Here’s an early Halloween story for you:
I Googled myself a few days ago.
Whoa! Wait! Don’t stop reading!
I’ve recently been looking for a new job, and had read an article about how some prospective employers want to try to get a sense of who you are by looking online. And why shouldn’t they? It’s on the internet – it’s fair game and public information. So with a deep breath and a few quick key strokes, I typed ‘Ryan Almodovar’ into the Google Search bar, the most perfect piece of question-answering technology and made up bull-crap this planet has ever known.
The results were shocking. My entire life is on the internet. Things I’ve written on my personal blog, Being Latino articles, LinkedIn profiles, the MySpace that I forgot even existed – all had found its way into the search results. There was even a link to a tweet – not even an important tweet or anything like that. It literally read, “Don’t know if I’m more excited about Dark Knight Rises or Arkham City.” So any stranger that happens to search my name will know just how much of a Batman nerd I am. Probably shouldn’t tell that to the ladies.
As I frantically went from website to website, trying to take stock of exactly what was on here and which settings I’d be changing to ‘private’ later, it occurred to me just how much of ourselves that we put out for the world to see. In the name of social media, the desire to network and gain new connections, we willingly open up our lives. Granted, the majority of it is just nominal, basic stuff, but in some way it is a window into who I am and it’s available to anyone with an internet connection.
It is true that technically an employer can’t discriminate against you based on what you post online, though I’d be willing to bet that the troubles the situation may cause you, would make you just want to quit your job anyway. There are other ways that your online presence can betray you, even if you post something seemingly innocuous. I went to school with a girl that appeared online in a photo titled ‘Drunken Pirate’ – while holding a red ‘Solo’ cup and wearing a pirate hat. She didn’t necessarily have any alcohol clearly displayed in the picture, but university administration didn’t seem to agree, and this cost her education degree.
So how do we control this? The best way is to probably be conscious of it. Before you update that profile or send that tweet, think if you are willing to say it to the world. We live in an increasingly connected world, and everyone will be watching.