#TBT: Stop reminding me

With the popularity of Instagram and Twitter and Facebook came a new app a few years ago: Timehop. Timehop SWEPT through my social circle with intense popularity. The premise? Remember all of the fun, cool things you posted on the internet one year ago today! Or all the years ago today! HOW FUN!

Okay, I’m going to be really honest, and share some deep personal secrets here:

I do NOT want to be reminded of the things I posted on the internet.

There I said it. Sure, college was fun. And heck, those years after college were fun too! But boy was I young, and silly, and dumb, and far less discerning with the persona I put out into the world.

Everyone had Timehop. We would screenshot and compare in our group chats, reminisce about simpler times and fun nights out. But it wasn’t until a few years ago when you look back…and you cringe.

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Why did I need to post this? Why did I love pancakes so much? Just kidding. I love breakfast foods. And that cookbook I won is one of my favorites. But did the whole world need to know?

 

As our lives become increasingly ingrained in the internet, in social media, and in the tech that records and captures our lives, we leave a trail of ourselves behind. And though, maybe not immediately accessible at all times, it’s darn near close.

So what doe that mean for us now? It’s clear that as soon as anyone is a “somebody” people go immediately to those breadcrumbs and drag up any nefarious posts: young and dumb, it doesn’t matter when we are living in a culture of high sensitivity to political correctness, gender equality, and racial turmoil. And an off-color joke, a poor decision on Instagram, an off the cuff Facebook post – it all can come back to haunt you. Where if you said that joke in person, someone would have had to record it; if you took a photo, developed the film, and realized it was wrong, you could throw it in the trash; and without the platform of Facebook…well you have to keep your thoughts to yourself or take the time to mail and send a letter…which stamps are about $39 dollars now, so I’m doubtful more people would.

 

To me, as I sit here looking at this particular gem that showed up on my Facebook “On this Day”:

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If this doesn’t embody my parents on social media…

I’m thinking about the mistakes I made, and how I was never held accountable for a poor decision. And with a President who tweets every 9 minutes, we don’t seem to care as much about his past tweets, but we do quite a bit about others. I mean, every single person has had the lecture from a professor, parent, or mentor about “what you post will come back to haunt you”…

Maquel, a contestant currently on this season of “The Bachelor” was found to have racist images of her pretending to be Mexican. She issues a prompt apology, but if she had been in college, oh, 10 years ago, would those photos ever surfaces?

And the Telegraph in the UK did a story this fall about three lower level celebrities being discovered with poor social media presence in regards to homophobic language tweeted out between 2010-2014.

Just this week YouTube star Kian Lawley was recast in a movie from 20th Century Fox after an old video surfaced of him using racially motivated hate language.

 

As soon as someone starts looking, it’s no longer difficult to find out enough about a person to find something less that stellar. Does the internet and our desire to capture all parts of our lives prevent us from making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on? Or are we destined to reminded in places outside of our parent’s living room of the awkward, full braces, bad hair, terrible fashion, cheesy photos we took 5, 10, 15, however many years ago?

I mean, I joke, but my dad posted this on Instagram:

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I know I was cute, but did the entire universe need to know? And God help me if he and my mom find my awkward teen years…because I posted enough terrible photos on Facebook during college, the world does not need one more.

11 comments

  1. I really enjoyed this post and I liked how you showed the good and the bad of this ability to Timehop back into one’s Facebook history. Oftentimes when I see a throwback notification on my Facebook as one of my friends likes another post from 8 years ago, it’s an embarrassing result, not a detrimental blow to ones reputation. Sometimes we forget that these celebrities are victim to a much more serious Timehop than we are used to.

    I really liked your point about Political Correctness and how that it can amplify the effect which these posts can have on people. Thinking about the different social environments that use technology in different ways is quite interesting. Look at the use of Facebook in the Arab Spring or the use of video recording and live streaming in Black Lives Matter Protests. Technology in the hands of certain societies, including our Politically Correct one, really changes the way that it is used.

  2. Hahaha I love this post! I am consistently grateful I did not get a Facebook until I was a junior in high school, mitigating most of the damage that I could have done and the awkward photos on my Facebook. I think you bring up an interesting question on whether the internet and the many parts of our lives we capture will prevent us from learning from our mistakes and moving on. I think it is a complex question because, at first glance, I appreciate that people are held accountable for their actions on social media, but moving on does seem almost impossible at times. Not only are people’s actions on social media found and called out, but they can be spread throughout the US through social media and the internet. There would have been no way for me to know about the University of Alabama student who was expelled for racist videos on her Finsta, but because of people sharing the video on Facebook and Twitter I saw the video many times.

    This also connects interestingly with the TED Talk we watched this week about if users control their own data. While this is clearly content she posted, I think it relates to the question of who has access to our information and how can it be spread or shared.

    1. I had this idea sparked from my parents affinity for social media, and then watched the TED Talk this week and was amused at how closely it links! We put so much of this data out…and yet….we don’t think about the “control” we lack over it.

