Your “Online Self”

July 28, 2007 at 8:45 pm (blogging, Friends, fun, images, photo, photography, pictures, Uncategorized)

Top of mind today is the whole notion of your “online self” or what information/pictures/data about yourself you allow online.

For me, this is a particularly difficult question.  I like to go out and have fun with my friends, and my friends and I all post our photos online.  These are photos of me, in my free time, having fun (and possibly getting a little out of hand) with my friends.

Now, since these photos are on the internet, they could theoretically end up anywhere. Hmmmm.  Scary thought.  Does it matter?  Well – maybe.  So, I thought I would search for myself and see what came up.  What could someone find if they looked me up?

Test 1 – Googling myself.  Wwwwweeeeehhhhh.  The only things that came up were some organizations I was involved in in college, a photo taken by a local newspaper at an event, and my involvement in photrade.  So, I safely passed the google search.  Awesome.  Passed test 1.

Test 2 – Social Networking –  (which will definitely have worse results) my myspace and facebook accounts.  On facebook I’m pretty safe, since I can control who has access to view my page, although there are some interesting photos where I have been tagged by others.  Myspace results…..hhhmmmmm……not so great.  My myspace page is primarily where I connect with my friends and there are a number of photos that are maybe not overly appropriate (and involve alcohal and low cut shirts), but would just show that I like to go out and have a good time with my friends 🙂  Hmmmm this is a half pass.

Test 3 – Triangulation.  So throught triangulation – between my blogs, social networks and other affiliations, people could probably 1) figure out who I am, and 2) view photos on multiple sites posted by me.  Not so good.  My photrade pics (which anyone can see through this link) vary in content, and I have actually had a few people comment on some of them (YIKES).  My NAME isn’t associated with these, but I think that people could probably triangulate to who I really am through this.  This test is probably failed. 

OK, so I kind of failed – in that there are photos (taken in good fun with friends) that could give people a less than favorable impression of me.

The next question is – does it matter?  Should I care?  So what if people can see pictures with me out having a good time and consuming adult beverages with my friends?  Who is going to look at this stuff and judge me?  Potential future employers?  Business Schools (if I ever want to apply)?  My family?  My coworkers? 

I think that a fact of life is that people will judge you based on anything they know about you.  Should I care?  Does it matter than strangers might judge me based on some random photo they find of me?  Probably not.  But the reality is that I probably need to care.  Not because I think that it is right for people to care or judge me based on these things, but because they inevitably will. 

Also I work for, (and therefore feel that I personally represent) a company.  Should they care?  Is it unprofessional?  I am professional in my work and my work relations, I produce strong results and conduct myself appropriately and professionally in the office and at work functions.  Why should what I do on my free time matter.

Hmmmm – I think that I need to go and set some of my photos to private (a great photrade feature lets you do this).I’d love to know what people think about this topic……..

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