I’m sure most of you are sick of hearing about Rebecca Black and her new hit single (kind of) “Friday.” But, since this is a blog about grad. school and graduate student experiences, maybe this will be a little different than the rest of what you’ve read. I don’t want to comment on how terrible the song or the singing is, how terribly exploitative the Ark Music Factory is for taking advantage of rich parents who don’t know how to stop spoiling their (somewhat delusional) children, or how this 13-year-old is apparently Kim Kardashian’s cousin. I don’t even want to talk about how she is planning on donating the proceeds from her songs to Japan. I want to talk about how this is going to affect Rebecca Black’s future not as a person, but as a student.
Because, for some reason, after the initial horror I felt watching the video wore off, and after getting all the information on how and why it was even produced in the first place, what I started thinking about was this: what is this girl going to do when she applies to college, if she applies to grad. school, when she applies for jobs?
I’ve mentioned before how important it is to Google yourself periodically to find out what’s out there, to put privacy settings on any public profiles you may have, etc. But what do you do if there’s already something out there and you can’t get rid of it? Or, in Rebecca Black’s case, what do you do if you’ve become so noted for something ridiculous that that’s probably all anyone will identify you with for years to come? Can you spin an application or a resume or an interview to make an old and embarrassing YouTube video an asset or a learning experience? What in the world is Rebecca Black going to do with herself if (or, in my opinion, when) this “I have to watch because it’s like watching a train wreck” kind of fame wears off?
At least when I was 13 all that was really around was AIM. The worst things I ever did online were make an AIM pen pal named Jessica who had the same birthday as I did and attempt to make a Hermione Granger fan site (meaning I didn’t really do anything bad or embarrassing…unless you think pen pals and/or Hermione are evil). The big player for posting embarrassing things in my day was DeadJournal/LiveJournal. And, let's be honest, everyone’s a little emo as a teenager. Right? The point is, once the much more public MySpace and YouTube became big I was old enough to be aware of what I was doing, and it wasn’t so commonplace that you didn’t think twice about posting things. But what are all these kids and teenagers going to do when they try to enter college or the professional world and all anyone can think when they see their name is “Aren’t you that guy/girl from that YouTube video?”
Am I crazy to think about this when I listen to “Friday”? I mean, Rebecca Black’s parents certainly didn’t think about it. Do you think this kind of fame is ephemeral enough that I shouldn’t be concerned? But, then again, isn’t the internet basically eternal?