I talked to my eldest child today. Even though I’m a geezer, sometimes I think she’s the parent, and I’m the child. I guess that’s because she’s a girl and, at least in my life, girls always seem to become the boss, even when they aren’t officially the boss. No offense intended.
A big chunk of the conversation centered on the internet and privacy. My point was that the internet is a fact of life and privacy is an illusion. She, being a girl, discounted all of my views. Her opinion on the internet is don’t, just don’t ever put stuff on it. My opinion is use it, abuse it, and never refuse it. When in doubt, post it. Anything you think is personal should be posted multiple times on Facebook and Twitter.
Don’t believe me? Befriend on Facebook a random young woman anywhere. They all put their most personal relationship information and even personal bodily functions on their timeline over, and over, and over again. They even put pictures of their feet on the computer, which I try to avoid seeing at all costs. Once you see someone’s feet you can’t unsee them. Now that I think about it, posting pictures of feet is stepping over the line. Get it, feet stepping over the line? I kill me.
If we don’t do stuff online, do we exist? Let’s say I have dementia, because I probably do. In the modern world, I just have to have someone Google my name and boom, it’s all there. I don’t have to remember anything; the internet did it for me. Where do I live? Redirecting: I live in Norris City, Illinois or Machu Picchu, Peru. Okay, it’s not a perfect system. There’ll always be a little bit of erroneous data in any system.
I searched my name on Google. It seems I’m an actor on “Glee” and “Riverdale.” In my photo, I totally rock the no-shirt look. If I’ve got dementia, and see that on the computer, I can accept that. In the short amount of time I can remember what I’ve seen, it won’t hurt me to think I’m a celebrity. What’s the worst that can happen? So I sign a few autographs and make a memory-care nurse swoon. No harm done.
Internet searches are fickle things. The newest, most common information comes up first. Celebrities always screw up and become poor, in prison or on a reality TV show for hasbeens. A search for my identity can go badly. It seems that in my golden years, my self esteem may depend on the whims of an impersonal algorithm. I’m just glad my name isn’t Charlie Sheen or Charlie Tuna.
My daughter has zero footprints on line. When she gets Alzheimer’s, she won’t exist. I can see her shuffling around the nursing home one day, unsure of who she is and where she is. Her roomie will put her name in the web browser and nothing will happen. The best she’ll be able to hope for is a random identity that may or may not fit her.
I know what could work. If a person is far gone and has no clue who she is, she could become anybody. Maybe I should make up a list of names for my kid to search if needed. One time she could be Katherine Hepburn, then Nancy Reagan, and maybe Candace Flynn. It doesn’t matter that one of those is a cartoon character, it’ll only be temporary. She’ll forget again and can be somebody new.
Now that we’ve discussed it, perhaps my daughter has it right. While I’ll probably be stuck with a variation of my name for eternity, she won’t be anybody, so she can become anyone at all. We all have our “wall” of information we’ve put online in our lives. She’ll be different, her wall will be blank. In her golden years, anything she puts on it will be in disappearing ink. Maybe that’s a desirable plan after all.
We’ll all forget who we are, if we live long enough. Our on-line activity may become our memories. Maybe we can each become someone new for a while. With a blank mind and Google, anything is possible, except for pictures of feet. Those will never be acceptable in any reality.