more on personal lives online

Kind of continuing on my comments on Ludwig & Borden with respect to the extent to which people put their personal lives online. It really just isn’t teenagers I suppose. In the last couple days I’ve come across this and this and I remain bemused.

What motivates people to post online nonanoymously in contexts they believe may damage other prospects in their lives? I mean the possibilities seem endless. Even if you never post from work, for example (or use work resources to make anything available), prospective employers, etc, could run a google search on you.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m a very private person, so I’m really rather staggered by the frequency to which people expose themselves online at all. On the other, what freaking business is it of anyone else when someone does stuff online on their own time?

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the internet folds everything into the same playing field. At this point in time, there’s no real concept of separate private and public internet activity. Perhaps down the road some court cases will establish that employers cannot base employment decisions on one’s personal internet activity, and such similar stuff. That makes logical sense, continuning the general trend and direction of case law over the centuries, playing a constant catch-up to new issues raised by technology.

But even then, on a visceral level, do you really want everyone you interact with to potentially know about what you’re doing online? In particular the one who thought his tenure might be at risk from his blogging puzzles me. But perhaps it just means that for every one person like him, there’s a dozen (or two or three) who take steps like I do to anonymize themsselves. Bitch PhD certainly has gone that route. But even then you can get in trouble, as her article shows.

I don’t have any answers or real opinions (yet). This is something I’m chewing over, trying to decide what should be fair and right, despite my personal inclinations toward privacy (that I would pursue even if there were never fallout from publicly identifiable internet activity…)

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