It’s very interesting (and possibly unfortunate) that one of the internet’s greatest strengths and assets is also one of its worst qualities. I’m referring to the internet’s capability to write everything in ink, rather than pencil. What do I mean by this? Well, I’m talking about the fact that virtually everything you ever put on the internet stays there… forever (or until the day when all of the machines and electronics in the world fail and we are either finally freed from their burdons… or destroyed). This can be both good and bad. It’s great, because you have access to virtually everything that’s been put on the internet since Al Gore so impressively put it together whenever Al Gore impressively (and allegedly) put it together. It’s bad… for the very same reason. Let’s explore this more by recounting my personal trials and tribulations with old Xanga and Blogdrive accounts.
Prior to receiving my job at Big Fuel (nice!), I spent months and months job searching… furiously scouring job sites, job boards, and company twitter accounts in hopes of finding somebody that would take a chance on a big dreamer and all around pretty cool guy. About 2 months into my search, it was time for the bi-monthly googling of my own name. Now, whether you admit it or not, there’s nothing better and more exciting than googling your name, especially if there aren’t that many of you (only Luke Kingma in the US, proud to say) just to see what comes up. It’s not at all as cocky or selfish as it sounds. I’d call it healthy, self-interested curiosity. I didn’t know it then, but this month’s googling was more urgent and important than ever before.
You see, I didn’t think of this the first few months that I was applying for jobs, but a lot companies who have potential interest in a candidate will try as hard as they can to find out everything they can about them before bringing them into their office. With the internet as it is (as I’ve already talked about), it’s not that hard. Unless you’re a John Smith or an Emily Johnson, chances are you’re going to be found one way or another. Companies are very good at googling, and they will find you. If you’re applying to be the soda fountain syrup re-filler at an interstate rest stop, you don’t have a whole lot to worry about. If you’re applying to a job that requires ideation, creativity and humor, however, managing the search results of your name becomes critical. This is where I bring in Xanga and Blogdrive.
We all had one. Back when social networks hadn’t quite engulfed nearly every waking moment of our lives, and before the extent of our communication skills were reduced to Facebook Chat, Creepy Facebook Inbox Letters and BlackBerry Messaging, Xanga was the place to go. You wrote about your day, or whatever problems you were facing, and the few real life friends you had that cared about those things read and commented about it. They were good days, and have provided me with plenty of good memories. The problem is, they’re still there. Why’s this an issue? Well, the 15 and 16 year old versions of ourselves were not funny at all. We tried to be, and thought we were (and maybe were to people our age back then), but the truth is – we were very unfunny, overly emotional, and pretty ignorant people back then.
When we were 16, we were working at go kart tracks and dirty fast food restaurants, so it didn’t matter. As we move into the world of real employment, though, it’s imperative that companies don’t find these pages, especially as a first impression. You see, when i googled my name, my Xanga appeared near the top of my search listings. So did my Blogdrive page (which was even older). Imagine an HR representative who is looking for a creative director and idea man finding this post in his search for information about you. You (meaning me) were probably about 16 at the time. It took all of the self-respect I had to post this for you:
Yikes. Ignore the embarrassing fact that I was listening to the band “MEST” while I wrote this. I’m a big enough person to admit that this is probably one of the least funny things ever written down anywhere in the history of everything. There’s more, but I just can’t bring myself to give it to you. But this is what I did when I was 15/16 years old. I wrote stupid blogs with annoyingly spaced and capitalized sentences, liked the Miami Dolphins (embarrassing enough in itself), made irrelevant and terrible connections between unrelated objects and events, and used “yur” in place of “you’re.” In short, I was an obnoxious punk kid. I don’t regret these times, and actually enjoy going back and reading how unbelievably lost I was in all areas of life, but companies that might hire me probably won’t. In fact, reading this would probably earn my resume a violent tribal torching instead of its traditional recycling bin fate.
Now, that was Blogdrive. Xanga, where my forays a year after the Blogdrive days were documented, was no better:
What an incredibly erroneous, unfounded, and ignorant statement (the Colin Powell thing, not the Pringles thing. I still maintain that Pringles are terrible). Such blatant disregard of well-documented fact and such disrespect for one of the (then) leaders of our nation is unforgivable, and never funny. And look – a year later and I still have that stupid “space after every sentence” and “every word capitalized” writing style. The Luke Kingma they’re learning about from these sites is about as un-hirable as they come. To make matters worse, there are pictures of me from these days when I didn’t know how to wear clothes and didn’t know how to not have stupid hair:
Wow. Would you hire that kid? Me, either. I wouldn’t even go near him. And I was him (I swear I don’t look like that anymore). Point of all of this is pretty simple, and actually pretty serious. I’m not saying that you should delete your old sites. Definitely don’t do that. It’s too hilarious to go back and look at what a dumb, dumb kid you were. At the very least, however, I’d recommend that you go and remove your name from the site so it doesn’t show up in searches. If you ever want a real, decent job, that is. If you don’t, well, good luck to you! Lesson learned.
Afterthought: While looking through all of the terribleness that are my old blogs, I did manage to find something that is still awesome. My high school senior year yearbook photo:
This will never not be funny. What a clever thing! See, I always had potential.