By Alessandra De Freitas Teixeira
Like Vegas, what happens on the internet stays on the internet. Unlike Vegas, this may very well affect future job opportunities. We’ve all googled ourselves, momentarily dreading what may come up despite knowing we have nothing to hide. Yet, what about those who do?
Past generations had no such worries. While technological advancements may enhance Western civilization, they also paradoxically push us closer to a level of barbarity. The internet has immortalized us through the digital footprint we produce. Though you may have forgotten about old comments, favorites, or retweets, like the North, the internet remembers.
Is the answer to change our privacy settings? Hardly. A peak into your social media accounts gives employers a better understanding of who you are as a person. As impressive as your GPA and CV may be, this might simply not be enough. Your digital footprint offers prospective employers the ability to get to know you better, on a more personal level.
Why does the internet matter? As Sciences Po students, we understand the manner in which our ontological bias may taint the lenses through which we perceive the world. As students of politics, we also acknowledge how much the public enjoys a good political scandal. The problem arises when your ontological bias encourages you to foster a racist or sexist ideology through online means.
You may very well be the future leader of the free world, but with that comes scrutiny. The internet makes it a lot easier for the free press and public to carry out this action. An opinion you divulged on Twitter or Facebook at the age of fifteen will harm your career, as happened to Bethany Barker who quit her post as Jeremy Corbyn’s warm-up woman following racist tweets.
It is questionable whether individuals should be judged on their adolescent actions, and in my opinion they should be tried on a case-by-case basis. One’s political bias is imperative to the public sphere, and therefore exhibiting shared levels of racist of sexist ideology regardless of age may not be excused. Indeed as teenagers we make mistakes, but it is important to distinguish between childish naivety and propagating words of hatred.
In terms of different domains of work, such as baking or biology, where ideology holds little to no impact on the level of work produced, should potential employees be judged by their digital footprint, or Google search results? It depends on the manner in which you see the world. While openly shaming homosexuality may not directly affect the cake produced or the DNA cells analyzed, it slows down societal progression. As a liberal democracy, it is our job to push for greater tolerance towards minority groups, and to call out bigots, regardless of what professional domain they work in. As demonstrated by the events in Charlottesville earlier this year, the internet can help to identify racists, which resulted in Cole White losing his job at a hot dog restaurant. Should it matter that White worked in the fast-food sector rather than in politics? No. A grown man advocating racist remarks, regardless of where he stands in society, must not be given a free pass.
The internet is forever. The manner in which you act now will directly impact your work prospects in twenty years time. While first instinct may be self-censorship or strong privacy settings, there is no need for this. If you’re a decent human being, the internet should not affect your future job prospects.
Alissandra De Freitas Teixeira is an exchange student from the University of Nottingham. Loves Macron and Macaroons almost as much as being called a feminazi. Feminista says what? runs one Thursday every month. .