Modern Rules For Naked Online Living, Part One

Saturday, 7:14pm
Reno, NV
Out of 9 lives, I’ve lived 7…” (The Band, “The Shape I’m In”)

Howdy…

I almost called this post “Web 2.oh no!

And I know I’m just gonna scratch the surface here…

… but a few rules need to be laid down by somebody concerning this “Brave New World of No Freakin’ Privacy Left At All”.

Now, I’ve never noticed much “common sense” actually being very common among my fellow humans…

… but Jeez Louise, the arrival of social media and smart phone cameras has turned us all into ethically-challenged TMZ-level paparazzi.  No sense of right or wrong, no sense of crossing a line or going too far.

And people are gonna get hurt.

Do we need a collective and not-very-subtle whack upside the head here?  Metaphorically speaking, that is.

You decide…

Slap Some Sense Into You Rule #1: Just because you have a camera and recording capabilities on your smart phone, doesn’t mean you have a license to USE it.

Yes, the rest of the world is hurtling toward a Zuckerberg-envisioned future where “privacy” will be a quaint notion that strangely only irritates geezers… sort of like how we now view petticoats, doo wop and basic manners.

However, I would caution privacy-anarchists that this “nothing you do is a secret to us” mindset is how Stalinist Russia maintained control over citizens (see also “1984”, by George Orwell).

Now, what you do in your own sordid life is up to you, of course.  Including allowing basic privacy rights to be dismantled and shed.

However, as a professional, you’ve got to recognize boundaries.  Because there’s a lot at stake here.

We may need to amend The Professional’s Code.  The original (and I’m pretty sure this is my phrasing):  “You show up where you said you’d be, when you said you’d be there, having done what you said you’d do.”

Now, we gotta add:  “And you won’t take a freakin’ photo without getting permission.”

The reason I think we need this new rule is directly related to a couple of incidents at After-Hours parties during seminars.  I love hanging out with other writers and the strange breed of entrepreneur now dominating the biz world.  These cats are fun, smart, and brimming with fascinating tales of Life In The Marketing Fast Lane.

They also tend to play as hard as they work.

Which means the “insider’s only” after-hours parties can look, to an outsider, like one part college dorm bacchanalia, one part Special Forces hazing, and one part Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Now, I assure you that — as far as I know — the parties only look like this to an outsider.

Except for a few truly-insane individuals (who I suspect are headed for the hoosegow anyway), these after-hours celebrations are just collaborative ways to let off steam.  And share war stories with pals.  And laugh heartily and with gusto at M*A*S*H-level puerile humor.  Maybe pull a prank or two.

Okay, and maybe a little singing too loudly, off-key.  Until hotel security shows up.

The thing is, you’re hanging out having fun with people you like…

… and trust.

And I’m pretty sure that snapping photos or recording conversations with the idea of embarrassing someone is a pretty basic violation of that trust…

… and rises to the level of assault when it can harm someone professionally.

Okay, fine… if you’re a licensed detective out to catch a cheating spouse, you’re excused, I suppose.  (And you — why the hell are you cheating, anyway, you no-good louse?)

But if you’re not packing a gumshoe ID, then why are you snapping shots of anything that could be seen as compromising the integrity, or the reputation of a colleague?

And before you mimic the Google buzz-brain CEO who said (on CNBC) “… if you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place…”

just check out the latest round of career-ending gaffes among celebs, politicians, biz owners, and innocent students.

In most cases, they tweeted or texted or said something stupid… and everyone would have long since forgotten about the faux pas IF IT HADN’T GONE FUCKING VIRAL.

You can argue that stupidity is a perfectly acceptable reason to lose your job, or your social standing, or even your self-respect.

However, one glance at the astonishment on the faces of the virally-crushed victims shows you that — minus the Web — they were absolutely not anticipating global blowback from their casual asides or what they mistakenly thought were cute posts.

We’re talking about tasteless jokes from professionally-tasteless comics (Gilbert Gottfried)… clueless coeds who just need a reality check (the UCLA student who posted a rant about Asians talking on cellphones in the library)… and kids getting nailed with sex offender records for sexting each other.

And that’s just in the last couple of days.

I dunno know about you… but even after multiple decades making my way through society, I still say more stupid things than smart things.

And I can think of a hundred times, right off the top of my head, where I said or did something offensive or insulting or tasteless… and immediately wished I could take it back.

That’s what humans do.  Make mistakes.

Hopefully, you’re doing your best to clean up your messes, make real amends (not just mumble “sorry, dude”), and strive to become a Zen self-actualized person.  So you limit the damage you do caroming off the culture as you blunder along the best you can.

Just keep the Golden Rule in mind at all times, if you get confused about the appropriateness of what you’re about to share on the Universe-Wide-Web:  Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

And if you really, really, really don’t care if that shot of you picking your nose goes viral…

… because you have no boundaries or sense of privacy…

… then at least get in the habit of asking people if it’s okay to take a photo or record a moment.

