Thursday, June 5, 2008

Immortalized Me

I walked down the hall of my high school passing out copies of a comic-book zine I drew, featuring a mock superhero called SuperEmily, who battled thinly veiled versions of my grade’s reigning mean girls. In college, I sent out an all-student e-mail message revealing that an ex-boyfriend shaved his chest hair. The big difference between these youthful indiscretions and my more recent ones is that you can Google my more recent ones.

After recently throwing away 3 years worth of passed notes, pictures of ex boyfriends, and "memorabilia" I realized I should try to forget rather than keep, I realized it was easy to pile them up in a garbage bag and lug it to the dumpster.

It felt good to see the big, black, plastic coffin of memories tumble down into the depths of the garbage, knowing that the things worth keeping were right where they should be. In my life.
Today. Not tucked away in shoe boxes from the 1980s.

But once I disposed of my past in this way, I realized that the relief was only fleeting, because the real memories I should try to forget are the ones I've immortalized on the web.

Like the quoted writer, you can also Google my mistakes.

There was a time that a simple search of my name would bring up videos my friends and I had shot in my own apartment, giving the whole world a glimpse into my personal life. They knew how I looked at 2 a.m., they knew what sort of pictures I hung on my walls and they knew how infrequently I vacuumed. Strangers were invited into my home without my real approval, but instead with my lack of concern for privacy.

But if it took nearly ten years to rid my closet of those old shoe boxes, how long will it take to rid the web of me?

I sometimes want to delete Web-Me and start over. Save my pictures in photo albums rather than Photobucket. Call my friends on their birthdays rather than leave them a Myspace comment... and write in a real, leather bound journal rather than this blog.

But something always brings me back...
Maybe it's the technology that is so accessible. Maybe it's exhibitionism. Or maybe it's carelessness.

For each and every post or upload or tagged photo, I am creating a one dimensional, living log of my life.

One that will never fit neatly in the dumpster, no matter how many mistakes I make.


Chrissie said...

Do you ever wish you could erase your personal history from the web?

Travis Miller said...

I have a cynical "this is me, take it or leave it" view of internet me. If people are going to judge me based on what my myspace says or not hire me for a job because of my facebook pictures, that's their prerogative--if they think that's a legitimate representation of my work ethic or ability/inability to perform a task I've been trained to do without meeting me or giving me an actual chance, I don't want to know them or work for them anyway!

Chrissie said...

I used to live by that same philosophy... but I think now I worry about the long term impact rather than immediate things like, "I didn't get that job because of X,Y,Google-Z.

For example: This blog and its impact on my "dating life."

I actually posted a less-than-stellar review of someone who turned out to be great. I deleted the post a day or two after actually talking to them, and giving them the time to show me who they were, but I wonder what would have happened if I kept that post up? What relationships am I affecting by writing so honestly about them?

Also, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't ever met someone, found their Myspace page, and then unduly judged them based on certain things.

Unfortunately, the intricacies that are cute once you actually know someone, can be off putting if you get to know those things first because of technology.

Like, an Alanis Morrisette quote as their main headline, or a picture of them with a funnel in their mouth wearing only their underwear.

I think these things are better understood when they're the aftermath of a long-term friendship or relationship...

Once you know that happened only once, or that the Alanis Morriesette thing was a joke it makes it understandable and funny, rather than a "first impression."

Travis Miller said...

The fact that you use the Alanis analogy tells me that you're comfortable with your Alanis lyric recognizing I'm judging you now.


That's a really good point about the blog and the people you may blog about and how it might affect the bigger picture. To stick with the mid 90's pop culture references, I'll hijack a Notorious BIG quote and change it ever so slightly so it's relevant to this topic of conversation.

Mo' bloggin' mo' problems.

But don't stop blogging!

Anonymous said...

MySpace (and things of that nature) is going to be the downfall of civilized humanity as we know it. Because you're absolutely right, make first impressions from a picture of an idiot-dude in a dress, an off-color headline or a depressed, psychotic rant sitting dormant in a blog, just waiting to be read by the wrong person at the wrong time. And suddenly, there it've made your Judgement. Case closed, no appeals to be accepted. 10-20, no parole. I've told myself so many times that I would not judge a person at first meeting, or first impression, or first MySpace page viewing, but I do. We all matter how righteous we pretend to be. I often wonder how many people have done the same with me. And in my humble opinion, that's just the tip of the iceberg in the EVIL that is MySpace.

But I think erasing your past identity might not be the wisest choice. We are who we are today based on the good and poor decisions we've made in the past. Be it in leather bound journals, cyberspace or even the "real world". You can't change who you are, at least not all that much. I say act like the crazy fool you really are from the beginning...everywhere you go. I'd rather date or be friends with someone that is thought to be a bit out there, but real, than with someone who thinks it is only ok to be your real self after you have hooked your significant other.

Phil Strum said...

I am fairly careful about what I do and do not post in virtual world. But it has little to do with professional life and more to do with just not putting anything to be ashamed of on the internet.

As for blogging, when I first started I was a little afraid that I'd get pigeonholed and criticized for being "the wrestling guy" in a business where I wanted to be taken seriously as a sportswriter.

Thankfully, that has not happened.

(At least not to my face).