“Real” World Consequences for Online Behavior

Long time no see, everyone!

I figured it was about time I start updating this, and I thought the perfect way to do that was by discussing something that has been brought up in class on more than one occasion this semester. Every now and then, we discuss the connection between identity online and identity in the physical world. While many people believe that the two are separate, this class has emphasized on the fact that they often intertwine. Something I couldn’t help but think about while discussing this was how the things we choose to broadcast online often have real life consequences.

When people warn others about the content they post online, they typically talk about how nothing is ever completely deleted from the internet. This is true, because things like the Wayback Machine and screenshots exist as way of archiving anything and everything. Deleting that embarrassing tweet you made four years ago doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wiped from existence. It might be off of your profile, but the stain could still be there.

I think this is especially important to consider when looking for/maintaining a job. Airing your dirty laundry online can be dangerous, because there’s always a slight chance that potential employers are looking you up to see what you’re all about. They want someone that they see fit to represent their company, and when you’re caught up in internet dramatics or openly expressing prejudices you have, chances are you are putting yourself at risk of scaring off employers or even losing a job you might already have.

Now, this topic has a lot of layers that can be discussed. We could have a discussion about whether or not doxxing someone is immoral if they’re actively bigoted or a discussion about whether or not employers should fire employees for their out of work behavior, but what I mainly want to know is what about the internet makes people feel so comfortable broadcasting their feelings for everyone to see? What has led people to believe that their actions online don’t have consequences in the physical world?

I’m curious to hear what some of you might think!