Here’s a funny thing about the internet: nothing ever goes away.

 

It strikes me as I sit here googling the closest thing I have to a love interest. The haul so far is some rather adorable teenage poetry which isn’t even bad, a blog from six years ago and a livejournal I refuse to read out of an odd respect for privacy. At least until my curiosity takes over.

 

Now, that might seem horribly stalkerish, but I *have* known the guy for a year and it only now occurs to me to google him. If I’d bothered to do the same with my ex, I’d have found one legal conviction and a blog entry saying what a jerk he is. Things might have gone differently (oh, who am I kidding). But let’s not dwell on that.

 

The thing is: rantings from six years ago are still there, indexed and all. And they don’t go away.

 

That is scary. Imagine being a teen these days. Imagine every stupid thing you’ve ever done or written is online, in text and pictures, and it stays there, indexed and searchable for future generations and parents alike.

 

Yesterday I warned a rather awesome 14-year old about Facebook. How worried should she be about the slightly tipsy pictures tagged with her name on Facebook? The answer is easy: at the moment, not at all. Just so long as her mom doesn’t see them. I told her to just make sure they were gone by the time she was applying for a job. My advice may be rather misguided. Exactly how hard is it going to be to get rid of those pictures in six years time?

 

Of course, most future employers or love interests aren’t going think any less of you from a couple of slightly tipsy pictures. But what will they think if they find one of those pics where you’re passed out, half naked, with drawings in sharpie all over your face?

 

There will come a time when teens will actually have to worry about that and *gasp* be responsible and stuff. Or at least make sure to destroy the evidence. And that’s terrible. Because it goes against the grain of all that is teen.

 

I am, blessedly, from a pre-cameraphone, pre-internet generation. That means I’m officially old, but it also means there’s no evidence that can be used against me. There are no pictures of a drunk teenage Lethe, because no one thought of taking a camera. Equally, none of my terrible, terrible teenage poetry and stories can be consulted by strangers, since they’re all locked up in a rather dusty journal in my attic. My exploits as a kid are entirely in my and my friends’ heads, as memories.

 

This also means it’s probably good I didn’t drink *too* much, since I actually still remember most of my teen years. If I didn’t, they’d be gone. That time I pretended to fall asleep on the shoulder of my then-crush to the tones of ‘Riders on the Storm’ (no, I’m not *that* old, we were just into retro music). I remember that, and I don’t think anyone else does. Or that time I got so stoned I started seeing bats everywhere. Pretty sure I’m the only one that knows about that, since I have no clue what state my friend was in at that moment.

 

It makes me wonder what it would be like if there *were* pictures of most of the main parties and events I went to. Would I look at them with nostalgia or would I see the stark details that my mind has since blurred, and try to destroy the evidence?

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