The benefit of technology is that it allows people to have a voice and to share that voice with a wider audience than was ever available before. The downside to technology is that people seem to forget that what you put out in to the internet never really goes away. So if you put something out there, you have to be willing to own it.
I'll get to the specific event I'm speaking about in just a moment here, but when called my Mom on advice on how to proceed on what I had found, she talked about how one of her friend's daughters had broken up with a boy and the boy got so mad he started a website about what a drunk and a slut this girl is. Now, whenever you Google the girl, that stuff comes up about her. How horrible, right? Even if these things were true, does the girl deserve to have that out there for future employers to see?
I, myself, Googled someone the other day who had been really, really mean to me for no reason just to see what was out there about him. With only his first and last name, I found out a ton about him and on the very first search result linked to his name found his cell number and his personal email address. If I was a vindictive person, there's lots of bad stuff I could do with that information alone.
Technology is changing so rapidly and is such a useful tool, but sometimes we get complacent about what we put out there about others and the information that we share to the world about ourselves.
So on to why I'm posting about this today: MOTH Dude and I are heading back to California in a month and a half to visit family and friends and to start looking at wedding venues and meet with potential vendors. I've made a wedding inspiration board and have a good idea based on our style and our budget on what we are after. In conjunction with the wedding planning process, part of my daily internet routine now includes checking out a couple wedding blogs to see if any of the weddings featured are using the colors or details we like in a way we haven't thought of. I also read a forum site where brides ask each other things like where to find the perfect blue shoes or what a reasonable cost in NY is for a wedding cake or what should they do to make their DIY centerpieces nicer. Part of the forum is dedicated to family topics and bridesmaids and honeymoons, as well. What I generally do is go on and look at the first 5 pages of forum topics. These are all the posts from any of the sections (honeymoons, shoes, family, etc) that have been commented on most recently.
This morning, while MOTH was at church and I was waiting on the first load of laundry, I scanned through the first 5 pages as per usual and opened in a new tab any topics that were relevant to me and a few about people venting about problems they are having in planning their weddings. One of the topics I opened was "MOH from Hell". (For those not in the throes of wedding planning, MOH = Maid of Honor.)
I'm reading through the post and the author was frustrated with her Maid of Honor because she thought she was being too controlling, too negative, and wanted to go on a $500 cruise for a bachelorette weekend (which may sound extravagant to some, but I've had a few friends in Orange County do this now, so while it does seem like an expensive party, it's not so far fetched for our area/friend group) but then was worried about how much being a bridesmaid was going to cost her. The friend asked the bride to provide her with a spreadsheet on what she should be expecting to pay to participate in the wedding, which is a contrast to being able to drop $500 for a weekend cruise, but not an unreasonable request. The bride first writes that she is unsure 12 months out from the wedding how much everything will cost, (which I can relate to because I have no idea how much I'll be asking my girls to spend, but want to keep it low for them) but then the bride writes out how much the bridesmaid dress she likes costs, how much for the shoes she wants them to get are, and how much for their hair/makeup and comes up with a figure of $256.
She then rips in to her Maid of Honor saying she thought she'd be the perfect person to pick as she works in the industry. She then starts to talk about the friend's family's financial background and talks about how it shouldn't worry the Maid of Honor as they are well off. Then things get really nasty and the bride starts to talk about really personal things that have happened to the girl, once again, on a public forum where anyone can read it.
Well, as I'm reading the post, I think to myself, "Gee, that sounds like the life of one of my friends as far as school and work goes and she does come from a comfortable family, but I have never heard a negative word from her about anything and when I showed her my wedding idea board she had nothing but nice things to say and made some cool suggestions, too." So I went on Facebook and was going to link to the forum post on my friend's wall for a laugh, but then I thought, "Nah, I'll private message her."
So I'm writing this note: Hey Hottie, How's life? You're not a Maid of Honor for anyone are you? There is a post on this website (link to website) about some girl, but I don't think anyone could ever write something like that about you. Anyway, there is someone else in your city, living your life, and they also went to your same college...Better find out who your competition is! ;)
But before I hit send, I get a funny feeling and think I should check out the bride's profile to see if there was any link between her and my friend...like same age or high school or neighborhood. I click on her Bio page and there is a description and picture of each of her bridesmaids and lo and behold, my friend is at the top under Maid of Honor. It doesn't give her full name, thank god, just her first name but there she is in picture form for everyone to see who exactly the bride has been talking about.
I didn't know what to do so I called my Mom. I gave her a general run down of what I had found and my Mom said that this was the trouble with technology and that I should just sit on it. And I said, "Really? Don't do anything? Let me just read you exactly what was written." So I did and then said again how my friend's picture was easily linked to the post. Mom thought it was pretty awful and suggested that I wait to see if the bride posts anything later because the last thing the bride wrote was how she was going out with the Maid of Honor and another bridemaid tonight, to see if maybe she and my friend get things worked out, and if not, to contact my friend tomorrow to let her know this information is out there on the internet about her.
Whether what the bride wrote about the friend is true or untrue (I really don't know), I don't think she had the right to post those things about my friend, when there is a picture that everyone can see of her on the same site.
So two questions for you:
1) How would you proceed from here? (Would you only let my friend know if they bride continued to post negative stuff about her? Or should she know what is already out there about her?)
2)Would you want to know someone had written stuff about you like that online or since it won't come up in a Google search of your name, would you rather be left in the dark?
Ok, how about a third:
Have you ever found something written online about you, bad or good, that you didn't know existed? How did it make you feel? What did you do?