Despite what common wisdom says, people do change. You have the girl who spent all of her college years partying but now sees the responsibility in front of her. You have the professor who spent time doing research on LSD, but even though he did personal experiments, now won’t even smoke weed. There are countless stories of people who are trying to leave their past behind them and become better people. The problem? The Internet and Permanent Records accessible to everyone.
Dr. Jennifer Golbeck writes in All Eyes On You that the knowledge of third-party observers can change not only the way we act but the way we think about ourselves. (Golbeck) And that can be dangerous. But how can we help but do so in an age where making overtime pay due to an understaffed nursing staff leads to hate mail and harassment? Golbeck suggests that the inablity to leave our pasts behind us can lead to a crushing inability to move forward. “At its worst, these weights can inhibit one’s desire to change. If we can never erase the record of one mistake we made long ago, if we’re convinced it will only continue to hinder our progress, what motivation do we have to become anyone different from the person who made that mistake? For that matter, why bother moving beyond conflicts with others if the sources of those disputes remain current online? With easily accessible digital reminders, bygones cannot be bygones.” (Golbeck) I’m sorry Rafiki, but the past is NOT the past, and now, it matters.
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