The Impermanent Web

There seems to be one overarching opinion regarding the way companies treat employee social media postings. In 2009 we saw 8% of companies were firing employees for inappropriate social media postings. If I included the material from Google on “social media firing” or “social media termination” I’d fill a page. Fear is a powerful motivator, and fear of the unknown is the most basic instinct.

I hope as we mature as a society and began to “get to know” eachother through social media, people will begin to understand and frankly, lighten up. I hope that as companies learn about the potential in social media they will encourage it’s use with their employees and leverage their social assets. The web isn’t getting any wilder or easier to hide in, in fact it’s being suburbanized.

You can think of Web 1.0 as the Wild West. You could hitch up your wagon, move out and set up a tent and town anywhere. Shootings and saloon fights were common. It was difficult to know who you could trust, and worse, who was responsible for what you were reading. Brigham Youngs ran rampant. Parents feared for their sons and daughters when AOL screeched up.

Enter Web 2.0 and the desire for legitimacy. The first thing I did with my university email address was join Facebook. Personal branding became a way to tie your full web presence together and establish yourself in any industry. 6degrees, then LinkedIn, let you pull together all your network connections and build an online resume longer than any career counselor would approve. Personal websites became portfolios of your work.

Yet with all these establishments, new platforms to create content on were changing the 90-9-1 web principle. Everyone was a creator, which meant Google was becoming saturated. Twitter’s rocketship popularity hit on the Web 2.0 trend: Our attention spans had shortened and we have become addicted to constantly fresh content. Flipping to Google’s “news” channel or through Gawker’s stories, and you’ll see the trend.

Google’s “Dear Sophie” video struck a chord with Gen X and older Gen Ys who are just starting families because most grew up through the shift of “surfing The Internet” to “being online”. They remember scrapbooks and holiday conversations that didn’t involve Googling faces or instantly Youtubing. They remember social networks that don’t exist anymore, blogs they used to read and wonder where emails from long ago went. Unlike Polaroids or letters they can’t dig them out of shoeboxes.

Facebook has created one of the most powerful connections to its customer a company could. Timeline isn’t just a story of our lives and our friends, if it survives, it will be a reminder for GenY Facebook has been with us all the way through our adulthood. The comparison was made to my favorite Mad Men clip, the “Carousel”, a Kodak photo projector…”this device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine”…”it takes us back to a place we ache to go again”.

If we are no longer able to deny or hide that we did beer keg stands in college or that “phase” we went through when we were “finding ourselves”, will we finally become a society who accepts no one is perfect? Will we become more open by being more defined? No longer do we accept hiding behind avatars and fake usernames. Every site pushes for verification through Google or Facebook and real names. Birthdates are requested, dual accounts are forbidden. Who you are on the web is as transparent as the cheap glass on an iPhone.

I Google myself on a regular basis. The results are continually amusing, and sometimes a little unnerving. I realize how much I’ve changed over the years, and cringe at freelance writing I did with typos, or passionate posts at 4 am. What I’ve realized though, is that so much of that is extremely hard to find. Where is my LiveJournal? Who has any recollection what I wrote in heartbroken Facebook statuses? I’ve written 78 blogposts in the last year, and damned if I can remember half of them…or if anyone new reading my blog will bother to browse them.

I leave you with a final thought…a memory from my childhood, one of my favorite movies, and actually my Halloween costume this year, #noshame, #nopictures. You can never step in the same river twice.

(*It just took me 10 minutes to remember the word “projector”. How will my children ever learn geometry I wonder…)

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