Like many teenagers (and just people in general, nowadays) I have a Facebook account.  It allows me to stay in touch with friends interstate and overseas, as well as those I have met through musical theatre or other activities and don’t otherwise have any interaction with.  It also gives me the facilities to post and view my own pictures and those of others, and to find out what people I haven’t seen in a while are getting up to.

And this, as I see it, is a perfect use of such social media sites.  Apparently, however, I am in the minority.

My Mum teaches IT (to put her role very simply) at a Primary School.  As a result of this, she is rather more technology-savvy than your average Mum, and one of the concepts she has drilled into me is the idea of leaving a ‘positive digital footprint’.  I don’t claim to have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the www, but I do understand that anything and everything you post or do on the internet is stored, in some form, and can be traced back to you. 

Which is why I am genuinely concerned about some of my Facebook ‘friends’.  Most are people my age (give or take a few years), and many are already leaving digital trails equivalent to muddy bootprints throughout an entire white-carpeted house.

I check Facebook daily, but do not post too many statuses, primarily because I am either not clever enough to think of something witty to say, or I simply have the maturity to see that “….is eating a sandwich, LOL” is not particularly interesting.

Likewise, I try to be clever when it comes to photos.  I don’t have an issue with being tagged in pictures from outings or parties, but I am now constantly aware at such events that any picture that is taken is likely to end up on Facebook, so I am cautious. 

Many of my ‘friends’, however, don’t seem to have a grasp on this concept.  My Facebook news feed is always filled with statuses brimming with profanities, messages to and from people that disclose embarrasing or private details or are just simply abusive, and photos from parties of people stumbling over each other and posing provocatively for the camera, clutching an alcoholic drink.  

(Time for new friends, maybe?)

But no one bats an eyelid.  I can (almost – at a stretch) understand them not having an issue with it now, but I can’t believe that they will appreciate such a legacy in the future.  I’m sure everyone’s heard the stories of employers ‘Googling’ potential employees to see what they get up to.  If someone was wanting to employ a new intern or something of the sort and they had two applicants with identical perfect qualifications, but one has a Facebook page like those of some of my ‘friends’ and the other doesn’t, who do you think they’re likely to pick?

I might be alone in this, or maybe not.  Maybe I just have a particularly bad bunch of Facebook friends.  But I am someone who is very conscious of the trail I leave online – this blog is in some ways an attempt to not only keep my footprint neutral, but even leave a positive impression.  And I have decided not to use my real name, and not to associate Motzie at all with my Facebook account.

And personally, I would much rather be Motzie, occasional blogger with aspirations of entering the Media and Communications field, than a public party animal and infamous Facebook personality.


If you’re interested, there is a link to Mum’s blog in the side panel —>
“Celia’s Reflections”


4 thoughts on “Footprints

  1. Hi Motzie–I’m so impressed with your blog! Do you mind if I feature it on mine as a great example of teens managing their online presence? I’d also like to use it as an example with my students next year. Your mom has taught you well how to think about these things!

    In fact, would you like to be a guest blogger on my site (My first!)…maybe something along the lines of general teen attitudes towardsntheir footprint and how teachers can help themnthink more intelligently about these things…from a teen’s point of view. Maybe some insights into where we’re failing to address the issue. Grin–I realize that’s a tall order. Your thoughts?


  2. Great topic and one that I am interested in. Be careful when thinking about your digital footprint as you control what you say about yourself and others but you don’t control what others say about you – your digital footprint is also about data that describes how you interact with digital systems and how you and your social group behave. Alas, digital footprints are not always in your control

  3. You rise some really good points. My voice teacher actually told me that one of his students (his main job is teaching MT at the local University, but he teaches non-University students on the weekends) posted a comment that was something like “___ and alcohol is really good,” and since she was only 19, he asked her about it, and she was like, “How do you know that?” *headdesk* I definitely see a lot of profanity on my friends’ walls too, and it makes me uncomfortable, because sometimes I’d like to show, say, my younger cousins (who are too young to get a Facebook, but it’s easy to show them pics of my friends) my Facebook, and I’m always paranoid because of all that profanity stuff other people post. I wish people could be more conscious of stuff they say online!

  4. Thanks for the feedback Mara!
    I know exactly what you mean, it can be frustrating that a few people give all other teenagers a bad name. And you should be able to comfortably show your cousins your Facebook without having to worry about what they might see from your friends.
    Thanks for the comment, it’s nice to know I’m not alone!

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