Facebook: Scandal- Maker of Tomorrow

Sometime in late June of the year 2044, a thirty-one year old blogger named David Sullivan stares intently at a computer screen in a quiet corner of his damp basement apartment.

He shifts slightly in his secondhand IKEA armchair, grunting as he reaches for a torn bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Digging aggressively into the greasy crumbs with one hand, he carefully scrolls through a collection of thumbnail photographs with the other, his eyes darting rapidly back and forth over chaotic images of an early twenty-first century college house party. In one shot a group of girls grope one another suggestively, each of them clutching a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor. In another a crowd of red-faced students stand around a battered keg, watching eagerly as two young men chug deeply from red plastic cups, racing each other at breakneck speed to the brink of black-out oblivion.

Sullivan stops suddenly on a dimly lit image of chubby male student swigging cheap vodka from a plastic bottle. The next shot is the same student, now in mid-fall, his glazed eyes wide with surprise, the bottle abandoned on the ground at his side. Two thumbnails later the chubby kid is back on his feet and grinding up against one of the malt liquor girls, his pale face frozen in drunken ecstasy.

“Gotcha,” Sullivan whispers, glancing over at his television. The chubby kid, now thirty years older, stares back from a podium ringed with American flags, his arms waving aggressively as he delivers an impassioned speech about the fiscal woes of the middle-class auto worker. He is Thomas Miller, junior senator from California and the Independent nominee for president of the United States. Tomorrow, when Sullivan posts the damning photographs on his popular blog, Miller — who has billed himself as a squeaky clean political outsider — will face a media hellstorm. He will lose his nomination, drop out of the race and retire begrudgingly to the fleeting shadows of defamed anonymity. He will be temporarily ruined and permanently frowned upon. He will rue the day he let his roommate post those damn photos on Facebook.

Of course, that’s just a hypothetical situation. The question is how soon it will be a reality. With the sheer amount of unfiltered information that our young generation feeds so willingly to the vast social landfill of the Internet, it’s entirely conceivable to imagine a day when every political candidate, every high-powered CEO, every teacher, parent and community leader is subject to the unforeseen embarrassment of some long-forgotten Facebook snapshot. Whether depicting casual drug use or the whiskey-driven exposure of one’s cleavage, many of our wildest college experiences are now etched permanently into the flame-retardant fabric of the World Wide Web.

Untag all you want. The Internet is a cruel, unforgiving mistress and she’s gonna haunt you with one hell of a vengeance.

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