On our epic journey home from Berkeley Bagel this morning, Helen and I started talking about how you have to be careful about what you post online because potential employers Google you before they ever meet you.
The archetypal example: A picture of yourself passed out drunk at the age of 20 winds up on the Internet, and you're denied a good job even though you are eminently qualified for it.
On the one hand, I'm just as self-interested as anyone else. For example...I've refused to join certain Facebook groups because people I work with are on FB, and I don't want to be seen as frivolous whenever they get a feed about a silly cause I've joined.
On the other hand, I think, "Oh please! That person who denied you the job because of your drunken photo was probably even more drunk when they were 20 years old."
We've entered truly uncharted waters in recent years, in which personal and professional lives blend online in an unprecedented way. Before the Web, an employer would never ask about your college partying habits; such questions were immaterial to the available position.
They still are.
The difference now, of course, is that the evidence of your "debauchery" is now online. So I'm dismayed at how all good strivers are feverishly wiping away evidence of their completely normal behavior from the Web. Not saying that I would do anything different, just that we should all step back and examine the full cost of ambition. One of those costs: We're creating Potemkin versions of ourselves even though the real versions are perfectly fine.