Reputation Free Passes

August 18, 2010

Reputation Free Passes

See full size imageIn an interview with the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt opines on the future of search. He makes an interesting predicition in the wide-ranging interview. Schmidt says: “…apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.”
This notion of name-change raises interesting questions about reputation if we can disown our youthful indiscretions and misguided ways from the past.  If reputation can be altered or amended at the magic age of 18 or 21, how authentic can reputation really be? I wonder if the younger people he is talking about are now more careful about their actions, relationships and words because they know deep down that we are all indexed somewhere. To give younger people a digital eraser as they enter adulthood might just keep them (not all) from properly shaping their moral character and understanding that there are consequences to what they do.

Of course, I would very much like to think that everyone gets one free pass sometime in life and could opt to wipe out one past error or misstep but I think that given the choice, it would be agony to pick just one! Also, there seems to be an entire business devoted to burying those misdeeds so not sure changing one’s name is necessary.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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