Digital Fingerprints

Jerry Welsh, Staff Writer

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It is no news to anyone that, with social media networks firing on all cylinders, the world seems to have become much smaller. Obvious impacts aside, there are several points that go unnoticed when we post our daily status updates.

Take a moment and think about your great-grandparents. There is a good chance that most people would have trouble knowing their names, let alone what they were actually like in person. The legacy they have left behind is nothing more than a few fond words. This is one fact of life that will be forever changed through social media networks.

Every status update, tweet, photo, or video uploaded becomes a digital fingerprint that is searchable, highly preserved, and direct from the source. Instead of the occasional black and white photo of your own ancestors, ours will have a highly colored picture of what we were actually like in the times before their own. With information constantly being indexed in the cloud, our children’s children’s children will have a firsthand account of our lives, documented by none other than our own self. This opens up a whole new aspect of unfamiliar territory, being that technology has paved the new super highway of information exchange. Imagine your great grandchildren being able to “google” your name and have your entire Facebook history on file. This is the legacy you will leave behind, as if you were to have your very own Wikipedia page.

With approximately 750 million Facebook users worldwide, all posting an average of 90 pieces of information (status updates, photos, etc.) per month on Facebook alone, it is clear that we are leaving quite a trail of information. Anyone who has tried to remove an unsavory picture or delete a Facebook account altogether knows that removing digital information can be quite daunting. Our memories—and mistakes—are forever encrypted and carefully catalogued by name.

So should we be more careful of what we post?

If we go through the trouble of cleaning up our digital acts for future employers, should we not do the same for our future generations? Is this moral to judge one’s life off of social media? Weather you are fighting for that office job or dead six feet under, one thing remains clear. Your digital fingerprint is here to stay. The best way to manage this is by simply watching what you post. Your friend’s 21st birthday party pictures may not be the best thing to post for everyone to see. And besides, if your great grandchild does in fact search you in the future, you can be quite sure he wouldn’t want a picture of you vomiting on a sidewalk coming up under “images.”

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