The risk of not taking any risks

This is depressing. I found it in a set of rules for blogging.

Whenever you post anything to the Internet — whether on a weblog, in a discussion group, or even in an email — think about how it will look to a hiring manager in ten years. Once stuff’s out, it’s archived, cached, and indexed in many services that you might never be aware of.

Years from now, someone might consider hiring you for a plum job and take the precaution of ‘nooping you first. (Just taking a stab at what’s next after Google. Rest assured: there will be some super-snooper service that’ll dredge up anything about you that’s ever been bitified.) What will they find in terms of naïvely puerile “analysis” or offendingly nasty flames published under your name?

Maybe. Maybe.

But here’s another thought. Your future employer will be looking to see if you have a bit of go about you, a bit of spirit, or that at least you once did, once upon a time. Have you any youthful indiscretions to talk about, and if not why not? He wants, above all, to avoid hiring one of those completely risk-averse, bloodless semi-humans who organised his entire adolescence around not looking bad twenty years later. He wants someone who has tried stuff, done stuff, and made mistakes. He does not want William bloody Hague, who only became human after he had made a total cods of being Leader of the Conservative Party.

David Cameron looks just like another of these bloodless, calculating, boy-machines. If he becomes the next Leader of the Conservatives, it will be because he has now, suddenly, acquired a bit of a past, with human blood flowing through it, possibly, allegedly, maybe, no concrete evidence.

If you never do anything or even say anything that you regret, then the chances are that you will have something far bigger to regret later, which is never having done anything at all.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

One thought on “The risk of not taking any risks”

  1. better to have blogged and lost…

    Posted by Mark Holland on 19 October 2005

    Or just use a pseudonym…

    Posted by Sir Abraham Bond III on 20 October 2005

    Sir Abraham Bond III

    Using a pseudonym is dull and young fogeyish. You are a young semi-human with political ambitions. I can tell. No denials will convince.

    And what is more, someone will work out who you really are and your much fantasised about political career will be ruined anyway.

    You can’t make a name for yourself if it’s a fake name.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 20 October 2005


    I posted the flippant comment. I have to admit your comment hit a nerve, so apologies for the length of this comment. Yes, some bloggers (including myself) are worried about what their employers would think of their writing. It’s a bit harsh to call us semi-human though, especially when you seem to not have encountered a typical risk-averse human resources department.

    Perhaps one day I’ll have the bottle to write stuff under my own name, around the same time I start my own business or inherit lots of money from a forgotten relative. As for political ambitions, I haven’t the education or the nerve.

    Posted by Charles Pooter on 21 October 2005


    All comments are welcome here, until they really pile up and I start to get blase. That’ll be the day. And come that day, yours will still be most welcome.

    To be more serious, I suppose much depends on what kind of employment one is going to want in the future. Personally, I want to get paid to write, and that’s finally begun to happen. And the regularity with which I have tried to stick to my various self-imposed blogging schedules has reflected my surmise about what future employers/customers would think. I surmised that they would value regular adequacy and interestingness above irregular brilliance. So I guess I played it safe too.

    Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 21 October 2005

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