Managing Your Personomy In the World Without Privacy Boundaries
Unless you’ve lived in a cave in a desert, for the past three years or so, you must have noticed the social revolution that took over the Internet. Some call it “blogging craze”, yet others prefer to more fashionably number-version the Web into “2.0”. Either way, the reality is that mass-services like MySpace and YouTube stormed into our lives and changed them forever, both online and offline. To further complicate the matters, Google made it possible for your boss to find the little MySpace profile you meant only for your boyfriend’s amusement.
Personomies are digital manifestations of an individual. They combine identity (who you are), activity (what you do) and “sociality” (who you know) - Pierre-Guillaume Wielezynski.
Any reasonably web-literate hiring manager will Google your name before making the final decision. What does she find in the first three pages of the search results can determine your career. Have you “googled” yourself? Do you know what your personomy on Google looks like?
The wrong perception many people share is thinking that Web only “knows” what they’ve “told” it. Getting “dooced” - publishing something your employer (current or future) may not like used to be the most common way of getting in trouble. Not anymore, at least - not the only way, by far.
Significant part of your personomy is “sociality” - who you know and who talks about you online. If you are in your teens or twenties, most of your friends probably blog in one way or another, or at least have Myspace, Friendster etc. profile. Even if you don’t have one, they may publish something and it will effect you nevertheless. Do you think your boss cares whether the a-la “gone-wild” photo with you in it that he found online was on your blog or your best girl-friend’s? Imagine that you are applying for a deputy-sheriff position or for a very uptight law firm and a photo like that pops up?
Most web pages stay online for a long period of time. It is not unusual photos and texts from years before to surface. The careless decisions you may have made when you were younger can haunt you years after. Unfortunately, younger generation does not yet understand how important digital identity - personomy has become. And it will only increase in importance, as more and more people will start checking the personomy of people they consider for hire or for going in business with.
You have to take care of your personomy.
First - know the current state of your personomy - monitor it. Second - try to improve it. If the first search hit is some stupid blog post your careless friend wrote about you, counter it - go to the professional forums, bulletin boards and blogs and get into conversations there. Popular blogs and forums are indexed often by Google and have high rank. Most probably your posts on these websites will take lead over the things you do not want to pop up and will squeeze the unwanted content to deeper pages in the search results. Any content that shows up on 5th or latter page in the search results is not anything to worry much about.
If you don’t like your personomy, you can improve it, but it takes time so - start now.