In my “web and society” series, I can’t prevent from saying a few words about the tab keeping theory which is put forward by many people as we leave many traces on the web.
Assumption :we leave traces on the web, anyone can use it and not only to help us. We leave traces, the web stores them and it’s dangerous.
I repeat what I’ve already wrote many teams : the web is the world, there are the same people that are not better or worst than in real life and thinking the same social rules may apply is everything but stupid.
Imagine you’re the hero of the following story…
Your name is John Smith (I apologize to all the John Smiths in the world…it’s only an example).
Imagine you leave home to go for a walk downtown. You start to insult all the people you pass in the street. And everytime you add “by the way…my name is John Smith”.
Then you join your friends to have a coffee. You come to disagree with them, raise your voice and shout abuse at them. Of course everybody in the cafÃ© know who you are. A few hours later the same thing happens with work colleagues.
On your way own you steal a CD in a shop (and leave you business card of course). A few blocks later you take you camera and shoot under a young girl’s skirt, without forgetting to give your name to her parents who were with here. You print the photos and stick them up on your street’s wall, with you signature of course.
Now, imagine you’re back home. You find on your answering machine a message from your friends saying they don’t wan’t to see you anymore, of you boss saying you’re fired, of a headhunter who was close to offer you the job of your life saying that things are harder now.. Oddly your neighbours seem to be looking at you strangely. One day the police rings at your door and tells you you’re being sued for theft and child abuse. More, you wife leaves you because she found the pictures of the weekend you spent with your mistress while she was thinking you were on a business seminar.
What would all of that make you think ?
That society is keeping tabs on you ? That you’re the stupidiest guy ever ?
Of course this will not happen because you’re a responsibke person. You respect laws, norms, social codes. You know you may have to take on everything ou do or say, even if it’s not reprehensible. You know that you can’t say everything about or to anyone. Thate one day or the other you’ll take to take on your social mistakes.
It’s the same on the web. Internet has a memory, like your friends, your enemies and all the people you pass everyday, whether you know them or not.
I’m not saying there are not abuses that have to be fought. But in most of time, the internaut’s biggest enemy is himself,Â not the tool he uses.