Buried in my archives is a post titled “Blogs, The New Electronic Paper Trail”. Having reread the article and the comments inspired me to revisit this issue.

In the post/comments we discussed how we expose ourselves via our blogs, and how what we say, can be detrimental to us, our families, and/or our careers.

Some will say, “It’s my blog and I can do whatever I want with it.”, and that is true.  However, in the event we work, or will work “for the man”, how we project ourselves online can come back to haunt us.

I’m reminded of how President Obama used a questionnaire asking those who were interested in working in his administration to answer 63 questions, including some that were directed at the applicant’s online activities. According to Freedom Eden these questions were,

(10) Writings: Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any post or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or “handles” you have used to communicate on the Internet.

(58) Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)

(61) Have you had any association with any person, group or business venture that could be used – even unfairly – to impugn or attack your character and qualifications for government service?

(63) Please provide any other information, including information about other members of your family, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect.

Although most of us won’t go on to work in the Administration of the President, some companies may begin to adopt the same guidelines.

Today’s Lesson

Anyone online is creating a resume of sorts. An electronic paper trail.

In recent years more companies began admitting they are “Googling” the names of prospective employees. Clients are doing the same for businesses they plan to deal with. Employers and clients want to know the person they’re hiring/dealing with is authentic.

Obviously what we say and or do with our blogs would be easy to track, but what we say on social media networks such as Twitter, FaceBook and MySpace is no different   As an example,  if you click on my Twitter profile page, you can read each and every tweet I’ve ever sent.

On my StumbleUpon profile, you can read which sites I’ve reviewed and what I wrote.

Many bloggers feel more comfortable and loosen up when commenting on another blog, and may say something they normally wouldn’t post on their own blog. Maybe it’s something a little negative, borderline bashing and/or something politically incorrect. We may think our comments are off limits; after all, how could someone possibly find every comment we’ve ever left in blogosphere?

News Flash.  Our comments are also being documented.

In a recent search for “tracking blog comments” I’ve found a site named Back Type. When I typed in my name, it showed how many comments I’ve left and each one is listed – word for word.  Although I question if this may be a form of plagiarism (lifting comments from blogs), for now it’s out there.

In this economy where companies are trying to keep and/or hire the cream of the crop and the competition for available positions is brutal, we need to think about the paper trail we’re leaving in blogosphere.

What bread crumbs have you left behind?

Today’s Assignment

Do you ever worry about what you post online?

How do you feel about having your every keystroke is monitored?

Should our privacy be protected, or is that just the nature of the game?

I feel this is a very important subject and would love to hear your input.


Photo Credit: TheeErin
Wherever you go, whatever you do, whoever you are, YOU ARE UNDER SURVEILLANCE because you are a potential criminal, perhaps you secretly doubt the sanctity of corporate property, or the validity of laws made by the rich to govern the poor, or the soundness of capitalism itself–we can’t afford to assume you don’t. That’s why there are video cameras pointed at every cashier and police cars circling every block. Left to itself, a state of disorder and inequity returns to equilibrium; our job is to perpetuate this one indefinitely. Department of Homeland Security. “In Suspicion We Trust!”

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Look Who's Talking
  1. RibbonNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not a “Career” orientated person, so on that level I’m not concerned.

    What does concern me is that we still live in a society riddled with fear and that a need has been created to track our every word and movement.

    Anything we give of ourselves leaves us open to all sorts of scrutiny. If that then becomes an overwhelming concern… best to stay in bed with the covers over ones head 🙂

    PS I’m practising not to worry about anything…….

    best wishes ……… I really like your blog x

    Ribbon´s last blog post..Technical Information?

  2. I’m with Ribbon on the whole culture of fear thing. While I practice “don’t put anything online you don’t want shown on the evening news” I find the questions that Obama asked on his questionnaire saddening.

    Why must only absolutely perfect people work in government? We’re human and we have our less than perfect moments. But of course, politics is less about the integrity of walking the the talk and more about dragging down whomever you can with whatever ammunition you can find.

    Good thing I have no interest in politics or corporate work.

    One other thought… The books I write are Young Adult. I’m certain that if (when) I make it big, there will be someone who finds something “inappropriate” about me online. I’m prepared for that with a “I’m not just a YA writer. I’m also a person. Get over it.” response. 😉


    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Need some butt-kicking? Someday Syndrome needs new Lab Rats

  3. I am software security and performance engineer. After so long time in the profession i witnessed a lot….
    I have accepted the fact that “true” privacy is something that once was alive – now it’s dead.
    I accepted the fact that everything i do – want it or not – is under surveillance.
    I accepted it and I behave accordingly 😉

  4. Perhaps this is another freedom that the self-employed need to cherish? The freedom to truly not care about our virtual footprint because we are immune to the judgment of others. Like Ribbon said it’s all so fear-based.

