How best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing?
It's often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances -- no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you've done is often the first thing everyone knows about you.
Facebook's nearly 500 million members, or 22 percent of all Internet users, spend more than 500 billion minutes a month on the site.
It's stunning to contemplate how large a responsibility the company has for information belonging to a growing number of people around the world.
We are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent -- and public -- digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts.
Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems.
If you think that things couldn't get any worse, wait till the 2020s.
Today's concerns may soon become tomorrow's existential crises.