And take “no” for a final answer, dude.

Slap Some Sense Into You Rule #2: Self-inflicted idiocy is not permission to pile on.

The 3 examples I used above are all of tweets, posts and texts that were voluntarily launched into the ether.

In our freshly-soiled world of TMZ-paparazzi-rules, you’re ripe for public flogging and humiliation if you do nothing more than step into view somewhere.  Or “allow” yourself to be caught by a camera (with or without audio).

So self-inflicted embarrassment offers no immunity at all from global shunning.

Nevertheless… at the end of the day, you — as the person helping something go viral — gotta live with yourself.

One of my favorite ways of dealing with assholes is to remember that I can walk away and get on with my life…

… while the asshole has to go home, go to bed, and wake up as the same pathetic loser jerkwad he was the day before.

So while he may have won a skirmish with me, overall he’s trapped in a living hell.  I wouldn’t want to spend 5 seconds inside his skin, dealing with whatever demons have made him such an insufferable wanker.

What’s this got to do with forwarding a photo?

Think about it.

A real pro doesn’t just consider the stuff he might get caught doing.  He also cares when it’s simply a matter of anonymously doing the right thing or not.

There IS karma in this world.

And even the smallest act of piling on makes you guilty as hell when someone gets hurt.

Slap Some Sense Into You Rule #3: “PWC”.

That means “Posting While Compromised”.

Don’t do it.

Like angry emails, the best advice is to get cold before hitting “send” whenever your inhibitions have been doused with liquor, strong emotions, or anything else.

Just don’t do it.

What may seem like just the coolest friggin’ thing to post on your Wall at the moment…

… is — if you’re pickling your brain — probably not cool at all.

And you shouldn’t be sharing it.

Tomorrow, looking at it with a clear head (but blood-shot eyes), you still have oodles of time to post, hit “send”, or upload.

We shouldn’t need basic rules like this.

But the evidence shows we do.  Especially as professionals trying to have a little mildly-inappropriate fun after working hard to create solid, ethical and high-quality deliverables under deadline.

A very old, and very excellent piece of advice for living well is:  “Dance like nobody’s watching.”

It’s a metaphor for living life on your terms, not somebody else’s.

It’s just damn hard to pull off when you realize there are fifty cameras aimed your way, ready to immediately upload hilarious evidence to the cloud if you screw up.

And here’s a note to Zuckerberg: You’re gonna miss your privacy when it’s gone, dude.

Hey — you got a different take on all this?

Let’s hear it in the comments.

Stay frosty,

John

128 Responses to Modern Rules For Naked Online Living, Part One

  1. Nope, no different take here. I totally agree.
    I am very often embarrassed to be a part of the “internet generation”.
    My god, I even keep my voice down when I’m talking to someone on the train!
    Common decency, courtesy and sense are dying, genteel ladies and I only hope that like petticoats and do wop they enjoy a resurgence throughout the years.

    • I’m a fairly genteel “old lady” and I’m doing my best to resurge! By the way, did you notice the correct use of the word “who” in the essay? I’m so pleased. As to the word FUCKING, since it was never spelled out in my generation , I’m not terribly sure of its correctness. But somehow it seems just right

      • Thanks, Lyola… I appreciate your comments. I’m getting tired of having the same silly discussion with prudes over an important English word that is ancient, common, and easily the most-used resource for descriptive language. And yes, you spelled it right.

  2. I’m just happy to see “asshole” and “fucking” in your damn post. Nice to know classic profanity will in fact stand the test of time… even if privacy will not.

    Unfortunately today it’s not so much “posting while compromised” but “posting by idiots”… and that my friend is pure genetics… and Charlie Sheen is their poster child.

    Thanks for the post – enjoyed it immensely!
    Lisa

  3. As a guy who is only fit for public consumption 1% of the time, I wholeheartedly agree.

    Sometimes it seems like most people don’t fear big brother. Instead, they embrace the idea of everyone knowing every detail of their daily existence, right down to when and what they eat.

    Thanks for yet another great post.

  4. I agree with you.

    Many misunderstand the application of “transparency” when it comes to social media. It’s truly a love/hate thing for me.

    Everything is forever. There is no divorcing online. You say it, you do it, it’s yours forever.

    Reminders of the golden rule in your post is perfect. Also, I follow what my mom has always taught us, “If you can’t say (or do) anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” There have been so many words left “unsent” that, as you said, were perfect and precise at the moment, but in the light of the rising sun they just stink.

    Loved reading your take on assholes. I’m going to apply that as well to other types of people in my life now.

    You struck another chord of human decency again John. My privacy, and not being taken out of context when I say or do something, is something I dearly give a “rat’s ass” about.

