My uncle found me on “the Google” yesterday. This was quite a milestone since we’re (by and large) a computer illiterate family. He told me on the phone last night that I’m third-ranked in a Google search of my somewhat obscure last name. I was at once frightened (this is how I act around a computer), and proud (my ego thought that I had arrived). Even though I was admittedly (and pathetically) excited about being found by a family member who was intentionally looking for me, it got me thinking about the words we say online and how they can be unearthed by anyone, at any time. I don’t think we necessarily have to be careful. It’s way more important to be real.
While watching what you say is the overly cautious, pessimistic way to look at the issue, others find positive opportunities to connect with sometimes-anonymous search engine browsers by just being themselves. All the time. This is an especially important concept when talking about sustainability.
A good example is a recent blog post by Jeffrey Schwartz of Timberland about a seemingly simple issue: getting rid of bottled water in Timberland’s corporate offices. In simple terms, Jeffrey tells about the struggle of kicking the plastic habit in a large corporate office, down to the dining hall manager’s requirement of an extra dishwasher for the additional glassware (now needed to replace the bottles). Some may say that openly talking about problems exposes a flaw. I think it’s an important part in telling a company’s sustainability story. Everyone’s trying to learn – and more importantly everyone is struggling to overcome the same common barriers. While “proprietary” may have been the word of the past several years, obstructing the view of your company’s actions doesn’t work anymore. Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s nice to share?