Your permanent record

Someone did me the favor of forwarding the link for a Harlem Shake video yesterday. (Thanks a lot, btw., and in the spirit of paying it forward: I had managed to avoid witnessing this viral craze until Wednesday afternoon, but watching a clip of a dance move that has been recycled, following its heyday in the 80’s, got me thinking about the evolving nature of the historical record

Months or years from now when today’s Harlem shakers apply for government jobs, run for office or look to join the teaching staffs of our public schools, some odd things are going to show up in the process of potential employers checking the background of these currently-carefree souls. Like it or not, we all leave a lasting, maybe permanent, footprint of almost everything we do these days, but perhaps in this day and age gyrating in a gorilla costume to Baauer will not be held against you in the long run.

It seems a little funny to me that just the other day, after writing about the importance of the training log, I was struck today by the fact that my GarminConnect data may very well be around somewhere long after I am gone. Aside from the fact that such information represents no readily apparent value added to human existence, it also makes it impossible to fudge the numbers on workouts, races, etc. in true ‘the older I am the faster I was’ fashion.

I’ve searched on various occasions for the time from my first road race-a 10k at 12 years of age- to no avail. That race result, like many of the well thought out, and some of the more impulsive and foolish, things I did back in the 80’s may very well exist somewhere. While the race result is most likely to be buried on microfiche in a public library, I can confidently and gratefully say that most of my youthful missteps from the Beastie Boys era were not chronicled for time immemorial.

In the running works, if we can’t watch a webcast or follow live results from a meet or race, it’s almost as though that event fails to exist. As we all should realize, however, virtually everything that happens nowadays exists in real time and forever more.

That seemingly cryptic tweet, breakout race result, friend’s 21st birthday party or flirty snap chat? Make them count. They’re all going down on your permanent record.


About Drew Wartenburg

Director of Cross Country/Track & Field at UC Davis
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