It must be peculiar for children of the Internet age. They are the first to have a complete record of their whole lives. They are the first who’ll be able to offer concrete proof of every one of their days, friends, and actions.
Eric Schmidt worries, however, that they’ll be the first who’ll never be allowed to forget their mistakes.
As the Telegraph reports, Schmidt spoke Saturday at the Hay Festival in the U.K. and offered some sobering thoughts for those addled by online life.
He said: "There are situations in life that it’s better that they don’t exist. Especially if there is stuff you did when you were a teenager. Teenagers are now in an adult world online."
Some days, you could hardly describe most of what happens online as "adult." Still, Schmidt says he believes the online world has gone too far in forcing teens to never forget.
In bygone times, he said, they were punished, but allowed to grow beyond youthful indiscretions.
Some might wonder that teenagers aren’t punished enough these days, so the online world acts as a peculiar corrective.
However, my own worry is the use of the word "mistake."
This is a word that is always couched in certainty, but often has a highly fluctuating meaning.
A word or an act can seem like a mistake when it happens — and even shortly afterward. In years to come, though, you might look back on it and see that, though it created friction and even hurt at the time, it served a higher and more character-forming purpose in the long run.