    Have I ever been concerned that I’ve spoken too freely when commenting? Yes I have and that concern is a wonderful time to self-examine and ask what am I really afraid of?

    Some will like us.
    Some won’t.
    So what.

    It’s the so what that really allows me to embrace my freedom to be me. Anyone outside of me cannot hurt me.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog post..Building Career Confidence by Feeling Deeply

  5. Tom – great comment! Ditto, ditto, ditto!

    As I was reading your post, Barbara, I thought: at this point, I have no need to be concerned about what a potential employer might glean from my trail, as I work for myself. I don’t plan to apply for employment at a company that might resort to such a search, but one never knows. I’ve contacts on LinkedIn and now Facebook and see what they’re up to and posting.

    The only other nefarious or questionable use I could see for examining my trail would be A) if I run for public office and B) if the government decides it wants to know all it can about me. A) never gonna happen and B) have at it. 😛

    What’s somebody want to know from an old biddy like me, anyway? Thanks, Barbara.

    Betsy Wuebker´s last blog post..RUSH TO JUDGEMENT? WHAT’S THE HURRY? ARE ALL HANDS ON DECK?

  6. ScottNo Gravatar says:

    Do I ever worry about what I post online? – It comes and goes. I do share a lot of, what some would call, personal information on my blog. People I don’t know very well, know me more than some of my close friends. When I have worries, though, they are often discounted by my thoughts of “I don’t want to hide ANYTHING, any more”, if that makes sense.

    As far as keystrokes being monitored, I pretty much expected it and am OK with it, I guess. I mean, it’s the internet, you know?

    I’m thinking it’s just the nature of the game. As I’ve thought about your last question, I’ve come up with a pretty crappy analogy that I will share.

    When I go to the “Walmarts” people see me. Duh. Most don’t know me but they can sometimes judge me by what I am doing. If I don’t want to be thought of as some lunatic, I don’t do as lunatics do. If I don’t want people to know what color underwear I’m wearing, I won’t wear my pants below my butt (no, I don’t EVER wear my pants like that. 🙂 ) If I don’t want to be scrutinized then I don’t do anything to be scrutinized for.
    The “internets” is a “Walmarts.” We are all walking around online and people see us. If we don’t want something private, logged and spread around the other sites, we don’t say it. If we don’t think people should know what color our underwear is, we just don’t publish it 🙂 .

    Just my thoughts.

    Scott´s last blog post..The Results Are In

  7. I do worry to a small degree. My way to dealing with it is simple. I believe that as long as I’m honest in every interaction I have nothing to hide. If someone calls me on the carpet, I’ll tell them that’s how I felt.

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matters´s last blog post..Productivity is a State of Mind

  8. LingNo Gravatar says:

    Do I worry about my online trail? Yes I do. That usually happens about 5 seconds after I post something stupid which I cannot take back. Doesn’t last, though. It’s usually gone by the time I post my next stupid comment.

    As for how I feel about being monitored – So long as you’re being authentic, it hardly matters whether or not someone is keeping track. The problem comes when you’re caught in a lie, or doing something wrong. Don’t do either, and you’ll be fine.

    And there is no privacy, if you post something in the public domain. That’s like saying people should cover their ears because you don’t want them to listen to you sing in public. You want to sing, sing in your bathroom.

  9. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t worry about it too much. As I’ve said before on this issue, if I’m just true to myself and how I behave in real life, I will have nothing to worry about so far as what’s online.

    When I did a search using Back Type, all I found was an excerpt with a link to the original comment, about the same amount of information that I would expect from a search engine on any other search.

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..Eyes of the Great Depression 012

  10. I definitely keep myself in line knowing this. While it would nice to vent my frustration sometimes via comments, it’s not worth burning a potential bridge. Since there are other ways for me to express those feelings, I prefer to do it in a non-trackable way.

    At the same time, I think many of us do ourselves a service with the comments we leave and content trail we create. Pretty much all the folks in this community demonstrate on a daily basis that they’re intelligent, friendly, and engaged. Maybe that’s a good thing–showing interest in and knowledge of a variety of topics.

    Sara at On Simplicity´s last blog post..How to Party Like a Five Year Old

  11. RyanNo Gravatar says:

    I definitely worry about what I say online. However, it gives me incentive to not apply for stiff corporate jobs…. It’s not that I lay into people and their mothers on a daily basis, but I’m not afraid to be myself.

