These days, we all wonder what our digital legacy will be. More specifically, what exactly will our kids find out about us when they run our name through a search engine years from now? For most people, their children will find a handful of mostly-mundane Instagram pics, some dodgy Facebook statuses, inflammatory tweets, and maybe some prior job information.
But what if you’re a writer speaking about the tumultuous landscape of gender studies and feminism? That’s what Hugo Schwyzer wonders. And beyond finding his own site’s description of him: “an American author, speaker and professor of history and gender studies at Pasadena City College,” what will his daughter find?
Schwyzer’s had what the optimists would call “rich and diverse life experiences.” The cynics would say, on the other hand, that he’s “been in and out of the s**t.”
In case you’ve never heard of Schwyzer – he’s a personable guy (just don’t ask his ex-wife). He’s all that his website declares: he’s an author, a speaker, a professor. He deals with gender studies, and quickly became one of my favorite writers in the fatherhood industry, not because he spoke about fatherhood as some sort of triumphant throne upon which the rest of his life lay – but because Schwyzer wrote about fatherhood as a struggle. His writing on The Good Men Project was exceptional and insightful, and his writing on Jezebel (warning on that link, BTW) engaged a lot of people…in a lot of ways.
Also, as Schwyzer writes in the sauced Role Reboot article, he has a very-now-public past that involved drugs and alcohol, as well as past relationships that didn’t go so amazingly.
So will Schwyzer’s daughter search for his name and be proud of what she sees? Probably. And every writer has to come to terms with the idea of having a public persona. If you can only write from “what you know,” there comes a time when writers have to make a decision about what exactly they’ll disclose. In order to be a good writer, however, you’ve got to dig deep.
The writer Hugo Schwyzer never wonders what people will find out about his personal life in the future. But the father Hugo Schwyzer is like any of us fathers – we shouldn’t regret our past, but use them, as Schwyzer says, as “reminders of the vital reality that human beings can make dreadful mistakes, atone, and transform.”
Check the sauce for Schwyzer’s article at Role Reboot. If nothing else, it’s worth giving a thought to your own digital legacy.