I cursed on the Internet. My professional career is over. Let this be a lesson to all those little snots on social media that “everything you say and do on the Interwebs can be used against you in the nebulous future”.
Or as John Palfrey, author of Born Digital, warns, “…some people do certainly share too much information about themselves online. They’re going to have tattoos in the digital space that they want to get rid of a few decades from now.”
But when I think of the tattoo example, I think of my first job as a teenager, in a family restaurant. People with tattoos had to cover them completely with bandages or clothing. If they could not, they would be assigned a job in the back, as a dishwasher or cook. I was warned that a misplaced tattoo would land me a career in dishwashing forever.
I did what any respectable aspiring teacher would do. I waited until my 20s… and eventually inked a spot on my back that would be covered by school dress codes.
By the time I got my higher ed job, tattoos have become more commonplace. Higher ed blogger @micala blogs about getting her tattoo and how her supervisor accepted the idea.
The point is that if enough people are doing something (like getting inked) it becomes part of a cultural norm. Sooner or later the naysayers end up accepting it, whether or not they ever like it. As long as what you do or say isn’t on the far, far outside the norm (like tattooing obscenities on your forehead), you gain acceptance with the group.
Having a public presence on the Web should be no different. At some point, the things we say and do on in social networking sites and on blogs become norms. And while there’s professional risk in having a public persona on the Web, there’s also a greater chance than online reputation will result in professional opportunities.
What do you think? What online behaviors are acceptable now? What online behaviors are outside the norm? What ones might be overlooked 5, 10, or even 20 years from now? Do you think some online behaviors will always cross the line?
(Note: I’m not saying we shouldn’t expect students to be digitally literate. As a matter of fact, I’ll be talking about the need for digital literacy next week.)