    That said, I enjoy the semi-transparency the internet sometimes offers. The more an employer knows the better. And if they’re smart, they won’t assume that because you have no online record, that your resume says everything about you.

    Employers who increasingly interact online will begin to see the beauties. Sure, they know how to use google now, but when they actually start using twitter and facebook to promote their business, we’re going to see a shift in the hiring process. Who you know will become more important… and when you really know someone, even in an online environment, you’re more forgiving of their occasional rants.

    Ryan´s last blog post..Response: Zoë’s photo prompt

  12. That Back Type was surprising. Although it didn’tlist everything it does a surprisingly good job.

    I was also surprised how easy it was to look up other names and see what they are up to.

    It is a scary world but we should not be surprised. I guess we all know that if we do anything online it can be found if someone really wants to.

    the three dog blogger´s last blog post..Shy Dog Training

  13. NeilNo Gravatar says:

    This is a great question Barbara and it goes far beyond just what we write on various sites. My opinion is if I’m going to write it I need to be able to stand behind it today, tomorrow and a year from now. I also work for a multi-national corporation. While I don’t advertise who I work for online, I wouldn’t want my boss to find something I’ve written that puts me in a bad light.

    On another front there was a recent ruling here in Canada by a Provincial Supreme Court Judge that indicates where you have been online is not private. Which means that police can check your online activity without a warrant. While the most likely case of this usage is for crimes I won’t comment on here it does raise the question of how accessable this information is and how that might change in the future. Can your prospective employer ask for an Internet usage report on you? Right now no, in the future perhaps.

    Neil´s last blog post..Let Jason Slash Your Valentine’s Budget

  14. No, I don’t worry about what I post online. I am always aware that everything I say online, whether on my blog, on other blogs or in social media, is very, very public. I don’t think I have ever crossed the line into writing something that would turn off a potential employer.

    Edited to add: sometimes when I’m in doubt about a post on my own blog, I consult my husband who’s been in the corporate world for years. If he okays something, I know I can go ahead and post it.

  15. ToyLadyNo Gravatar says:

    I guess I’m of two minds on this topic.

    On the one hand, I don’t write anything – on my blog or others’ – that I’d be embarrassed by or ashamed of. And as for any future potential employers, well, I suspect that if anything I did write caused a problem with a potential job, it’s not the job for me.

    On the other hand, though, there is a bit of a fear (paranoia?) in the back of my mind that BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. While right now I don’t have anything to be embarrassed by, who knows what the future will bring? Maybe I’ll be of the “wrong” political affiliation or maybe “honesty” will be read as “rabble-rousing” or “civil unrest” – or maybe something I haven’t even thought of yet. (Excuse me while I adjust my tin-foil hat. . . )

    But at what point do I allow fear of what COULD happen stop me from being myself?

    Thanks again, Barbara, for such a thought-provoking topic.

    ToyLady´s last blog post..Fear and loathing

  16. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    Working for the church for so many years, I learned how to work in the public eye and not be defensive – let me tell you having one parishioner write over 200 complaint letters to my Conference Minister and the Head of my church taught me many lessons.

    The greatest lesson is that most people are afraid or are motivated by fear.

    With the way my life has been, I am not very motivated by fear and that offends people who are….

    I think folks need to remember to think before they put it out…
    or have it double checked like Vered’s editor … we are not really flying as solo as we think.

    The Obama questionnaire has been going on for a very long time…. I believe this is just a sign of transparency being offered up.

    Good to keep reminding us and keep us aware…as we grow into our blogging persona Thank you

    Patricia´s last blog post..The Place I Want to Get Back To ~Mary Oliver

  17. I don’t imagine I will ever find myself in the postition of working for a boss, as such. But you never know.

    I just looked in to Back Type and it seems you have to sign up? So are all your comments accessible retroactively or just from the time you sign up, onwards?

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Armani Condom Heart — Inappropriate?

  18. As a freelancer writer for the past seven years, I’m happy to say I don’t have to worry about the whole job interview process in the same way I once did (and that was long before there was any trail of me online).

    But I think my blog is fairly personal and honest, so I often do wonder what my clients think if and when they read it. Once a brand-new client said to me “I spent a couple of hours last night reading your blog, so I really feel like I know you now!” Umm…great. It felt kind of strange, but that’s the nature of the kind of blog I write and the kind of work I do. I’m clearly not trying to keep any secrets, so what can I expect?

    I am starting to wonder, though, if I should do a bit more to protect my identity, or at least the identity of my children. Does anyone have good advice about that?

    Kristin T. (@kt_writes)´s last blog post..How fast can you really add?

