UNTIL THE END of the 20th century, most young people could take one thing for granted: their embarrassing behavior would eventually be forgotten. It might be a bad haircut, or it might be getting drunk and throwing up at a party, but in an analog era, even if the faux pas were documented in a photograph, the likelihood of its being reproduced and widely circulated for years was minimal. The same held true for stupid or offensive remarks. Once you went off to college, there was no reason to assume that embarrassing moments from your high school years would ever resurface.
Not anymore. Today, people enter adulthood with much of their childhood and adolescence still up for scrutiny. But as past identities and mistakes become stickier, it’s not just individuals who might suffer. Something much larger—the potential for social change and transformation—may also be at risk. …
“Why an Internet that Never Forgets Is Especially Bad for Young People” (Kate Eichhorn, MIT Technology Review, December 27, 2019)
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