Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Use Your Name Wisely, Have No (few) Regrets Later

How often do you leave a comment on another blog? A review site? A forum? Do you use your real name? Or something off the wall, like kittyclaws39, 123abc, or buhby (these just came to mind...for the record I do not use these names).

I use my name. But not Kathy Milette, the name most people know me by. I use Kathryn Milette. Why? I don't know...I just started and stuck to it. If you do a search for Kathy Milette, you'll most likely find out about my rowing career in college. If you search for Kathryn Milette, you'll find my social media involvement. If I really analyzed it (it doesn't take much effort), I use the name Kathryn Milette for professional reasons. I only post comments and thoughts that I won't (hopefully) regret anyone seeing, either now or 10 years from now.

I sometimes imagine the political impact if our current presidential hopefuls used social media outlets when they were kids. It's already relatively easy to find dirt on any one of them. But what if those hopefuls had had MySpace pages where they posted racy pictures of themselves from a frat party? (I wish this were the case for a certain Oregon mayor who shall not be named, but hers were posted intentionally and recently.)

Or if they posted some strong, questionable opinions to a political forum? Opinions that youth, idealism and naivete influenced, but came roaring back to bite them in the you know what 30 years later.

When choosing to use your real name in social media circles, you are essentially etching your opinions and thoughts in stone. Only this stone is indexed by search engines and is highly retrievable.

It may sound premature and doomsday-ish, but I think this is a good lesson to teach our kids in this online, engaged, interactive day and age. Not only is it safer for children not to post personal information online, but it's probably a wise career move, too. They won't care now, but they will probably (definitely) regret some of the things they made public when they were just being stupid kids.