Why I Call Myself a Digital Hygienist

Why I Call Myself a Digital Hygienist

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Many articles about interviewing for a job will tell you that one of the oldest clichés is to describe yourself as a “detail-oriented perfectionist.” This is to be avoided because the use of this phrase makes the interviewer think that the candidate will get swallowed up in detail, missing deadlines and delaying projects.

That being said, it is important to take care of the little details. Neglecting something that seems minor could have serious consequences in the future. A delayed software update, a shared password, or a forgotten online account could prove to be the cause of an unforeseen disaster.

One day, I was reading Sally Kohn’s article about being doxxed. The phrase “digital hygiene” caught my eye. Kohn defined digital hygiene as “[ensuring] basic privacy and safety” on the Internet. I liked the phrase so much that I added a new title to my LinkedIn profile – digital hygienist.


What is digital hygiene?


The phrase “digital hygiene” was first used in 2006, when Dr. Eduardo Gelbstein published his e-book Good Digital Hygiene: A guide to staying safe in cyberspace. Gelbstein’s e-book is an excellent guide to protecting your devices and personal information from malware and theft.

Today, the phrase “digital hygiene” is used mostly in reference to journalists when protecting their sources and themselves from discovery. Less commonly, it is used in reference to keeping the data and operating systems on your devices orderly and updated.

I suggest a third definition: the actual physical care of the devices themselves. After all, “hygiene” is a synonym for cleanliness. Physical cleanliness matters just as much as a good anti-virus program. Vents and fans clogged with dust can cause your computer to overheat. A cracked smartphone screen will cause a lot of inconvenience.


Keyboards are Disgusting

Image courtesy of XKCD

What does a digital hygienist do?


If a dental hygienist (as Wikipedia says) “assesses a patient’s condition in order to offer patient-specific preventative and educational services to promote and maintain good oral health,” then a digital hygienist assesses the condition of a client’s computers, mobile devices, and digital real estate (i.e. websites) and educates them on preventative measures to keep their devices and their information safe from harm. Much like your dentist and doctor explains how your body works and how to take care of it; a digital hygienist can do the same for your computer.

As a computer repair technician, it is part of the job to build and repair hardware. So knowing how to clean a machine is a part of my skill set.
Over the next few weeks, I will show you some simple techniques that you can perform yourself. I will show you:
  • how to protect your devices from shock
  • how to remove stains and spills
  • which household cleaning items are safe to use on a computer (and which aren’t)
Next week, I will identify the greatest enemies to electronic devices.


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