What Does it Mean to Live a ‘Truthful’ Life Online?

Paris Brown: an (a)typical teenager revealing her worst true self?

Make a mistake when you are 14 and you might never escape it now for the rest of your life. Who wants to start a ‘social media life coaching’ business, were we edit people’s social media past and make them look credible and responsible?

As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett writes in The Guardian “Rows about social media continue to erupt, as [Paris Brown] knows to her cost, but for many of us online and offline life has merged”

Has the notion of individual civic and moral responsibility been off the agenda for too long? Are our identities to be subject only to the market and commercial manipulation, or will there be a re-examination of civic and ethical virtues that stand in parallel and in contrast to these so-called mainstream values? What does it mean to live a ‘truthful’ life online?

After all, who of us has a perfect life and a perfect record of that life on social media? As Oscar Quine writes in The Independent “Young people who have been raised being candid about our lives online are now entering, or attempting to enter, the world of work. We’re told that the first thing a potential employer may do is trawl applicants’ social media.” Do our employers now own our lives, as far as they are represented by social media? Will employers expect clear separation between professional and personal identities? Can these identities be kept completely apart? Is it desirable to keep these identities apart? Would an over-zelous employer keen to protect their supposed reputation deny individuals the right to form their own independent views and to express those views?

I pity Paris Brown, she has been caught in a storm that has been created by people who are less than transparent themselves, and who would not be able to show a stainless copybook if they are themselves called to account. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

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