Say you're a 26-year-old who just got hired as a middle school teacher. You love your new job. Your students are great. But what if they Google you and make it to the third page of results, where there's a link to a sexually explicit column you wrote years ago for a now defunct Web magazine? Awkward. Maybe even a threat to your career. Alas, the erstwhile editor of the site won't remove the piece. And even if he did it would live on -- it's hard to remove anything from the Internet.
Or maybe what vexes someone is photo-tagging. When John Doe attended that gay pride parade while visiting New York City, he never realized his image would be captured in a huge crowd, his Sacramento Kings cap atop his head, or that technology would make it possible to zoom in on his features, or that facial recognition software would tag the photo as him. Now he's back in Fresno freaking out. What if people at the plant where he works figure out that he's closeted? So he takes to the Web. Photoshops himself into all sorts of unlikely places. Tienanmen Square. The gold medal platform at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In the crowd for "The Shot Heard Round the World." All while wearing that same cap. Suddenly the gay pride parade shot is just one more iteration on the photo meme that he or some prankster buddy made.A Plausible Thought About the Future