What if I told you that with each decision you make, consciously or unconsciously, you are building a house that bears your family name over the front door? Now, what if I told you that your future grandchildren will see this house you built constructed of materials consisting of Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and Instagram images? If you raised your eyebrows and shifted uncomfortably in your seat, then you had the same reaction I did when someone posed this question to me just days ago.
You see, we are living in a new digital era where we use media in a way that allows the Internet to contain an unprecedented amount of detail about our lives. We are writing new history books about an era that has yet to exist long enough to be able to look back with much hindsight. I don't doubt that future generations will say they use media differently as a direct result of learning from our mistakes of communicating choices and opinions in an extremely public way.
Way back in history, a person's last name wasn't perceived to be unique to that individual. The name was representative of a family household and each member's decisions reflected upon the family as a whole. Poor or reckless decisions quickly, and powerfully, brought shame to a family name.
Today, we live in a different kind of world. We are much more individualistic and don't often care to associate our name and reputation with a larger group. We feel entitled to believe that our decisions are set to impact our lives alone and the image we choose to project in various outlets may or may not be relevant to anything beyond the moment of that post. If this is a thought process that rings familiar, then I challenge you to see things a bit differently.
I found it intimidating and bit overwhelming to realize that being a participant in the forefront of this era of information overload will allow future generations to quickly and creatively associate all members of my household through a simple "googling" of a name. To go even further and more dramatically with this idea, I could suggest that future generations will be able to purchase a DVD from Google or Microsoft that contains all the photos, tweets, and status updates posted to any timeline. We are building our own digital time capsule and one day it will be the building blocks that collectively create the house bearing our name.
So, I'll pose to you the same question as before, but now within hopefully a different context. What if I told you that the decisions you make today are building the house bearing your family name over the door? Just be mindful and thoughtful this holiday season. I, for one, plan to start "checking in" to every important library and museum in town and will be filtering all my photos, so that my grandchildren will wonder my true age for years to come as they squint through my faded Instagram images.
Images courtesy of Diverseeducation.com, Rustieblue.com
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