s not really a wrong way either. Sending your account information to a Nigerian Prince or trusting a bombshell blonde you just met on facebook with your social security number are outright dumb, and dumb things are generally bad, but just as bad is refusing to exist digitally at all. This thought leads me to lesson 5; badges, likes, and upvotes are the cheapest way to get people to reveal things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t mention. Want an honest assessment of a person’s internet habits? Make a quiz and hand out badges, it’s like gold stars for first graders but it’s cheaper and gets more results.