  19. Ari KoinumaNo Gravatar says:

    I do take the idea of my online reputation seriously. But not too seriously, I hope — I also know that online, people don’t have that long of a memory. Unless I say something very personal, I don’t think it’s worth worrying about tarnishing your reputation with just a single comment or whatever — until you get very well-established, or you start thinking about running for office.


    Ari Koinuma´s last blog post..Disassociating Fear from Your Challenges

  20. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    Everything I post is public. That’s something I am well aware of. I wouldn’t post something online that I have problems saying in public.

    However, it’s true that, while I wouldn’t say certain things in front of certain types of people (out of politeness), there’s no way of keeping them from reading those thoughts. Even if they do get offended by them, well, it’s just too bad that they have to read it. I stand by what I said.

    Kelvin Kao´s last blog post..Upgraded to WordPress 2.7

  21. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    That site’s pretty cool! It’s a little scary how many comments I’ve left, though. I try to be pretty cautious about what I write. I’m sometimes surprised what some people with blog about. However, I wonder what some might think of my Facebook and Twitter comments. I don’t think there’s anything I’m overly concerned about, but it might have a few more items that others might interpret and questionable. I’m not running for office so I could care less about that aspect. For me, it’s simply a respect thing. I don’t think I should air my family feuds on the internet with a bunch of strangers. Because in the end, no matter how much we feel we might “know” someone in the blogosphere or twitter or facebook, for the most part, they are all still strangers.

    Debbie Yost´s last blog post..Potpourri – Down syndrome style

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ribbon – Thank you. Yes, we could pull the covers over our head, but practicing not to worry is probably a healthier choice. I think you’re on the right path.

    Hi Alex – Good question. And…where in the world does anyone find “perfect” people? For you being the author of books for young adults, being prepared puts you one step ahead of others, as you KNOW what could come down the pike. “Get over it” will be a great response.

    Hi Alik – I can imagine you’ve seen a lot. Behaving “accordingly” is subject to everyone’s definition, so it makes it interesting to see how others interrupt that.

    Hi Tom – The virtual footprint of the self employed can make us a little more immune, but I’m still concerned that I’m acting “appropriately” in the event clients (or potential clients) are reading my words.

    Hi Betsy – You’re welcome. You forgot one other thing. When you become a political blogger. 🙂 Which by the way, I agree with Pete, you need to revisit that “career”. You’re good!

    Hi Scott – I LOVE your answer to the last question. It reminds me of how we do make the choice to be exposed when we hit the publish button. It’s our choice to decide what to share.

    Hi Karl – Yes, honesty always is the best.

    Hi Ling – I agree. Authenticity is our friend. If we know we’ve done our best, having been honest and forthcoming, it’s unlikely our words will come back to haunt us.

    Hi Mike – Being true to ourselves is very important. Like you said, by doing that, we have nothing to worry about.

    When I did a search on BackType, it showed I had like 700+ comments on record and then listed them all. You must be flying under their radar.

    Hi Sara – I agree. It’s best to vent offline. Not only that, but once we vent, “it’s” gone. If we vent online, it’s there forever.

    You’ve brought us a good point. This topic in another “community” may gather totally different comments.

    Hi Ryan – ***smiles***I need to get used to your new avatar as I was so used to the Oktober 5 one.

    I’m thinking about what you wrote (about employers in the future), and that’s true. Employers may even be asking those in our communities for a recommendation regarding our online presence.

    You’ve also reminded me, it’s often those who do not expose (no, not in that way 🙂 ) their true selves online, we should be worried about.

    Hi Three Dog Blogger – That’s true. People can find out more about us than we’d like to admit – not just online, but off. It can be scary.

    Hi Neil – Thank you for sharing what Canada is doing. You’ve raised a good point. I do know there are many jobs where a security clearance is required, and adding online records might become a part of it. Currently many companies monitor the computer (and phone) activity of their employees, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see it go even further.

    Hi Vered – That’s a great idea to get the opinion of your husband on questionable posts. With his corporate experience, he would know what’s appropriate, and what’s not.

    Hi ToyLady – You’re welcome. Yes, Big Brother IS watching. I agree, it can cause fear, but as the others have said, by being true to ourselves and “acting appropriately”, we’ll be less apt to put ourselves in a compromising position. But…can we see a photo of you in that tin-foil hat? 🙂

    Hi Patricia – You’re welcome. That’s great advice – “think before we put it out, or have it double checked”. Transparency is quickly becoming the “norm”, and soon, more and more people will be expecting it from all of us.

    Hi Jannie – On BackType I didn’t sign up. I just typed in my name and hit “Enter”, and there they were…….

