As I have explored the world of blogging, especially microblogging, like Twitter, there appears to be a cloud of fear that can potentially limit one’s expression due to the possibility of online harassment and retribution. After all, we are living in a world where world leaders openly and unapologetically attack people for their personal beliefs, looks, heritage and such. Could it be that there is a generation of online personalities that as Prensky (2001) says “have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age” (p. 1). And, if these are the online personalities that are deeply entrenched in negative web-based interaction, why do they lack where the ability to be digital obtrusive takes precedence over common decency? First, it can be alure of interacting with anonymity which may give some a sense of independence that is absent in physical world life. Second, it could also be the lack of exposure to netiquette education. Because some are digital natives, or on the other end of the spectrum–new digital users—the potential to not how fully understand the impact of a digital footprint is absent. Third, some individuals simply do not care what impact they make online no matter how dangerous or combative it comes off. Fine, but at least do so without trying to be a ghost. After all, this is how you feel, let it be known, right?
The reality is digital natives have unique opportunities to build positive social profiles that could potentially impact their futures. For example, as college admissions have become more and more selective, admissions officers are more often turning to social media profiles for information on prospective applicants. Not so much in larger state universities, but in a small selective liberal arts school. With a smaller applicant pool, they are more inclined to undergo a more thorough look at applicants. These schools tend to offer generous need-based scholarships and desire to know as much about an applicant as they can. In an article by CNN Family, they polled admissions advisors who said 35% of campuses do in fact search applicant social media profiles. This article also states that 47% of what they found is positive behavior. This same survey also indicated that 42% of the information was negative. Regarding athlete applicants, the number of social media viewing increases exponentially. Why? If a blog or microblog like Twitter were set up over seven years ago (while the potential applicant was in junior high school) their profile would show an accurate picture of the characteristics of this person in chronological ordering. It can certainly be a better picture of who the individual is rather than the Common Application they fill out for multiple schools. But, not everybody that you are on display for the world and your digital footprint is forever.
Another online observation that came as a result of the incidences in Charlottesville including the murder of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist was the flooding of personal information to online blogging platforms, especially Twitter. As a result of this incident, doxing of individuals became a common practice by the online community. Results of this doxing included some losing employment, enrollment at universities, and banishment from families. As my searching down the rabbit hole continued, I discovered that doxing was not just happening to active participants in these rallies, but innocent bystanders and those that were trying to organize peaceful demonstrations. For example, I discovered a young man that was publishing personal information of oppositional rally organizers for a rally that was going to take place in Laguna Beach. They were releasing names of minors, where they work, tax info and more. None of these practices strike any fear in myself, but I do find myself at the very least, evaluating the purpose and meanings of this practice and why one desires to do so. So with that, I encourage all to post with purpose and directness and to be aware of those that have cruel intentions.