Some say that once you start an online life you give up your privacy. Your footprint soon travels in cyberspace. How often do we hear that once you’ve posted that picture, or uttered those words, they are out there forever?
There’s a lot of truth in that. I can find at least one personal website that I created back as far as 1997. Much of the information is inaccurate now, of course. For a start I’m 13 years older. I’ve also re-married, changed careers, and moved since then.
The point is, it’s still out there 13 years later. If I’d been a gigolo or a porn star, and made a web site about that, chances are that it would still be out there too. Perhaps I’d then be worrying every day that my new boss was going to find out. Perhaps I’d thought about running for some political office, and would be scared my dark past would come back to haunt me.
Of course, it’s down to the individual.
One downside is that where we’re younger, wilder, perhaps a bit more immature, it seems great fun to post endless pictures of the wild nights in the bar, or, perhaps worse, videos of us having rowdy drunken fun. *
There’s a lot of talk recently about Facebook privacy. Many people post much information about themselves there. Twitter is another place where you see a surprising amount of personal information posted.
I would always recommend discretion myself. My take on it is this. I don’t really have any skeletons in my closet, but I’ve always worked on the premise that I only tell people what I want them to know. If I don’t tell you about the red and green striped wart on my rear end, you can’t even go and mention that to someone else by mistake, or because you were bursting to tell someone. I’m not burdening you with MY secrets that way. It’s similar online but for one BIG difference.
Back in say 1990, if someone took photographs of my drunken antics in the bar one evening, it would be something to giggle or groan at the following week among our group. Nowadays, they’re invariably posted on a service such as Facebook, often as they happen. By the time you sober up and realize, and contact your friend to get them taken down, millions of people, including a prospective employer may have seen them. Also, your friend may have posted them in other places you’re not even aware of!
The big complaint though about privacy on services such as Facebook is that many users feel that they’re not in control of what get posted publicly and what doesn’t. It should be the case that YOU can decide what is public in your profile and what is private. However, at the end of the day, don’t post anything online that you want to keep private. If, for example, you’re sensitive about your age, don’t put your full date of birth up there for everyone to see!
Same goes for anything else. Whatever service you use, if you really don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t put it online. Keep it locked away in your mind.
Many people feel that when they leave a service, they should be able to delete any information about themselves that is held by that service. Great idea, except we come back to that 1997 example I wrote about earlier. I left that ISP and the web space that went with it back in 2001, when I first got broadband, and the site itself had been changed a lot between 1997 and 2001 in any case. Data spreads around the Internet, that’s the nature of the beast.
Oh and as an aside don’t forget that when you get rid of a computer, be sure to delete the data on the drive first. Use a decent deletion utility – not just reformat the drive. If the data is really sensitive, consider removing the drive from the machine, and using it in a new machine, or if it’s too old or small, physically destroy it. Am I being over dramatic here? Better to be safe than sorry!
As a small business IT consultant, I am still surprised at some of the data that gets left on old computers that I get asked to dispose of. I guess I shouldn’t be by now.
Ultimately though, you ARE in charge of your privacy on social media sites. If it’s THAT private, don’t post it!
* (Personally, unless I thought someone had an alcohol problem, I’d rather employ someone that was a sociable happy type (assuming they had the required skill-set) than a stuffed shirt. However, not all employers think that way – particularly those that are stuffed shirts themselves).
I’m not usually one for posting much on here about the cogs and gears behind the blog, but I did post a little about the new WordPress 2.5 and some issues that I found, because I know many of you also use WordPress yourself.
Of course, like anything in life, there is always stuff to do backstage.
Adding some new cool widget to hopefully enhance your visits here for example, and also making sure that everything is kept as up to date as possible to minimize security breaches, and other bugs.
It’s much the same with web sites in general, which is something I spend a large part of my day working on. Getting that web page to look ‘just right’ can take some hours of tinkering and fine tuning at times. Of course, we all know that everyone else’s job is much more exciting and glamorous than ours don’t we?
Take myself. I told so often how ‘cool’ web design is. How wonderful to work from home, and how great to have your own business.
Well, yes. web design can be cool sometimes of course. It can at times be a huge pain the butt. Yes, it’s great to get to work from home; like many people that go out to work each day, it was something I always wanted to be able to do, and by and large I don’t dislike it at all. I don’t think I’m an unsociable type, but I do work more productively on my own, and I don’t need to get a fix of the office politics or gossip, that I’ve heard some home workers mention that they miss.
Having you r own business is great too, but, at least with a small business, you’re often the CEO, CFO, secretary, tea-boy, mailroom attendant, and worker all rolled into one. You don’t have a boss anymore do you? Well kinda sorta – you have numerous clients instead, who all think they ARE your boss (and in a way they are). It can be a real art juggling between them, and letting them think they are your #1 priority at all times. Like web design itself, some of those clients can be a huge pain in the butt too. The ones that need your expertise, but still know how to do everything they’ve hired you for, better than you do.
Count ten, smile sweetly. Remember, you only have to meet them from time to time. Pity the poor souls in the office that have to put up with them all day from 9-5.
Working from home you can be a slob if you want. You can drink coffee at your desk, or eat pizza while you work. Actually I do tend to do the former, as I’m a bit of a coffee-holic but not the former, as it does mess up the keyboard, and I’m not a pizza lover myself anyway.
I have a four o’clock rule.
“Go wild after four?”. said one.
“Yeah, 4am”, said another, joining in rapidly to disparage my good name.
Well, not quite. I like a beer after work sometimes. So to make sure it is after work, my rule is no beer before four on a workday. You see, once I sit back in the chair with that cold beer, I don’t want to get back at the keyboard again.
Well ok, sometimes. Like now. It’s 11.15pm, I have a cold beer on the desk here while I write this, but I have no intention of doing any more work until tomorrow morning at 8am.
So, dear readers, with that, I really will kick back, and enjoy this ice-cold brew, and bid you all goodnight.