    Hi Kristin – That’s fascinating how your client spent a couple of hours reading your blog. They must have liked what they saw.

    As for protecting the identity of your children, I see that as a personal choice (ours are grown). However, we do have to remember there are a lot of perverts online who target the young.

    Hi Ari – Your comment made me think of how as new bloggers we often don’t worry about what we post online thinking we’ll never be a big name blogger, a politician, hold a public office, etc. But as life evolves, we’re often taken into different directions and end up in places we never imagined.

    Hi Kelvin – That’s true. “Some” may be offended by words we’ve written, but they also have the option of clicking off. We certainly can’t please everyone.

    Hi Debbie – Yes, they are all still strangers even though we see most who are in our communities as “friends”.

    One thing about airing family/friend feuds online is, in most cases the problem is resolved quickly, but if we post about it, it’s online forever.

  23. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve written so many articles before that I shudder to think sometimes what others may read. I also know that I am being tracked by a small minority. Like Ari, I take what I write seriously but hopefully not too seriously.

    I’m at heart authentic. I’m going through a journey while on the web. So what is more important is the here and now, and what is my reality. I write from that perspective. Hopefully, my new articles will reflect greater insight as I delve more deeply into my personal soul growth.

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..What The Movie Benjamin Button Taught Me About Time

  24. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi there Barbara – I found myself on Back Type, and I have apparently written 199 comments – making this one the 200th! I don’t know whether to congratulate you or me!

    I remember Lorelle saying on this blog to remember everything we ever write online will be saved somewhere, so as long as we bear that in mind, its OK. I’ve reacted emotionally a few times and wished I hadn’t said things – but it hasn’t been the end of the world.

    I think it’s interesting how so many people are willing to open themselves up to strangers knowing all about them – it shows an unprecedented level of trust is around, maybe?

    Robin´s last blog post..Fires In Victoria

  25. Hello Barbara…what interesting thoughts and questions. I agree with many of the comments already posted here. I do not feel that my privacy has been invaded. The internet is a very public place, after all.

    I’m not ashamed and feel no fear about anything I’ve posted, ever. I accept responsibility for being respectful, even if I am not in agreement with someone. I “voice” myself accordingly, too, if writing something that might be considered controversial.

    Good blog!

  26. I wouldn’t be too bothered if my employer read my Gleeful blog because it’s pretty innocuous, but I have posted a lot of personal stuff on my myspace blog – I would be mortified if my employers (and my family) read that. Which is why my myspace profile is private and my blog is friends only, and I’m careful about who knows my online name.

    It had never occurred to me that all the comments I have posted on blogs would be able to be dredged up by a search engine. I googled my online name last week and was surprised at everything that came up. Though when I think about it now, it’s not that surprising. I certainly will bear that in mind…

    Frisky Librarian´s last blog post..Return of glee

  27. FriarNo Gravatar says:

    Oh, I’m VERY aware of what I post on-line, and I’m careful.

    I live in a small town. Last year, I wrote a few letters to the editor to the local paper. Which some seniors didn’t like and 6 months later I was still being pointed out in grocery stores and the golf course as the “letter writer”. I even had a senior stalker! (Who phoned me several times and came to my door once!).

    So you can imagine, what would happen if I ranted about the work place (the town’s only employer) or the town itself…and used my real name?

    Not to mention the threat of getting “Dooced” if I complain about my company in too much detail.

    No. I keep everything generic…no real names. No specific dates. No specific towns. Just in case something comes back to bite me on the ass one day.

    Friar´s last blog post..Six Things about Valentine’s Day that Suck

  28. I have a website on porn addiction. I don’t have a boss but if I needed one it makes me wonder what he/she would think of such a topic. Some don’t believe it’s an addiction.

    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post..Joyful Days and A Flip Mino HD

  29. CG WaltersNo Gravatar says:

    The result of our online (and offline) openness coming back to haunt us may not be comfortable, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We are given the option, be genuine and accept the implications, or be covert and prosper in an increasingly disingenuous life.
    PS….the option of ‘being saintly’ is still not a fix, because sainthood is subjective, and if you live it–but it is not your nature–you may find that your ‘saint’ may be your prospective employer/association’s devil. And for that, you will have been living someone else’s life.
    peace and wonder,

    CG Walters´s last blog post..CelebraZine 13Feb09

  30. TumblemooseNo Gravatar says:


    Before I started blogging, I learned a couple of very valuable MySpace lessons. At the time, I was a bit naive about everything and felt like the internet was this big black hole in space, and no one would ever read anything that little ol’ me put on a MySpace page.

