My earliest memories of using the internet were back in elementary school, when we used Netscape in school.
As I got older, AOL became the huge company, and soon my friends and I were instant messaging each other and changing our aim status updates.
Then as a senior in high school, I created my a Facebook profile, which since then has documented the many photos, status updates, articles, thoughts, and memories throughout my four years of college.
Thinking back, I can see now that since I was about 9 years old, I have grown up on the web.
Yet today, at the age of 21, I have been more active online in a span of about 6 months than I have ever been at any point in my life all together – I blog, I tweet, I use Facebook and Linkedin.
Like most of the people my age, I have some youthful indiscretions. (Good thing my Facebook profile is private?)
When I first started blogging, I simply thought of it as a way to channel my personality onto a page, except that I didn’t fully understand that everything I put on the web, stayed on the web.
My first blog morphed into a music blog, and I began using some of the lingo of my peers and the music I listened to. To me, this was not a problem, but to my older brother – who pointed out that my expletive laden blog posts were showing up on Linkedin – it was.
I eventually unlinked my blog from my Linkedin profile, not because I was ashamed of what I was writing, but because I realized that my writing didn’t fit the medium. Imagine how it would look if I was at a business conference networking, and started using cuss words in my dialogue?
Then today I read an article on Social Media Today by Tracy Gold, titled “How Social Media Can Get You a Job“. Her last point was to “Google yourself”, and to preemptively combat any negative information about yourself.
For about 15 minutes, I went into panic mode, thinking about my blog with all the curses.
I had applied to maybe 3 or 4 jobs, and hadn’t heard any responses.
What if I wasn’t getting any responses because of what I wrote on my blog?
So I forced myself to do something I’ve always dreaded doing (go back and read what I wrote a few months ago).
As I was browsing through the posts, not only was I dismayed by the poor quality of writing (awful), but I could also see that I used the F-word about 20 or so times, as well as some other choice vocabulary.
I began thinking about what my parents, friends, potential employers, or even random visitors to my blog would think when they read my posts.
Would they just assume I spoke like this in real life?
After I finished reading my old posts, I calmed down however. For one, I could see that my later posts didn’t contain any profanity at all, which is good because the whole first page has no profanity, meaning you’d have to dig a little deeper to see them.
Second, why would I want to change or erase something I wrote, something that is a part of me, even if it is embarrassing?
CEO Eric Schmidt made headlines last year when he predicted that in the future, young adults will be able to change their identity to escape their youthful indiscretions. (Think of that Facebook picture of you hitting the bong.)
I’m not going to get too deep into what Schmidt said, but I don’t really agree with him.
I value those posts with the expletives as much, if not more, than the posts I write to help people with whatever they need.
Want to know why?
Because I took chances, pushed boundaries, made mistakes, and as a result, I learned valuable lessons that will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Isn’t that part of growing up? Making mistakes? And then learning from them?
So if an employer is not going to hire me based off what he saw me write 6 months ago, when I was first blogging, then good; I probably don’t want to work for that employer anyways. If they can’t see what I’ve done since that initial phase (including this post), then they don’t deserve my skills, creativity, and experiences.
Have you made any mistakes on the web? What did you learn from them? Share them in the comments below.