No sense harping on the past, unless you’re tagged in it

Not too long ago I got the email notification that everyone dreads: “(Person you are ‘friends’ with but haven’t spoken to, seen, or even thought about in more than 10 years) tagged a photo of you on Facebook!”

“What the … ”

(immediately logs on to Facebook, heart beating fast in chest)


And there it was, in all its pre-digital camera resolution glory. Me, about a dozen or so years ago, standing next to a co-worker from my second job out of college, during what appeared to be some sort of super-lame, themed office function. Lord only knows what the theme was, but I was wearing an oversized Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, and a sombrero (Mexico meets Hawaii meets Old Navy?). One could assume that such a wild, untamed outfit in an otherwise professional atmosphere would have led to some semblance of joy, but I looked very sad. Somewhere off in the distance was a plate of homemade spinach dip resting on a copy machine. Most importantly for the purposes of my embarrassment, I was carrying about 40 pounds of extra post-college beer weight that seemed unhidden despite the flow-y nature of the aforementioned Hawaiian shirt.

My former co-worker had added the comment, “Was going through some old photos and found this! LOL!”

Yeah, lol, I’LL GIVE YOU LOL!

I immediately deleted the photo while on my phone, but I needed to cover all my bases and wanted to get on the computer to make sure it was deleted accordingly. Unfortunately my wife, who was finding my dilemma increasingly hilarious, was doing actual work on the computer and would not let me on. I pleaded with her, “You need to let me on, this is a CODE RED emergency!” But she just laughed and laughed and laughed, adding that it serves me right, noting one of the handful of instances where I apparently embarrassed her. Such is her sense of justice.

I stewed about it until I was able to get on the computer, and when I did it seemed as though the photo had indeed been deleted. This was a close call—I could go hours without checking my email or Facebook, but it just so happened I became aware of this within 10 minutes or so of it posting. Adding to my concern was the fact that I had recently become involved in a good natured “meme war” with my friends from back east, where we’d find somewhat unflattering pictures of each other on Facebook
or, in their case, the same unflattering pictureadd silly captions, and share them. Ya' know, sort of like this:

For my birthday
For National Tequilla Day, obvs

These are fine, but had my friends gotten a hold of this other one, I just … I’d rather not even think about it. (It should be mentioned that I somewhat raised the stakes on the meme war by re-posting an old high school photo of my friends in which they looked like Crockett and Tubbs, and titling it after the Jay-Z/Kanye West album. I REGRET NOTHING.) Friendships may have lost. Just goes to show you—never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never get involved in a meme war on Facebook.

I also changed my privacy settings. Now if someone wants to tag me in something on Facebook, they must first fill out an application at the Library of Congress.

Honestly though, what are people thinking? If I found an old picture of someone I don’t really speak to anymore, and in the picture that person looked like an overweight, confused tourist, I wouldn’t post it on social media for everyone to see. But such is the age in which we live.

Which reminds me: old timers? Yeah, maybe you walked uphill both ways to school and like, fought valiantly for our freedom and stuff. But thank your lucky stars you didn’t live in an age where your unflattering past can resurface at any time as public information. These days, your past can find you out of nowhere, and when it does, it will look you in the face and condescendingly say, “Aloha.”

Note: This column appears in the 9/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/27 issue of the Peoria Times.


Bill said…
Great article. I often wonder when most people's default setting went to, "Post this on the Internet regardless of whether I've been given explicit consent to do so."

And I'm not even on facebook, but I'm still ON folks can still just post pictures of me and tag them with my full name.
mkenny59 said…
Ha, I know, Bill ... I've SEEN pics of you on fb, and it cracks me up every time. You always look fly though. Always. So there's that.