Everyone knows that the web keeps everything forever. So that indiscreet photo on Facebook or that really shocking blog stay attached to you forever. The college admissions officer and the personnel department search the web just for you.
But still, do we truly understand the implications as a society? Read this insightful article in the July 25 New York Times magazine, “The Web Means the End of Forgetting.” This is scary and, I think, sad.
“We’ve known for years that the Web allows for unprecedented voyeurism, exhibitionism and inadvertent indiscretion, but we are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent – and public – digital files.
The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts.”
Consider the implications to never forgetting. Cyberscholar Viktor Mayer-Schönberger says that in a society that records everything, each of us will be forever tethered to “all our past actions, making it impossible, in practice, to escape them.” And that “without some form of forgetting, forgiving becomes a difficult undertaking.”
Just think about that: without some way to forget, how can we forgive?