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Life in the 90s vs now. Wanting a more simple life

TL;DR at bottom: I started using the net when I was 12 years old. I have a decade’s worth of blowing up in anger at businesses and calling people insults, reverse-trolling trolls, screaming at people in online gun games, etc. I am overwhelmed by the thought that this is going to impact my future. All of the discord messages I sent to people in disdain, etc. To get my first few jobs I provided source codes of projects I had worked on in communities where I’d dump on people that would pretend to be dumb or try to be insulting. I was pretty good at poking the bear and walking away. It made me feel good when I could one-up someone that was being a jerk into not replying anymore because I made them look like a bum out of themselves.

I do have problems with anxiety, but I never really put a lot of thought into how much what I’m doing is all linked and tracible. No matter how much I try to wipe all past accounts, change email addresses, change phone numbers, change Github accounts, change twitch accounts, etc

I’ve been a jerk to people for a long time until I realized something - most people won’t change and if they do it’s of their own accord. Educating someone on their mistakes can lead them to lashing out at you or banning you. Some people can’t handle being corrected or feel you’re doing it only to insult them. People can have a lot of pride about certain aspects of themselves and will pretend to have knowledge or awareness they don’t in order to maintain that.

When I want to start a real business someday in the near future, I’ve no doubt someone that decides they’re upset I’m successful that had spoken to me at one point will grab a log of a conversation I had had with them at one point.

I think the scariest thing about living in this time is millennials and Gen Z grew up in an online environment and neither have really heeded much mind to the possibility that their paper trail to review things is also everyone else’s paper trail.

Another thing that concerns me is how much monitoring there is in 2020. Even homeless people have phones with cameras on them. I wish I could go back to a time in the early 90’s where we weren’t monitored so constantly. When you could get by on your own merits - not on Google. I’ve wasted a lot of time talking crap to people online because I didn’t have many friends, and it was something I could “win” at. It scares the crap out of me that I could talk to a young girl that is lost and be recorded, and someone could try to cancel me for attempting to groom said girl. It’s so easy for 1 person to ruin your life now unless you’re extremely wealthy. It’s like, you better hope you blow when you’re little and your income rapidly rises before someone tries to latch onto your past behavior - otherwise, good luck. Also, so many companies buy out other companies which can change the policy and ownership of data, which can then be handed out like candy to whoever. Someone internal working at a company could also anonymously put your info out on the dark web. Someone could spend $1000 with a few instances of you looking bad to have a hacker “justifiably” brute force or keylog you and get everything personal.

TL:DR - I have some issues with anxiety. I’m concerned about how much I’ve put out there over the years. This is a pipe dream, but I’m wondering with 25 grand saved up if there is somewhere in the US where I can move to and have a living income and still have my own place and internet access. Somewhere with cheap rent, with simple work. Something I’m not destroying myself physically on, and closer to 32 hours a week - I sometimes just get overwhelmed by 40. I want to reboot my life. I want time to meditate and live in a simple routine. I wish I could find the love of my life and start a family before I am in my mid 30s and live a simple life. I wish we were back in a simpler world - for all of the technology that can help us health-wise, our lives are kind of an open book to anyone ambitious enough to crack it. I could go on disability for high functioning ADD, and and anxiety.

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It’s funny, having grown up in the 90s, I wish I had grown up in the 50s for the same reason–it was a simpler time. I don’t think my heavy internet usage started until about 2006, when Myspace was at its peak and you needed a .edu email address to have a Facebook. At that time, I and my peers pioneered cyberbullying, and it’s taken off from there. I feel bad for a lot of the things that I said, but the constant camera recording and instant nature of smartphones (which were kind of a novelty until 2010) are really horrifying, and I’m so glad I didn’t grow up in the 2010s.

I understand the satisfaction of “winning” arguments on the internet. I also understand the guilt you feel ages later when you realize how hurtful you were. You’re right, you can’t change people, and bullying them into changing will get you nowhere. That’s why the political climate is as hostile as it is today. Those are things that you can’t take back, but you can make efforts to apologize and atone for them. It can be as simple as writing letters that you don’t send, or it can be direct contact and blunt apologies. Nobody says you can’t change even if they won’t.

Regarding employment, I think the only time that your past internet behavior may come into play is in your pre-employment screening, whether by the background checkers or by your prospective employers checking out your online presence. The background checkers are more concerned with hard facts, like criminal activity and previous employment. Your employers might do a little bit of snooping on Google or socials to see if they can dig up a problematic lifestyle (partying, racism/hate content, etc), but they have more important things to do with their time than exhaustively search for dirt on you. Things may be different in the world of programming, but I’d think it wouldn’t be worth someone’s time to log your conversations, send them to your HR people, and hope that your HR people care enough to actually read them. If that happens, you wouldn’t get terminated immediately; they’d sit you down and question you, at which point you can say it was a different time, I’ve grown up, I regret the things I said, etc. To be safe, make all your socials private and unsearchable as much as you can; cut ties with people who may cause you problems in the future, and take down anything you wouldn’t want someone else reading. That doesn’t mean it isn’t logged, but it will be more of a chore to compile it. As for your personal information, only HR should have access to that, and it’s their job to protect your private information from the world. Not to say that they couldn’t sell it, but they would be breaking some pretty big privacy laws if they did. In pre-employment screenings, all they’re allowed to tell the screeners is whether or not you worked there and whether or not you’re eligible for rehire. In the age of the internet, we’ve been told that we’ll be fired for anything wrong we post. Keep it clean going forward, and it shouldn’t be an issue.

