When I was in high school, my creative writing teacher taught us the importance of keeping a record of our personal growth. He suggested keeping a journal, but to us that was too private, too personal; a teenager vying to be heard had to take to a platform that was able to make the masses understand what a hard and misunderstood life we lived as teens…so we took to MySpace.
I ranked my fiends, had pointless arguments about shifting people from space two to five in the Top 8, and my friends and I took our frustrations to keyboard and Web pages instead of the pages in a notebook that would have sufficed. What we did not understand at the time of the emotional outpours upon the web diary we all confided in was the digital imprint we were leaving behind as we got older. The nonsensical stories and poems written about things we would forget in the upcoming collegiate years would be left as part of the online history of our identity.
In graduate school we talk a lot about building our personal brands; if a potential employer were to Google us and piece together a general idea of who we are via Web presence, would the picture of our younger selves help or hinder our personal brand? I vaguely remembered what my high school web presence was like, so I dusted off the cobwebs of my MySpace login to take a look.
If only I could have hopped in the Delorean and saved myself from a few of the embarrassing and pointless posts that have been left on that MySpace blog page. Posts about meaningless crushes, dodging detention and poorly directed relationship advice that came from a girl who knew nothing about the topic circa 2006 have had more views than I’d care to allow see the younger me express those things.
Although it was slightly difficult to read through the writings of a younger me, it was fun to compare notes from now to then and see the personal growth in who I have become, what my interests are and how I choose to express myself and my personal brand. My younger self had the promise of being a decent writer and I ended up following that path, but perhaps it would have been best to just take my creative writing teacher up on the suggestion of purchasing a journal.
Social media education wasn’t around in my day; my Catholic school teachers shunned the idea and banned MySpace and Facebook from the computer labs; however, if we had been coached on how to use it properly and effectively, we might not have been so apt to spill heart upon webpage. Although we can learn more about being effective on social media platforms, classrooms today are still struggling with the implications of social media.
Since then, blogging and the Facebook notes section have become the new journals and young people are willing to pour their hearts out via social media not understanding that they too will have to account for what has been posted or said in the emotional bouts of young adulthood. They will see their lives develop via Facebook timeline, but will the be proud of what they see? Was their any growth and does the profile reflect an accurate depiction of who they are?
The younger Web navigators may not know about building a personal brand but it’ll hit them sooner or later. Have you checked YOUR younger you’s social media platforms? What does it say about where you’re going and where you’ve been?