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.
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”:
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:
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.