So much so, that the CEO of Google made a troubling prediction.
Eric Schmidt, the head of the search engine behemoth, spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the enormous amount of information available online on just about everyone, whether they like it or not. In the interview, "He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites." (Read the Wall Street Journal article here.)
Perhaps you have experienced this yourself. You are at a party, or even out on the street, and someone takes an unflattering picture of you. They email it to someone else, with no bad intentions, only to say, "Hey, look at this picture - it's pretty funny!" Then, they email it to someone else, and so on and so on, and eventually a person you DO NOT know posts it on a social networking site.
Instant embarrassment. And nearly impossible to reverse.
I would have to imagine this happens to young people far more than adults because of the prominence of internet and technology in their lives, and because they seem to make more bad decisions in their youth.
And so, going back to CEO Schmidt's prediction. What is the best option to erase a past that you cannot escape online?
Outright change your name. Legally.
Is that fair? Of course not. Is this the future? I don't know, and maybe you don't either. But don't you think something has to give?
Will we continue to diminish our privacy by placing a camera in every room, at every street corner, in every store, on every car, and have literally millions of them travelling all over the place in the form of cell phones held by human beings?
As Shakespeare (and much later, Rush) noted, "All the world's a stage."
Does it have to be? And does that very fact change the way we act as individuals and toward other people? Are we just playing roles of expectations?
Are we real?