    Created an embarrassing situation or two, it did.

    So now my MySpace is gone and I am cognizant of the potential impact of what I choose to post.



    Tumblemoose´s last blog post..Who reads your writing?

  31. simonNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have a myspace or bebo or facebook page, my mates might post pictures that I would rather not have put in front of possible employers.

    simon´s last blog post..David Nieper Pretty Sleeve Nightdress now just £58.23

  32. I agree with Alik there really is not privacy online or off. Every site you visit, whether you are commenting or not, can be tracked by your IP address. You can go to great lengths to do everything anonymously but I still question that. For true privacy we would need to not have social security number nor use any computer that wasn’t a public one like at the library. We would have to live outside of society.

    So, I don’t worry too much about my comments or what I do online. I don’t tend to get involved in controversy and I think I have a decent reputation.

    Kim Woodbridge´s last blog post..How to Remove “Says” From WordPress 2.7 Threaded Comments

  33. Barbara, I did sign up for Back Type and I was embarassed at a few of my comments viewed out of context of the posts, as I’d written some cuss words – not of a nature to offend or bash the the author of course, but in keeping with the spirit of what had been posted.

    Sheesh, can I just go back and edit them? Nope!

    This will make me rethink how I word comments in the future, maybe put in asterisks for letters if I am funning with language that in most circles is not appropriate.

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Armani Condom Heart — Inappropriate?

  34. I searched myself on Backstory and told me I had something like just over 500 comments. I *know* I have more than that, so it’s not everything. Some things do fall through the cracks.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Don’t run away from your dreams

  35. it makes a big difference whether or not your have a common name or not. with a common name you are way less googleable and it’s harder to trace things back specifically to you unless you leave other breadcrumbs (like ‘mike smith from forest park, il here’). if you have an uncommon name, you have to be more vigilant. or use a pseudonym (like i do!)

  36. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    oh i know i have left some off colored comments on a blog or two..maybe that i would not leave on my own blog. that’s another part of me i have to get under control…but not so bad that i would have to hang my head in shame.

    i’m not worried about my employer finding anything online – i’m more worried about using their resources to surf the web and read blogs.

    it feels creepy to know that others can read my stuff, but i’m like that in real life, which is another reason i protect my tweets. i’m not saying anything, but i don’t want to share every thing with prying and roaming eyes. i share enough and would like some control over what people see or read about me or my thoughts.

    Natural´s last blog post..Incognito

  37. Hello Barbara,
    I really appreciate your post regarding the way of blogging and its consequences. Certainly, it is concerned to all people, whether ur career oriented or not.
    Blogging means living in a interdependt cyber society, and I believe ‘interdependent’ is higher quality than ‘independent’.
    Lets be careful what we express as what we gave is returned to us with manyfold.

    The Journey Within´s last blog post..Rekindling the Divine Love: Letter from The Master

  38. Ok, I have some strong emotions tied to this, which are probably clouding my judgment, so I realize that I have some growing to do on this subject.

    Here’s what I believe though. People have been spending the majority of the last century subscribing to the theory that they are only valuable members of society if they are working for a business. They trade their time, and in essence, their life to the company to receive a paycheck.

    In the future, I envision people working to create value for themselves. They become valuable people to have around, and they build a reputation for themselves, as well as the company that they work for, so that when it’s time for a new job, they aren’t at the mercy of a job recommendation from their employer. As it is, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how much value you bring to the company if they don’t give you a positive recommendation.

    Now, as we are moving toward that future, employers are fearful of giving away that kind of power. They want to reign over employees, and not share the value that employees bring in. Thus, they try to screen out the employees who aren’t completely selfless and spineless, or who have any type of extrovert personality online. Basically, they are trying to stop progress.

    I feel sorry for the people who don’t see the issue with employers doing this. They truly are victims of the cesspool that the business world has created.

  39. Once you let anything out of your head, it can be used against you.

    No matter how decent a life you lead, if someone wants to destroy your character, they will find some way to do it — because there are some people who just never outgrow the first-grader’s ability to turn any human name into a rhyme for some disgusting bodily function.

    For me, what goes online is a mix of the personal and the professional, leaning toward the latter. Given that I’ve built my writing/editing career on being Pagan, plus the speculative fiction and gender studies stuff, plus assorted other things, the chance of a government official wanting to hire me for anything — other than perhaps a poetry commission — approaches zero. Honestly, anyone who can’t cope with the way I write shouldn’t be working with me in the first place; people have gotten their brains painfully sprained that way.

