Two major events have taken place in my life recently: one person who I love and who has played a major part in my past has passed away, and another person who I already love and who will hopefully play a major part in my future has been born.
Whilst trying to take everything in, and whilst I see the term digital footprint thrown around social networks all the time, I just wanted to share a couple of observations I’ve made, the position I believe we’re now in, and throw a couple of quick questions out there.
My loved one who passed away built a legacy offline. This was based on integrity, trust, humility, strong values and helping others. Everyone that knew her knows her legacy will live on in many hearts and minds, and this will in no way be affected by companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter indexing and recording her life. She had probably never even heard of them! Will her legacy be seen online? Will she have left a digital footprint? Almost certainly not.
My loved one who has not yet taken her first step, or spoken her first word, is already having her digital footprint created for her. She also has no idea who Google, Facebook or Twitter are, but others are already sharing much of her early life across the internet. By the time she is able to use a computer, she will be able to see hundreds of related photos, videos and conversations. The indexing and recording of her life has already begun, out of no choice of her own.
Most of you who are reading this will be in a place between the two. You will definitely have the opportunity to leave a positive digital footprint, an opportunity others did not have, and you hold a large degree of control over this. You may also be in control over the digital footprints of others, and this involves responsibility.
I know this is a strange train of thought, and I’m certainly not diving into the right and wrong decisions that can be made, but I do honestly think it is worth reminding ourselves about these opportunities and responsibilities. We are in a newish spot. We can do things others were not able to do. We can control things others are not able to control.
The position we’re in isn’t based purely on age – it is also based on the understanding and control of modern technology, and it’s future implications. The digital footprint we leave should (hopefully) reflect how we act as people rather than how well we understand the tools, although this understanding is still necessary. And off course, the digital footprint we control for others should be fair, even at it’s early stages.
A legacy left in hearts and minds will always be more valuable and precious than a digital footprint, but now we are living in a world where it needs to at least be thought about.
What type of digital footprint are you leaving?
Do you have a responsibility towards the digital footprints of others?
Have you talked about this situation before?
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