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online permanence

2009 April 19
by Melanie

Alex’s comment brought up something which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately- the permanence of what we’re putting out there on the internet. I have one screenname that I tend to use for anything and everything I sign up for online, and I never really gave it a second thought. The other day, my mom (who knows my screenname from AIM) called me and said, “Hey, I Googled your screenname and all this stuff started popping up. Are you registered on all these sites?” I hadn’t thought about the fact that anyone who knew my “secret internet name” could just search it and find practically every site I had ever registered with. Now, I’m pretty rigorous about changing privacy settings to make myself unsearchable or hidden. But some of the sites that were popping up on the search were places where I had (or thought I had!) deleted my profile. And yet, there they were! You really can’t delete everything on the internet, and, as my mother has clearly demonstrated, you can’t keep people out of your business either. Now, I don’t really care that my family and friends can find me on Shelfari and see all the books I’ve ever read, but it’s weird to me that I’m now unwillingly associated with different sites that I’d rather not be anymore. In this internet age, you really can’t avoid signing up for most things. I guess the lesson I’ve taken away from all this is to be more creative with my screennames from now on, because it really is there forever.

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