We live in a sea of stimulus, and human brains have developed to filter and sort the visual, audio, touch, smell and taste signals that we receive. If this did not happen our long-term memories would soon overflow. We filter the important stuff and ignore the ephemeral (mostly).
Our long-term memories shape our identity and drive the way in which we interact.
Now, imagine a brain that records everything that you ever experienced or said, and made it available for review or re-use. You would replace your selective, intuitive and spontaneous identity with a search based, analytical and undoubtedly more complete version of yourself. But would this be better?
In the real world the foundations of perceived identity are physical interactions and the important first impressions these make on others.
In the virtual world our identity is a mix of social networking links, published profiles, comments on websites and what others are saying about us.
And because we can research people before we meet them, the virtual identity is rapidly becoming the first impression.
I have read that the internet never forgets. Everything is apparently being saved for re-use.
Our “mistakes” in the real world are quickly forgotten and therefore forgiven, but if they are now permanently stored, should we take more care about what we post on the internet? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.
I do know that many people are not yet aware that their on-line activity is creating a permanent virtual identity. This lack of awareness means that many will come to regret the permanency and quality of their accidental on-line reputation.
Todays picture is an original pencil drawing by, and reproduced here with permission from JD Hillberry. www.JDHillberry.com