Monday, March 18, 2013

A Rose by any other web search....

Common Garden Variety Rose
In old detective stories the gum shoe would eventually head down to the morgue file of the local paper to see if a suspect had been involved in any salacious headlines.  It was an extensive ordeal that involved micro film, cumbersome projection units in a small room and hours looking though unrelated headlines to find what he was looking for.  Inevitably, in the Hollywood story, the detective would see a headline or story that would lead him to solve the case.  But that is old news.
Times have changed.  Just like there are no more candlestick phones or manual typewriters the morgue files of most newspapers are now available online.  The detective with a smart phone today doesn't even have to leave his bedroom to search the files for some "person of interest".  
There is currently an advertisement on my Google page that touts a site which will search the arrest record of anyone.  It is accompanied by the picture of an unsavory character in jail house orange.  Anything that has ever been written, blogged, tweeted, photographed, statused, shared or emailed is out there waiting to be sifted through a data base and served up to anyone on line. The problem is that there is no expiration date to this information.  True, relevant or just plain wrong, it doesn't matter... once it is there it never leaves. 
I have a friend who was arrested five years ago on a bogus charge. It made the local television news as well as print media.  It was a ridiculous emotionally charged case with several counts that added up to a felony.  Within weeks most of the counts were dropped, the charge was changed to a misdemeanor, and eventually the whole thing was negotiated down to nothing.  However, if you google his name even today you will see the felony charge and the booking photo accusing him of countless infractions none of which were validated. If that is as far as your search went you would not know the real story nor the true person behind the ubiquitous headline.
This modern day problem has given rise to unique solutions.  Some scholars say that in the future it may become a rite of passage for people to change their name when they reach majority. It would be a way to clear your actual name from being associated with transgressions which have made their way onto the net.  You know, That picture you posted on your FaceBook page when you were 16?  The one of you in a Charles Manson tee shirt taking a hit from a bong? That probably would not be the one you would want a future employer to see when you are 21. However, an internet search will probably be the first thing that happens after your application.  By changing your name and stepping away from your juvenile "on line reputation", you could keep the mistakes of your past from destroying your chances for the future.  It may be an idea who's time has come unless we can mature enough as humans to show a little FaceBook discretion.
I always liked the name Jay and I am glad that there was no public place to deposit the photos of my misspent youth when they were taken back then. To see them today requires a search warrant not a search app on an iPhone.  However, if I had been born into another generation with such access, what would I change my name to?  Francis.... because to find me, a prospective employer would have to wade through billions of hits for the Pope.  I wouldn't go by Francis... that will always be a girls name to me,  I would be Frank.  On second thought, I like Jay better.... and why run when no one is chasing you.
As you were,

1 comment:

P. Grecian said...

So you have a clean record, then? Hmmm. I just may change my name to Jay Johnson.