Managing Your Digital Footprint

You know who you are. You know what sort of person you are. You know that when the time came for you to be counted - even though you didn't have to -- you signed up to do your civic duty to the best of your ability.

You served as a member of the armed forces, you appeared promptly when called to serve as a member of a jury - and you didn't whinge (much) or otherwise attempt to shirk that duty.

You know that you're a basic bloke - honest to a fault. Your SO knows better than to ask you if those pants make them look fat? Unless they actually want an honest answer to that question they won't ask.

You can be trusted with the drunken sister/daughter/mother of your mates because even if nobody else would know you did something of questionable moral character YOU would know, and that alone is sufficient to prevent a bad decision.

You know that your interest in collecting milk bottle tops is not a sign that your geeky proclivities are taking over your life. You like MMO's and you feel justifiably proud of your Level 100 Shaman - the idea of putting that sort of effort into a supporting class doesn't strike you as dumb at all, because you LIKE being that guy who saves the party in a pitched battle.

It makes you feel good and that's part of the reason you did it in the first place!

You know that your passion for fishing, gaming, and jumping out of perfectly good aeroplanes at altitude does not define who you are as a person, but rather it serves as a flavoring element for conversation, and it helps explain your own fascination with adrenalin. You know you don't actually have a death-wish.

The point to all this?

The point is that (with the exception of the people who know you IRL) the vast majority of the people you know online (and have never met face to face) actually think you are a geeky douche with a savior complex who has clearly declared just how totally into yourself you are. You are very definitely NOT someone they would want their sister to date – in fact based on what they know of you as a person they would not date YOUR sister because it would mean having a relationship with you!

They formed that impression from your digital footprint mate, because when it comes right down to it, that is your calling card to the world and the only information most folks have to judge you by.

Besides that, it must be an accurate assessment of you because -- after all mate you posted two-thirds of it yourself, right?

If the idea of other people seeing you as a person who is the diametric opposite of who you actually are in real life bothers you, then we need to spend some time examining your digital footprint mates...

Whether you intended it or not, your digital footprint says all sorts of unflattering things about you – including the untrue and more often, the unintended.

People are judging you for posts and expressions that you made that represent bare seconds of your real life – posts that contain emotions that surfaced largely when you were in a very bad place, perhaps on some of the worse days of your life, and yet once you said those things ONLINE, you can never take them back. Ever.

The question then comes in two parts: (1) Are you aware of how your digital footprint makes you look? And (2) do you want to do something about that?

The point to the above - as unkind as it is - was to emphasize the fact that we often fail to see ourselves through other people's eyes and, what is worse, we often view ourselves through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. There are basically two points of focus that we must embrace when we set out to manage our Digital Footprint - the first point is illustrated above.  The second point is seizing control of our identity.

Those two paths are divided below - on the left is the moral and ethical view - and on the right is our identity and control of it. (Work in Progress)

Moral and Ethical Forces

Identity Control

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