As for your life: $25k should be more than enough to move somewhere and settle in, especially somewhere with cheap rent. To work 32 hours a week, your best bet would probably be to freelance, but you never know what’s out there. Just look around! Don’t put pressure on yourself to get married and have kids in a certain timeframe. Pressuring yourself (and consequently someone else) to make that happen will guarantee failure. Enjoy your time and date around. In time the right woman will come along, and you can plan your next steps from there. My “life plan” was to be married by 26 and have kids by 28. I got married at 30, and there’s a good chance we won’t have kids because we enjoy our lifestyle; but with healthier bodies and better medicine, there’s still plenty of time for us to change our minds.

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Unfortunately, this is a valid concern. Anymore, it seems commonplace for potential employers to check any social media accounts you have in order to get a guage on what kind of person they are potentially hiring.

Well… I guess the positive to be taken out of this is that you /did/ get those jobs and they gave you some real world experience to put on a resume.

I won’t pretend I know this feeling. I like a good debate, but I would never go out of my way to get into a senseless flame war. I’m sure you had your reasons and I know they couldn’t have been pleasant. I’m sorry your anxiety drove you to do those things. However, anger is pretty common with anxiety, surprisingly.

This reminds me of my first day in my Network Security course. My teacher came in and said, The longer you’re in this class, the more paranoid you will become. While all of this knowledge would eventually become healthy paranoia, it is all based in this very real truth - once you put something out there on the web, it will always be there, no matter how much scrubbing you do to old accounts and whatnot.

Ok, this is certainly a possibility but, and I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but I’m a realist, what makes you think that you’re having your own business would make someone go out of their way to post something you said or did? This is to say, usually it’s people who make multiple millions of dollars that draw attention like that in my experience, so that people will feel like maybe they can win a settlement and make a bunch of money or something. Of course anything’s possible, but I doubt a newly formed business would draw that kind of attention. Not to mention, would those people even know it was you? Did you use aliases online and play with people around the world or use your real name?

This is true, but to be fair, the majority of them probably haven’t received the proper education about how what they say and do will have an impact on their futures. (I’m a millennial, but I didn’t get the internet until I was 16 and even then I’ve never gone out if my way to do anything damaging, and since then I’ve educated myself.) This is definitely something that should be addressed, for sure.

Yep, you’re right. I suppose something to take from that is to conduct yourself as if you’re always being recorded. I mean, that thought does little to help paranoia, but it definitely could mean the well-being of your business to anybody you come to know in any place you decide to move. It’s just the way it is anymore. We have to assume we are being recorded, so we should conduct ourselves accordingly, however you want to look to whomever may see a potential recording.

I’m not so sure about this, like I said earlier, it’s the bigger fish that tend to draw /that / kind of attention in my experience, but of course anything’s possible.

I mean… Yes, all of this is possible. I might also get run over by a car tomorrow.

I know all about how crippling anxiety can be. I’ve had Social Phobia and Generalized Anxiety since I can remember, along with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and Avoidant Personality Disorder, all of which have contributed to habitually overthinking every outcome of every decision I’ve ever made. It will eventually destroy you if you let it, but I choose not to let it. I’ve gone through therapy, I’m changing my inner voice and I’ve had to pick and choose my battles so that my anxiety doesn’t smother me.

Yea, someone can hack my data. Someone can buy it and try to smear me. At the end of the day, I am who I am and I own everything I’ve done. That one thing I did when I was 18? Yea, I did that. Do I regret it? Probably, but I can’t change the past. I choose not to dwell on those things because they probably won’t happen to me (famous last words, I know, but I need to decide if my mental health is worth preserving rather than being stuck in that pit of perpetual anxiety, and I think my mental health is worth it). Just like the possibility of me getting run over tomorrow. It can happen. It’s totally within reason. But I choose to believe that it won’t happen, and so far it hasn’t. And in the event it does, I have health insurance. At some point you just have to trust that things will work out. This is coming from someone who has similar thought processes to your own. I am very aware that telling someone with anxiety to stop worrying about something generally doesn’t work. With enough effort though, you can tame those inner thoughts.

The cheapest region to live in the US is in the south, generally speaking. I don’t know if $25k is enough to move and start a business, but it’s definitely a start. Good luck, friend. I wish you well.

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