In a digital world, anything you put online will be stored and available forever.
All of your pictures, videos, connections and updates are saved on servers, which are backed up in numerous locations and archived in other numerous locations. For the first time in human history, the life of a person from conception to death will be available to be digitally tracked and retrieved.
So what does this mean, especially to our youth?
It means that we need to re-evaluate how we present ourselves in this digital realm. We need to start thinking of ourselves as a brand or a company, where our product is US.
For example, if a major company had a big party where everyone got hammered, would it be wise for that company to post pictures of that event online? Would it help their brand or not? Would it instill confidence in that company or not? Would people trust the decision-making of that company or not?
Building trust takes a long time. Destroying it takes seconds.
Displaying integrity takes consistency and discipline, not frivolity and public self-indulgence.
It doesn’t mean that company parties don’t occur where people get hammered. It means that companies are very protective of what information they make publicly available and what information is kept in-house.
Young people need to start taking the same approach. Just because you can post a picture or video online doesn’t mean you should.
Current and future employers are starting to scour the digital domain for information about our behavior, morals, interests, passions and strengths to see if we fit within their work culture. They’ll examine our digital experiences for weakness, lapses in judgment and questionable actions to see if our employment with them is a liability or an asset.
Future spouses will be able to find out how much you tell the truth and how much you lie. They’ll be able to easily uncover family secrets and all of those mistakes we wish were never to be remembered.
This is just the way things will be living in this digital world. It’s time parents and children start asking themselves how they’ve been advertising their brand, followed quickly by whether that’s how we really want others to think of us?
That analysis should change our non-digital decisions as well. If you are protective of your brand, then you would want to avoid going to events where your private behavior may be made digitally public by someone else also in attendance.
We need to actively separate our real life from our digital counterpart. We have to be smarter about what we do and who we do it with, because all of our decisions, good, bad or ugly, will be searchable and retrievable on a database somewhere.
In a time where every moment of our lives is potential online fodder, protecting what we choose to keep private may be one of the most important things we ever do when it comes to defining and maintaining our brand, ourselves.