Will the Transparency of Our Lives Damn Us or Legitimize Us?

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Alex Kniess
Alex Kniess
I'm all for living my life transparently. I think that by broadcasting what interests me, what I do and whom I talk to, I create a system of checks and balances. I hear a lot of tips for how to manage your online presence, limit what you broadcast and control who sees what. But honestly, I don't do many things that I would be embarrassed to show anyone. Maybe if more people felt the same way, then there would be fewer actions to hide and it may force people to do more that they're proud of.

Or maybe it will send society spinning out of control. I suppose that I was fortunate that my slow ascension into adulthood mirrored the slow growth of my online presence. I was one of the first people I knew that created websites and started blogging. But I was lucky that I wasn't easily able to do this until I was at an age where I realized to some degree what was appropriate and what was not. One of my friends was expelled in middle school for his website, so I learned quickly the do's and don'ts of broadcasting myself online.

But I feel sorry for everyone entering the workforce who is younger than myself. If I had been able to tweet and stalk people on Facebook in middle school, I'm not sure anyone would want to hire me. I would have left a digital trail wrought with misguided views, ill-informed statements and failed romantic relationships. I'm sure anyone else who has ever grown up would have done the same.

So now that hiring managers are Googling as part of the screening process and everyone's life glows hot under the focused lens of their magnifying glass, what are the ramifications? Personally, I'd love to make hiring decisions based on talent, experience, and ambition as well as personality. After all, I have to work with these people. However, there should be a statute of limitations or something. Maybe some slack can be given when stumbling across college op-eds or forgotten middle school MySpace accounts. But when the middle schooler with Twitter starts his career in the next 10 years, will he even be able to get past the first Googled-search screen? Will our broadcast lives legitimize us as genuine fun-to-work-with people or will they damn us to lifetime unemployment?

As long as you can do your job and you don't piss off your coworkers, does anyone really care? Think of how lame your grandparents' stories would be if they couldn't embellish them with years of glossed-over details and had to instead point you to ancient status updates and blog posts.

We are the lucky generation: Young enough to embrace it all, yet old enough to know where the line should be drawn and how to leverage our broadcast lives for career success. I wonder how those who follow me will fair. I wonder if I'd hire any of them.

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