    Elizabeth Barrette´s last blog post..Discussion: Gaiatribe’s One-Month Anniversary

  40. What a great topic! Everything we do online follows us. And many people do not realize it.

    Fortunately, I very rarely publish anything controversial, but I do limit what I do put online because I know that it is attached to both my online and offline identity.

    I have heard of many people losing jobs because of their online actions. And while it isn’t really FAIR, people do need to realize that their actions can reflect poorly on their employer, regardless of whether or not it is endorsed by them. It’s a shame, but that is how things are.

    Shirley – Velvet Blues´s last blog post..Is Your Search Engine Optimization Expert Legit?

  41. Honestly guys (unisex word), was there ever any doubt that it was relatively easy to track someone’s global comments? It’s the public earthnet!

    THANKS BARBARA! for reminding me about Backtype. I heard about it on TWiT a few weeks ago and really grokked it.

    I AM SO EXCITED about Bytetype, I mean BackType 😉
    It’s going to raise awareness about the reality that was already here: People need to take ownership of their comments in this digital age.

    As Calacanis so aptly put it, Don’t Say it if you wouldn’t say it to that person’s face.

    ~ http://www.backtype.com/bytefulcom

    Byteful Traveller´s last blog post..Find Nemo at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium

  42. Thank you for the link to Back Type, Barbara. I was also interested to read President Obama’s questions.

    Because I blog about children’s literature and literacy, I am very conscious of writing comments that are G-rated. I guess what I’m saying is that I comment as my Book Chook persona, rather than the real me. I hasten to add my comments are honest and authentic, but there are certainly many other facets of my personality that would not be appropriate for my online commenting.

    The Book Chook´s last blog post..Book Review, Can You See A Little Bear?

  43. JMNo Gravatar says:

    It was actually an internet stalker that brought to light (for me) the issue of where you go online and how it can be tracked. I’m not hyper-aware of everything I do online, but I do always have that ‘someone can find this’ in the back of my mind.

    JM´s last blog post..Please Help the Bushfire Victims

  44. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. This is an excellent topic! I am careful what I say and how I say it. The real problem that I see isn’t who I am at all or what or how I say it, but what people do with and how they interpret what I say. No matter what we do, we can’t control other people’s thoughts or reactions. And like Jannie said too, our words can often be taken out of context.

    Davina´s last blog post..Ebook Launch: The Quote Effect Arrives

  45. melanieNo Gravatar says:

    Do you ever worry about what you post online?
    Yes and out of habit I am always careful. I had personal experience where I learned very quickly to filter what I said during my divorce. It might be simple stuff like links to enquiries you have made on forums and an ex becomes privvy to such goings on and next thing the judge is saying “Mrs nunde, you claim to be poor yet on such and such you made enquiries into the the price of a forest green 7series convertable Bmw on Beamers are us forums”. etc etc.(yes, its like having a private eye tracking you as you go window shopping to pass the time) I have used forums to track information on people before and comments on forums,blogs or enquiries can tell you so much about some one. Even eBay purchases/feedback comments for example can tell you other stuff about people that they may have wanted kept secret .

    How do you feel about having your every keystroke is monitored?
    Not surprised, this is the internet after all, nothing is sacred and being able to do it has its advantages ie: google ex and find enough information to counter sue. no one goes to court, everones happy, thanks mr internet:)

    Should our privacy be protected, or is that just the nature of the game?
    It is just how it is and I find it useful. If it is privacy you want, unplug your internet connection.

    melanie´s last blog post..Bees are falling from the sky

  46. Hi Barbara,

    Thank you for this. It’s a good reminder for all of us to be responsible people – online or offline. I’ve learnt through experience that there are no “off-limits” or “off-the-record” stuff, and ANYTHING can come back to haunt us when we least expect it to. The link to Back Type is so cool … am going to play with it once I’m done with this comment. 🙂

    Irene | Light Beckons´s last blog post..Buzz Buzz

  47. Avani-MehtaNo Gravatar says:

    Saying something online is equivalent to sharing something for everyone to hear. Whether I like this or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s how it is. I won’t say something online which I would be uncomfortable sharing in real life.

    Avani-Mehta´s last blog post..How To Create Lasting Relationships

  48. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    I am not surprised. I did not know about backtype but nothing unusual for Big Brother is and has been watching for eons.

    They even know how many of us will need those digital boxes for the big switch by region. Imagine that!

    If you think anything you do whether on the internet or your daily life is not watched, viewed or filmed, think again!

    Thanks Barbara for bringing up such an interesting topic.

    Linda´s last blog post..Happy Valentine’s Day!

  49. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Evelyn – That’s interesting that you know you’re being tracked by a small minority. Knowing we’re being tracked often makes us more cautious with what we’re posting.

