There used to be a time when the materials that you published online had little or no effect on your offline or REAL world. Even the word "Internet" sounded like it was made up. But now the divide between what you do or say online crosses seamlessly into the real world. This does take some getting used to — even the fact that I mention a division between "on" and "offline" indicates my own dated way of thinking. Actually, this may be more deeply rooted — similar to the distinction between mind and body a la Descartes — just in a contemporary context.
But what is clear, even to my old-millenium brain, is that the dichotomies are no longer apparent for younger generations.
I have discussed the idea that blogs are the new CVs before, but the same applies to our private lives. With a bit of effort, anyone with a modest understanding of the Internet and its structures could dig around and locate the home address of most bloggers. And even casual searching on your own name will turn up references and links to blog posts, comments, websites, discussion boards, videos, podcasts and so on.
The folks over at Beyond Madison Avenue have posted some videos that show just how creepy this can become. And while many of us marketing people tend to operate in a safe and supportive online community, this is not the case for many, many others on the web who post, publish and discuss personal, public and professional aspects of their lives via social media.
It is not only your name that everyone knows. It is a whole lot more.