I intended on only taking a 15-minute break from my horrendous LSAT reading comprehension practice book to check on Twitter, but I ended up getting distracted for 2 hours. When I logged onto my Twitter, I noticed the types of organizations and people that are starting to follow my tweets and started to feel embarrassed – My Twitter username is “@KAT_astrophik,” a deviation of my nickname ‘Kat’ that I thought I was oh-so-clever for coming up with when I was younger in case I wanted to pursue a career as a rapper. Well, I never did decide to go that route, so I spent a good 10 minutes trying to find an available username that is not as embarrassing and decided to go with @Kaytilan, the Filipino equivalent of my name. It may not have been a big deal, but I didn’t want the Utah Democratic Party or The Hill Newspaper to think I was a loser for choosing such a silly username.
After that, I thought, “Hm. I wonder if there’s anything else on the world wide web that I would be ashamed of if anyone found.” So I googled my name. Kathleen Villanueva is a common name, so nothing really popped up besides my LinkedIn Account, videos from the Miss Asia Pageant I participated in years ago, and a funny but well-written article I was interviewed for by an old classmate about the challenges of growing up as an Asian in Utah (heh!).
BUT when I googled my name AND location, I gasped in horror. My MySpace account popped up with all the ugliness from my adolescent years. My name was written in alternating upper and lower case letters, with “3’s” as “E’s.” The qualities I had chosen to highlight about myself in my self-written bio were ones that I wouldn’t choose to emphasize today. And of course, my profile photo was self-taken at a weird angle and I was making a face that I probably thought was cute at the time. [Just admit it, your MySpace profile probably looked like this too!] I struggled trying to remember the password to my login, but as soon as I finally figured it out, I immediately blocked my page so future employers will not have to experience the awkwardness and discomfort that I just had.
Our generation grew up using Social Media, and I’m pretty certain that future generations will probably become dependent on it for networking and for finding job opportunities. Dating sites have brought some of the happiest couples together, people troubleshoot together and talk about similar technical issues on forums when their iPhones or computers break. I think it’s especially cool that the most specific groups, like students studying for the LSAT or even ECU tuning enthusiasts can get together on special forums dedicated to these particular topics and communicate with each other. [The two examples I decided to cite are forums that my boyfriend and I actually use! Heh!] And of course, Facebook is not only a way to discreetly poke into others’ business, but it’s also an excellent way of bragging about your accomplishments and determining who is really your friend by keeping track of how many times they “like” your statuses. There are a lot a benefits to getting connected with others online, and I think it’s really cool that we are able to get connected in that way.
However, the thing that made me initially want to even write this post is of course the downside to it. As I illustrated above, social media totally sticks your personal life out there. You really need to be careful of what types of things you say or pictures you upload, because the whole world is able to look at whatever you decide to share. 7 years ago when I made my Myspace profile, I didn’t ever acknowledge that I was eventually going to grow up and that the terrible pictures of myself throwing up peace signs could potentially hinder me from being taken seriously. Or I’m sure that UCLA student who just wanted to vent about her frustration with loud Asians in the library didn’t anticipate that her decision to upload such an immature and arrogant video would create a lot of fuss about racism, get national attention on the news and cause my Facebook Newsfeed to be vandalized with a dozen copies of her video. And even the people who upload those INCREDIBLY stupid Willy Wonka memes with the sarcastic phrases probably don’t know that I think less of each person who posts them because they annoy the shit out of me.
It’s pretty neat that we can easily connect with others and share information on the internet, and it’s incredible how reliant our generation is on this concept now. I once heard a saying that said something along the lines of, “I wonder what the world would be like without Google. Maybe I should Google it.” It’s a useful tool that our generation is lucky to have grown up with, not just because the internet made it so we didn’t have to use encyclopedias to find information to write papers after elementary school. But we really should be careful about what we share because one day when you are one of two contenders being considered for that big-girl job you’ve been fighting for, you might find a “I regret to inform you”-letter in your email because all the hiring manager had to do was Google your name to find trashy pictures of you and your drunk friends on Party Utah.