The other day I was talking with somebody who had very recently joined Facebook (yes, seems some people don't have Facebook, I'm shocked too). Not having been a big user of social networking websites until that moment, she talked about feeling very exposed: having photos of yourself up there for the world to see, and how the social aspect of your life is now visible to work colleagues or potential employers (as many people do like to keep those sides of their lives separate).
This isn't the first time I've heard these topics brought up when it comes to the social web - one friend in particular mentions these points as arguments for not joining Facebook, which kinda sucks because that person lives in Australia, so the keeping-in-touch stuff is all done through e-mail. Maybe it's time I gave these subjects a bit of thought, I said to myself.
Personally, I haven't had too much fear of putting myself out there on the big bad internet. I run a personal website with my name plastered all over it so that Google can index me, and my e-mail address is just 1 click away from potential spambot loving.
My Facebook profile isn't any better either; everyone on my friends list sees the same thing: photos of me being stupid at parties of weekends past, my sometimes-personal Twitter-sized status updates, and work mates can just as easily read my posts about my latest work-related gripes.
Maybe it is time I started taking the face I show to the internet - which is the face I wear in real-life - a bit more seriously by putting some leash or restraint on it, because throughout my online life (some 14 or 15 years now) it's probably only dumb luck that has protected me from the consequences of being this open. Or maybe, I'm just not a good target: I'm not a big company, I'm not a famous person, I don't have lots of money, I don't wield any power, nor am I any combination of the above.
And I'm definitely not an Attractive Young Female.
OK, let's be realistic: I'm not even 1 of those 3 key words in the paragraph above, but because of what I'm not, I reduce the size of the pool of potential people I could be afraid of on the internet. Creepy old men don't want me, I'm too old for paedophiles and cradle-snatchers, and straight-guy stalkers ain't coming here for their fix.
As for my current employers or anybody in my future to whom I look to for work? Well, lets just hope that they not only want to add some programmer / web designer to their teams, but also want to inject some personality and honesty into their company (because with my ugly mug, those 2 traits are all I've got going for me now).