Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Social Networking and the Krystal Ball

I recently wrote a features piece in the Edinburgh University student newspaper, The Student, about the effects of the digital age on our professional lives. Then yesterday, I read this story about Krystal Ball, potentially the youngest female congresswoman at 28 years old. Her age is very relevant to the story, and why? Because she grew up in the digital age, and therefore, has left a digital footprint behind her, including some embarrassing Facebook photos.

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I can't help but be in two minds about this story. I want to support her in saying that this was a youthful folly, that it doesn't mean she wouldn't make a great congresswoman. But not only is this not exactly ‘ancient history’ in the scope of her short life, but let's also look at some maths…

She's 28 years old. She graduated from college in 2003. The man with her in the 'embarrassing' Facebook photos is her ex-husband. She is now married again and they had a daughter in 2008.

So, sometime between graduating 7 years ago, she got marriage, wore a stupid costume and posted the pictures online, got divorced, got married again, became a mum and then decided to run for congress. While also nurturing her business career…

It seems to me (and I am not an American voter!) that in her short life, Ms. Ball has been fairly impetuous.

It doesn't exactly take a genius, let alone any person with ambition, to realise that any embarrassing pictures from their 'youth' are potentially damning and damaging. If it is necessary to be in the embarrassing position in the first place, then why not destroy the evidence?

I admire her for running, and also for how she has handled the situation – I just don’t know how watertight her argument is. She simply isn’t old enough to shrug off her youthful mistakes, and she certainly appears to have a rocky personal history… Is she a good role model for young women? I can think of better stories to inspire…

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