As usual XKCD says everything better than I could ever say it.
Such is the ever present conundrum those of us coming of age during the internet golden age and the worst economy since the great depression. We’re filled with an ongoing need to post every minor thought or achievement online but we also want a job. While “Drunk Literature with Kate R Canter” might finally boost me into YouTube glory, it’ll probably do more harm than good on job applications. Yet, an online presence is a prerequisite for many careers in media and literature. The results of a Google search might well prove to be worth more than the results of my SATs.
We’ve all heard the horror stories, people fired or arrested because they posted pictures of themselves committing unsavory acts or tweeted something awful. Fortunately, I was paranoid enough to stay away from anything that wasn’t perfectly legal and, unfortunately, never in a position of much esteem that I could ruin it by saying something stupid. My personal internet shame comes in the form of two myspace pages that I can’t remember the passwords for and a Travel Blog I started when I went exactly nowhere. I’ve deleted any incriminating evidence from my Facebook and Twitter but someone will dig up something I posted in seventh grade and use it as an excuse not to hire or publish me, I have no doubt. The internet is forever and we will all post something we regret.
But what about the posts you don’t regret? I recently posted a comic version of Paradise Lost filled with more cocks and boobs than I’ve ever drawn in my entire life. I put a lot of work into the project and I am still really proud of it. Still, I know certain portions of our society will be offended by frank depictions of Eve menstruating or Adam inventing domestic violence. A variety of people told me not to post it, or at least not to tell my family about it, to avoid the inevitable judgment.
And I struggled with it. I actively debated whether or not showing off something I was proud of would be worth the risk of distain, especially as I leave college and start sending out resumes. Eventually, as you can tell by clicking the link, I did post it and so far it’s been without repercussion, at least that I am aware of. I’m glad I drew it and glad I posted it but I still get that sneaking fear that it will cost me something to keep that integrity.
So what’s the answer here? I don’t think we should give up our internet integrity or live in fear of an anonymous judge but I don’t have a lot of pity for the #illegal crowd. Like anything else it comes down to personal judgment. Is what you’re proud of worth the risk of derision. If a person is willing to hire or fire you based on what you believe, do you really want to work or associate with them?
Sticking by what you love, or what you believe in, often has the unexpected bonus of filtering out people you don’t want to be associated with. If I post a righteous feminist rant about slut shaming and my employer fires me for “encouraging immoral behavior” or something else that hasn’t happened to me but could, I don’t really want to be involved with them. Voicing certain opinions, especially on political controversy, will often have seemingly negative results but standing for one’s beliefs is always worth it.
(Readers! How many of you have worried about what you put online? Why? Have you had any repercussions based on something you posted? I am interested!)