    Hi Robin – Congratulations on your 200th BackType comment. You’re right, those on the internet do show an unprecedented level of trust. Makes me wonder if that’s good, or bad.

    Hi Karen – Thank you. You’re right. It’s hard to say our privacy is being invaded if we freely share online. If we put it ‘out there”, we only have ourselves to answer to.

    Hi Frisky Librarian – That’s a great example of how some things we post online (such as on MySpace), we can choose to keep private. Some don’t realize they have that option. I’m glad you brought that up.

    Hi Friar – Oh my gosh; writing letters to the editor got you labeled as the “letter writer”? and stalked? That’s a great example of how our words can come back to bite us, even if they’re our own opinions.

    Hi CG – You’re right. We do have those options. It’s up to us to make the choice.

    Hi George – That’s a great lesson. Many online users feel the same way you did; “who would ever read something little ol’ me would write?” It’s surprising how curious others really are.

    Hi Simon – You’ve raised a great point. What about those pictures others are posting of us? They too, can be incriminating.

    Hi Kim – I agree. We would have to live outside of society to not be tracked – both online and off. Although the library computers may be an alternative to some, who’s to know we’re not being tracked on those, too.

    Hi again Jannie – You’re right. We can’t go back and edit those comments we may not be proud of. And even if the author of the blog changed or deleted them, they’re already on the internet (in other places) for everyone to see.

    Hi again Alex – Your comment makes me wonder how far, or from where BackType gets their information as Mike Goad put in his name and the results showed were far from accurate.

    Hi Web Directory Guy – You’re right. Using a pseudonym is one way to be less “trackable”.

    Hi Natural – I’m guessing it wouldn’t be difficult for your employer to track your online activities at work. Does your company address that issue in their employee manual?

    Hi Journey Within – Thank you. You’re right. We get what we give. Being careful what we post is great advice.

    Hi Trey – Yes, some employers will use whatever means they have to terminate employees who don’t comply with the “rules”. Fortunately the employees who have the extrovert online personalities often have the self confidence to venture out on their own and become very successful.

    Hi Elizabeth – How true; “if someone wants to destroy your character, they will find some way to do it.” It’s unfortunate, but true.

    Hi Shirley – You’ve raised a good point. What we do online can be a reflection on our employer. It goes back to that old saying, “you can tell a person by the friends they keep”.

    Hi Byteful Traveller – You’re welcome. Yes, we shouldn’t be surprised at anything that can be found out about us online. If we put it out there, someone will find it.

    Hi Book Chook – You’re welcome. It sounds like you’ve given this issue a lot of thought. If you’re representing children’s literature and literacy, you certainly wouldn’t want edgy comments to be associated with your site.

    Hi JM – How ironic it was an online stalker that taught you this lesson. Keeping it in the back of our mind helps us to self censor before we hit “publish”.

    Hi Davina – Thank you. That’s true. Jannie reminded us how our words can be taken out of context. When that happens, our words can easily be misunderstood.

    Hi Melanie – Wow! I knew our online activity could be tracked but never thought how it can be used in a divorce. Thank you for sharing the example. How ironic the internet then worked in your defense as well. What goes around, comes around.

    Hi Irene – You’re welcome. That’s right. There is no “off limits” or “off the record” stuff online. Knowing that certainly helps us to blog accordingly.

    Hi Avani – That’s a great reminder. “Don’t say anything online that we feel uncomfortable sharing in real life.”

    Hi Linda – You’re welcome. Yes, imagine that. Big Brother also knows more about our OFFLINE life than we care to believe. It’s sad, but true.

  50. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I think the key is living your values.

    When you live your values, you don’t have to worry so much about how you manage yourself. Also, you find better fits rather than worrying about where you fit in.

    I think another key is being able to recover versus worrying about messing up. It’s great to be able to make mistakes. It’s life.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Avoid Mental Burnout

  51. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi J.D. Well put – “live our values”. It’s ironic how when we do, there’s little for us to worry about.

  52. CarolineNo Gravatar says:

    Ok…this scares me a little… Fortunately, I do think about what I “put out there.” Ever since my corporate days, knowing that every email could be read, I “filter.” Basically, I don’t swear, plagiarize, or leave rude comments. Everything comes back to haunt you…

    Caroline´s last blog post..The strength of spirit & the power of love (Mia’s story)

  53. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Caroline – The corporate world is a great place to learn this lesson, isn’t it? It started to knowing we need to filter emails, and has moved into the world of blogging as well as social networks. You’re right. Everything can come back to haunt us.