  3. I see eye to eye with you about a lot that you talked about in your blog post, and I think that a lot of our cringeworthy posts in the past can be explained by the newness of social to us way back pre 2010. Perhaps we weren’t conditioned to take it seriously because it was still such a novelty and not ever seen as something that social networks like facebook and instagram would eventually make into the current weird fetishization of nostalgia that we see it as today. it’s obvious now that social media will exist in some form forever on into the future, but I don’t think it was ever that obvious back in the 2000s.

    The digitization of large parts of our past allow for a different kind of dive into our personal histories that generations prior to ours simply didn’t have with their polaroid photos. We’re the generation of nostalgia junkies for better or for worse.

    1. “The generation of nostalgia junkies” totally illuminated a lot. Isn’t it funny that half of television right now are “reboots”? Like, who really needed Roseanne back on our TVs? I think your phrase of nostolgia junkies totally sums that up! We are semi addicted to our past.

  4. This post definitely hits home with me. I like how you started out on a light-hearted note about Time Hop, something I’m sure we can all relate to. However, under the surface there is a eery feeling about our past always being recorded and stored away… something we definitely like to push to the back of our mind. It’s funny how an app like Time Hop can simultaneously make us laugh at old memories while forewarning us of the future consequences of our posts.

  5. I really liked this article for a few reasons. The first is that I completely agree with you on the notion of hating a throwback popping up and then feeling embarrassed. The second has to do with the idea that everyone that has a digital past and that things can come back to haunt you. My friends and I discuss this all the time about how changing social issues in today’s environment can sometimes strike some fear into you about things you’ve said in the past. Additionally, the things that might have been off the cuff from eight years ago might not have been (as) offensive back then, but people mature and don’t make those mistakes anymore. However people can dig up this dirt and point fingers and it could ruin a career/life. Finally, when it comes time for our generation to elect a president, these Facebook pictures and tweets can stir up a lot of drama. Hopefully people will be able to sift through the muck of old dumb decisions and realize what the candidate is trying to do in the future.

  6. I enjoyed reading your blog post this week! The topic, as you can probably tell from the number of comments, is extremely relevant to so many people in our class. I enjoyed that you used examples other than political stirrings caused from old social media posts– which would have essentially been an easier way to illustrate the negative effects of old media posts. Including instances where lower-level celebrities were bit in the butt for their offensive posts shows that it doesn’t matter if you’re in an election or just a person with a public persona, what you posts matters. How it is interpreted matters even more.
    I thought you raised a great point about learning from your mistakes, like Kian Lawley stated in his tweet addressing his previous distasteful language. So now I also wonder, is there any room to learn or grow as a person in such a public arena such as social media?

  7. I really found this post interesting for two reasons. Firstly I want to play devil’s advocate here and be a proponent of Timehop for a minute… Maybe… just maybe.. the app isnt so bad. History is a great teacher, and I think that if we have the opportunity to look back and see what we posted one, two, five, or soon enough TEN years ago, it might make us think twice about hitting send on a tweet or a Facebook post. Basically, what this blog did for me was remind myself that I need to have the back of my 25 year old self, my 30 year old self, hell even my 60 year old self. Gotta keep these embarassing posts off the interent.

    On a more serious note, I think this post brings up an interesting point about morals. There are a lot of things that people put on the internet in 2010 that are coming back to bite them now. I want to make it clear that I in no way condone offensive language or hate speech now or during any period in the past, but I do think that we have evolved in the past ten years to be a bit more politically correct as a society. Some things we find offensive today may not have been quite as offensive 10 years ago. The hope is that those people stopped posting offensive content because they have grown up and that they no longer believe the things they once put out on the internet. I think the question I want to pose is: Is it fair to heavily condemn people for things they said ten years ago? Is it fair to apply 2018 standards of correctness and morals to tweets from 2009? I’m not taking a stance one way or the other, but I think it’s a question worth delving into a bit.

    1. Totally appreciate your devil’s advocate position Jake! I definitely think there is some benefit to reminding ourselves of those previous mistakes, or even just embarrassing choices. And I would agree, that even just as a society, we have evolved quite a bit in the last 10 years. And I think something we might have gotten away with then, we would be called to the carpet now. And without social media, those things might appear in our memories, in a printed photo, or at most, an email. But all of those things are relative tied down in a small circle – and unable to be found be the general public. I think its fair to say we have all done something, maybe small, maybe not, that we have some regret on…and are glad there is not tech trace of it to be brought back up in present day.

  8. I really liked your post and totally agree for the most part. It’s increasingly easy to “stalk” someone back to embarrassing or incriminating times on Facebook or other social media platforms. When I was first reading your post, I was expecting you to go more in the direction of current things Facebook has been doing especially with their new ‘One Year Ago Today’ feature or further back even. Most of the time I’m being reminded of very positive things, and though it’s nice to reminisce, it often makes hard days harder by thinking about how much fun you were having a year ago. This time last year I was studying abroad in Italy and it was amazing but Facebook won’t let me move on and enjoy BC for what it is because it’s always being compared to Milan. I think where I’m going with this is considering how easy it is to find people’s old information, photos, posts, etc. we don’t need to be throwing it in their faces that much more – if we want it, its definitely not hard to find!

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