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The Internet is forever... - Mark's Journal
The Internet is forever...
Over the weekend, I got an e-mail sent to Jane at Lightlink and to me, from a med student who wishes Googling him didn't bring up this news story about his cataclysmic misjudgement. I'm not sure why he contacted Jane and me, since Lightlink and 14850.com aren't responsible for WVBR's news pages, but I replied to him and passed his note along.

Frankly, I have mixed feelings about this. I feel sorry for the guy, and can sympathize with his desire to focus on his future and not his past. But some fuck-ups should haunt you for the rest of your life.

If I were a prospective employer, I'd want to know this guy could probably never get a security clearance, and if I were a prospective date, I'd certainly want to know how he deals with exes. :-\
14 comments or Leave a comment
cannedpopcorn From: cannedpopcorn Date: August 23rd, 2010 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)
wow. i was expecting a drunken facebook picture or a car accident or something. that is a serious issue, and it wasn't even that long ago. in this case, googling is probably best for anyone that ever meets him.
helianthas From: helianthas Date: August 23rd, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

The Internet is forever...

Was he convicted or cleared of the charges?
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: August 23rd, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: The Internet is forever...

He pled guilty last spring, so was effectively convicted without a trial. Sentencing was scheduled for last August, but I don't see anything reporting on it.
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: August 26th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoops. Replied to the wrong thing. Meant to reply to original post, not a comment.

Edited at 2010-08-26 05:49 am (UTC)
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: August 23rd, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you have an uncommon name, you have to be very careful with your Internet presence (in my case, the damage has already been done). You can't just say, "No, it's the other one..."

On a related note, if Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic is ever doing a book signing or talk at 92nd St Y, and your schedule permits it, I'll take you (and will pay) because I would get a kick out of you two meeting!
sskipstress From: sskipstress Date: August 23rd, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is it just the name similarity or is there something specific about the meeting that you think would be interesting? Yeah, I ask because I know both of them.
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: August 23rd, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just the name similarity :)

And, although, it will never happen, I'd like to see a skit on Saturday Night Live in which mhaithaca and Marc Ambinder are guests of Terry Rialto (Molly Shannon) and Margaret Jo McCullen (Ana Gasteyer) on NPR's "The Delicious Dish."


mrliburyin From: mrliburyin Date: August 23rd, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you see the NYT Mag's piece on the end of forgetting? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/magazine/25privacy-t2.html?pagewanted=all

On one hand, the guy definitely went overboard, and that should raise a red flag for any potential future employers etc. However, people do change over time, and it does make me wonder a bit whether people are going to be given the opportunity to change and prove themselves.
helianthas From: helianthas Date: August 23rd, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another thing in this case is he plead guilty and was not found guilty by trial - I'm not sure if he had the opportunity to plead "no contest"-- essentially, "I didn't do it but going through the justice system will probably bankrupt me and if I'm found guilty I'm deported or in jail for way longer than if I take a plea, so, yeah, no contest and/or guilty." like, I wonder if there's more to the story that the news media can't know... Either way he probably did something stupid, but perhaps not as extreme as it may seem? Who knows....

mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: August 23rd, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

His e-mail said he's "extremely remorseful of the mistakes that I have made in the past" and "trying to improve my life and get back on track," with no suggestion that the charges against him were unfounded or even overblown. His willingness to own up to what he (apparently) did is one of the reasons I have even a little sympathy for the guy.
verymelm From: verymelm Date: August 23rd, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think we're sophisticated enough as a society in our consumption of what we find on the 'net for this to be anything but a briar patch. *Everyone's* screwed up and you shouldn't have to immediately expect to have to account for every mistake you've made within the first casual meeting or two with someone just because they Googled you; there's somewhat of a skip in the natural progression of getting to know someone that gets introduced by the readily available information about people on the 'net. On the employer side, if there's something legitimate on his record, his employer will find that out in the course of the interview or background checking process, and if they're truly interested in hiring him, they'll give him the opportunity to explain both what he did and what he's learned from the situation.

My concern with the "never forgetting" aspect of the 'net is that when combined with the "don't have to ask" part, it makes it too easy for people to make judgments without appropriate context - and some of those judgments might be correct, but others, maybe most, pr'bly aren't. It's part of a larger discussion about whether the 'net is making us more socially connected or disconnected - if I don't have to interact with you to find out select and disjointed pieces of your past, and if I weave what I find into a back story that is only anchored in reality by those select and disjointed pieces and then further decide you're not someone I want to know.. *shrug*
adelais From: adelais Date: August 24th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
On the bright side, as youthful indiscretions start to accumulate on everybody's internet record, we're going to run short of people with no record at all. That said, sounds like this dude deserves it.
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: August 26th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
For many years, I've come to think of it as (no longer "new") normal that people can and will Google you. Frankly, it saves a lot of time and money to get some kind of idea of someone you're interested in.

For example, let's say I'm interested in someone of another ethnicity/race than mine. By default, I might assume that most of whom they've gone out with are the same ethnicity/race/faith as they are, but that's not always true. I've saved myself a lot of trouble and embarrassment by looking, for example, at their photo albums on their Facebook or Flickr. If they've never dated out of their own "type" -- especially anyone who looks like me -- then it's pointless of me to even try.

Edited at 2010-08-26 05:51 am (UTC)
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: August 26th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) (Link)

It's never pointless. For all you know, that person has just come to the realization that they've gotten nowhere dating the same "type" over and over, and need to try something different.
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