Many of us who were converted to Christ from a foolish and worldly lifestyle have much in our past we wish we could forget. We know and rejoice that God has “forgotten” our sins (Heb. 8:12). Yet we are still haunted by memories we wish we could erase. This painful problem has been worsened for many young Christians today who are haunted by an online past which is even harder to “forget.”Dave Borgenicht highlights this problem from an employment perspective:
These days, it’s getting tougher and tougher to keep a good name unbesmirched. Surveys indicate that as many as half of hiring managers use search engines to screen job applicants, and 1 in 10 have rejected potential employees because of damaging information on the web. Even if there’s no one out to get you, it’s likely that you’ve left your own e-trail of embarrassment: Facebook, photos, blog comments, cached web pages, YouTube videos — all these things can provide the world with evidence of your previous poor judgment and wrongdoing.
However, the newly converted Christian has the additional concern about how their online past will impact their future Christian witness, usefulness, friendships, and even marriage. And this problem is only going to get worse as, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, “the age of privacy is over….public is the new social norm.” More and more people are sharing more and more information with more and more people.How then can you escape or erase your online past? Dave Borgenicht offers the following advice as a starting point:
1. Take down your own postings: The vast majority of embarrassing online material consists of things people posted themselves. Remove all such material from your Facebook page, MySpace page, Classmates page, Twitter postings, and anywhere else it appears. When evaluating whether material is unacceptable, imagine your grandmother or a potential employer viewing it.2. Block outsiders: Reset the “settings” on your social networking profiles to limit access only to people you have approved. 3. Search for your name: Find your entire online presence by searching for yourself in every search engine. Dig into all the resulting pages and open every link. Look for pictures from your past in which you are doing embarrassing or questionable activities, such as doing a keg stand, setting a police car on fire, or wearing stonewashed jeans. 4. Search smarter: Redo your search, this time searching for just your last name, in combination with your hometown, college, or any institution you’ve been a member of, such as a scouting organization, sorority, or fight club. 5. Politely request removal: E-mail the administrator of any site that includes dubious material relating to you, and ask them politely to remove it.
Some of the other suggestions are more humorous (I think?). But the overall point is serious and relevant for new Christians. There is simply no point in giving the devil extra ammunition. (Perhaps churches should help new Christians with this?)Ultimately we have to trust the Lord with our reputations. If we cannot escape or erase our past sins, whether from our memories or from computer memories, then we can pray that God will humble us with them and use them to ever remind us of His amazing grace to wretches like us. Picture: 2009 © Doug Owens. Image from BigStockPhoto.com