Seeing this article on the Compete blog (which, incidentally, is often a fascinating read) prompted me to think more widely about our online personas – both real and assumed – and how perpetual they may be.
As social networking as a process (if not the specific sites – yet) becomes more ingrained, we are leaving increasing amounts of personal information scattered around the web. Most of it will be whimsical and incidental, but some of it will be personal. And what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet. Facebook suicides only go so far when you have archive.org for all your nostalgic needs.
So, for instance, I have been on the Internet for around 10 years. I probably started moving from the application based (MSN) to the web-based (Faceparty/Friends Reunited et al) 5 or 6 years ago. I have closed some online accounts, while others remain open. I honestly have no idea what data can be publicly accessed at the moment. I certainly wouldn’t want people nowadays accessing my angsty musical preferences (Hello, Papa Roach) or film quotes (actually, my film taste has remained remarkably consistent…).
To my mind, online self-marketing is something I might do when I am single but it seems far to involve far too much effort and concentration to allow it to infiltrate all of my online activities. Therefore, I have taken a strategic withdrawal and retreated into my public shell. The people that know me will already know my hobbies and interests – the people that want to get to know me can ask.
Am I normal in this regard? Will privacy and persona concerns reach a tipping point and see the decline of blogs? I suspect that this may be the case among the professionals of this world but – and judging by their Myspace décor – kids will be kids.