Everyone Knows Your Name

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.

8 thoughts on “Everyone Knows Your Name

  1. That video is disturbing at just the right level, Gavin. It may sound corny but those of us in safe, supportive online communities carry a responsibility. Looks like BMA is taking some positive steps.

  2. It hadn’t occured to me before that extensive and supportive online and offline networks that overlap are not necessarily always the case for some people, and that if they are young or inexperienced that they are vulnerable. Maybe there should be an online version of The Samaritans or Angels that all people can turn to. It has to be said thought that the digital camera and recording device is a powerful weapon in reporting unwanted harrasment in real life. It’s already being used quite frequently in Korea for anti social behaviour.

  3. A wise boss I had while employed at General Electric told me, “Don’t put anything in an email that you don’t want to see on the front page of the Wall Street Journal tomorrow.”
    That was 1996. Today, anything electronic is public. Interact with that in mind. The next generation already is…

  4. Great points, Gavin.
    I’ve been listening to a podcast of Alan Moore (communities over brands) and he is big on this concept of the 7’th media (mobile) and how it is changing our world. There’s a service in Korea called PSIWorld? that has 80%+ of all teenagers on it.
    As these services go mobile, how much of what we chat or say is traceable back to the person? Or stored forever?
    Or… should I bring up Twitter here??? 😉

  5. Think Before You Post

    What we put online is public, now and forever. A little leg work and anyone can track you down with the data that you post online. The Ad Council has two spots (see below) that try to illustrate this points

  6. Whenever a potential client contacts me, I search the internet with a fine toothed comb looking for everything about him. I’m pretty open-minded, so even though the guys I work with (youngish internet-y folks who grew up online) are very open online there’s not much that I find that completely turns me off to them.
    I think I’ve told you about this before–I’ve had to quit reading the very open personal blog of a colleague of mine. Although he’s gotten more conservative in what he reveals over the years, after looking at his archives one day, I was like–OMG, he must have written this when he thought no one would read it. Sometimes I feel like I know entirely too much about his past.
    With another client, I found lots of posts he did on a previous blog that were just nasty and mean, and there were also allusions to a scandalous past. Because of that, even though we had some pleasant phone and IM conversations, I was very suspicious about him and didn’t know if I wanted to work with him. I asked him directly about the posts I had found, and he explained to me a lot of stuff that was going on in his life at the time that brought that side of his personality out.
    We’re pretty tight friends now (and working together), and I think the openness and compassion of our relationship was definitely fascilitated by me finding this unflattering stuff of his online and the heart to heart communication that resulted from that.
    So, there are many folks who over-expose themselves online, especially when they’re younger and they don’t care what anyone thinks or they’re too naive to believe their secrets will get out. It’s almost a given that something about someone will turn up that is entirely TMI (too much information) or that makes them look bad. I like to practice tolerance and use this knowledge for good, instead of evil, unlike the creepy guys in the video.
    Definitely for teens, it’s a much needed video. With the internet, you don’t just get 15 minutes of fame–what you actually get is a lifetime of infamy.

Comments are closed.