In general, many of us live pretty public lives nowadays. Even if you don’t do Twitter or don’t have a blog you probably have a Facebook or a MySpace page or belong to some other online community. The strange thing is that even if you don’t really do anything online there is still a bunch of information about you out there in cyberspace. We leave cyber trails without even knowing it. It can be a little overwhelming to try and manage it all and I would assume that most people my age don’t really think twice about their cyber presence.
What got me thinking about it was the fact that a couple days ago I got an email from Facebook that someone had commented on my status. Turns out that it was my grandfather who had made the comment using my grandmother’s Facebook account on a status update that I didn’t realize had been posted about my latest blog entry. (how was that for a convoluted sentence?) Needless to say, I didn’t even know that my grandparents really knew what Facebook was, let alone had an account.
I got on Facebook when it was fairly new, in fact I believe that I had to wait until they had added my school as one that was eligible to sign up from. I probably used it a lot more at that point in my life compared to know. While it is not as convoluted as MySpace, Facebook has so much going on now with all the apps and ads and pages and fans and whatnot. Even if I were to clear out all of the notifications currently sitting in my inbox there, I would probably have hundreds more within a week. I even block lots of Facebook apps, but every day there are new ones and new invitations. Most of the time they are from “friends” who I really have had nothing to do with since high school. Sometimes I wonder what the point really is.
Getting that email and comment, while it did get me to call my grandmother to say hi, was one of the last things that I ever expected to see in my inbox. They are not totally technologically illiterate, but they are not computer wizzes. The whole situation was an interesting reminder of how quickly information is disseminated and how far it can get.
I actually find the timing of this rather interesting as Sci-Fi (Sy-Fy now I suppose) just aired the pilot episode of Caprica. For those non-sci-fi people out there, the premise of Caprica, which is a prequel to Battlestar Galactica, where a preeminent scientist looses his daughter in a terrorist bombing. Zoe, the daughter had been working on a digital version of herself based on collecting the information from her digital trail through life. The concept being that what we are today is a sum of the events that led to today and much of that is traceable given how much of our lives are contained in the digital world.
I hear people say all the time that you have to be careful with what you post online. While it is true that employers may look at the Facebook and MySpace pages of potential and current employees, how much of your life can you really keep private these days? How much information do you keep private? Is it actually possible to live a truly private life? Is there anyone whose name you can type into Google and just not turn up anything?