The future will hold quite a few unpleasant surprises, and one of the biggest will be the persistence of comments made on social media. People who make thoughtless, ill-considered, or nakedly hateful comments will find themselves haunted by them for years. They will apply for jobs and not get hired, they will ask people out on dates and be rejected, and they will find themselves shunned by their social groups and not know why.

New businesses will develop a promise to scrub the web of embarrassing past commentary, but the service will be expensive and never 100 percent effective. Instead, people will slowly learn a simple lesson: Never write anything online that you won’t be comfortable with people reading 20 or 30 years down the road.

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