Celebrities and politicians alike have fallen victim to internet sleuths who dig up evidence of unsavory behavior from decades past. While some of these mistakes are completely unprofessional and rightly damning, this is a slippery slope that leaves no one safe online. Fortunately, as time goes on, I think blunders will occur less often because millennials have known the dangers of the internet all along.
Tech writer, Maya Kosoff explains, “Having grown up with the Internet, we knew that the things we put online were potentially permanent and that, inevitably, someone was watching. We internalized its omnipresent logic of surveillance, crafting out behavior and our virtual selves in accordance with the knowledge that someone, somewhere might one day judge us.”
This is not to say that millennials are somehow less problematic than older generations. I believe that our comfort with our lives online will lead to fewer problems down the road. Perhaps this is why millennials are so willing to buy-in to “cancel culture” in the name of political correctness—they have less patience for people who don’t understand internet etiquette.
Millennials are using social media in ways that older generations have not. According to the American Press Institute, young people get their news directly from social media instead of reading through articles, watching the news, or buying printed papers. Cultivating an online brand for professional networking is another social media skill millennials have developed.
Politicians have already caught on to the fact that they need to be more accessible online in order to reach their millennial constituents. Though some of these attempts are a flop—like Beto’s live streamed dentist appointment—others have proven to be more successful. AOC always seems to be her genuine socialist-self with her sassy Tweets.
With such a constant influence in their daily lives, millennials have held the highest level of transparency online, both personally and professionally. Financial Times adds that “Such is the challenge facing millennials, the first generation who came of age online. Our individual evolution from pre-teens to professional adults is preserved for all to see.”
Social media will inevitably make a difference in 2020, and I hope all candidates remember the golden rule of the internet: Anything on the internet lasts forever. Post accordingly!