    Thanks for giving voice to this new level of stupidity.

    Cheryl

  5. Great post John.

    Is there any decency left in the human species. Remember when you messed up in the ‘olden days'(pre-internet) and your buddies and most people in the crowd “didn’t see anything.” “Your story’s safe with me bro.” It was over…never happened. Now everyone can’t wait to expose you. Seems people are enjoying watching the ‘train wrecks’ more and more. Not realizing, maybe not caring, what the collateral damage is.
    I remember coming home one night more than slightly intoxicated and attempting to write(with pen and paper)a letter to my girlfriend. When I woke up, what I could read would’ve for sure ended the relationship and the rest, well, I didn’t know I could write in a different language. Shredded that one. But a FB post would’ve been a whole different story.

    And cell phones…for the people that still use them to talk on. Why do people talk about the most intimate details of their lives while shopping for groceries? And why do they think if they talk louder they will be able to hear better? I don’t even take my phone into stores with me. This idea of having to be constantly connected has just gone way too far.

    BTW, great couple of lines below…from above

    One of my favorite ways of dealing with assholes is to remember that I can walk away and get on with my life…

    … while the asshole has to go home, go to bed, and wake up as the same pathetic loser jerkwad he was the day before.

    • I think you hit on the essential sense of betrayal, Dana — in the “old days”, yes, your buddies watched your back. I still believe my close friends will do that, but there are just too many around who wouldn’t think twice about betraying trust… Maybe we’re just gettin’ paranoid…

      • And thank God for those true friends, because there’s more than a fair share of shysters out there. On a side note, do you think we could clone ourselves just to F with Google?

  6. John, you’re so right about the Karma! What is it with these people who are so clueless about the consequences they’ll face for every thoughtless (and even mean) thing they do to others? Do they even know what the Golden Rule is anymore? Dang … is it still legal to teach it in school?

    Just reading the paper today … does that Gainesville, FL “pastor” know he’s got blood on his hands? Just because you are able to do something doesn’t mean that you should! What a world …

  7. I am definitely “Dancing like nobody is watching” and feeling very out of step with the social media generation.

    I don’t believe that “being famous” is a career option.

    I don’t believe that the only bad publicity is no publicity.

    I don’t believe that the public has a right to know except in cases of potential abuse of authority.

    I have absolutely no interest in celebrity trivia, A list or Z list and I would like to retain the option to choose what I share about myself.

  8. How about that gal who posted herself for sale on YouTube so she could make money for college? (Remember her?) She was annoyed because nobody took her up on her offer. She should be thanking God nobody did! Imagine if a prospective employer saw that one.

    People seem to be oblivious to long term consequences these days, or of being overheard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a public restroom and the gal in the stall next to me is spilling her guts on her cell phone while she’s peeing. This lack of concern for privacy seems to be characteristic of the younger crowd, however—I have never seen anyone over 30 use a cell phone in the restroom, much less have an intimate conversation on it. Perhaps that’s because those of us 30 and over didn’t HAVE cell phones when we were growing up.

    My cell phone is used for business only. If friends want to talk, they call me at home unless it’s an emergency. I live so far under the radar that Google can’t even find me (I’ve checked)and that is just how I like it. I don’t need the whole world looking over my shoulder every time I do something.

    Great post, John—thank you. This should be required reading for everyone 29 years and under!

    • Well said Sharon, and congratulations on living that far below the radar!

      I’m not exactly high profile online, but I can be googled, and I can’t say I’m 100% comfortable with that. Too late now of course, but maybe if I slip away quietly no one will notice…:)

  9. Thank You! Your voice, but my thoughts. We should all remember that common sense is probably the least common of all traits…especially in human beings.

  10. 2 Thumbs Up! If only people realized how often their posts are reviewed by potential employers, college admission counselors, insurance claims officers, and loan officers to name a few – maybe they would walk away from that post & think before hitting send.

  11. G’Day John,
    Well said:There isn’t such a thing as privacy any more. That’s a sad thing for an old bloke like me. But as John Wooden said,
    “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

    Make sure you have fun

    Regards

    Leon

    • I like that saying from Wooden, too…

      My generation (the Boomers) sort of invented the idea of creating a youth-oriented culture. And it seemed like a good idea at the time, because our elders were just not getting it done. However, as I’ve aged (of course), I see the essential wisdoms that ONLY come with experience as the REALLY GOOD SHIT we need to live well. Young folks cannot fit the idea of anyone in middle age saying that this is the best time to be alive — because being young is so urgent, so in-your-face exciting, so powerful. But also so inexperienced.

      If you’re young and smug, just wait — life will know that smug grin off your face soon enough.

      If you’re older and smug, you’re an idiot. Just come to grips with it, and try not to bother other people too much.

      Young or old, the best attitude is one of calm Zen acceptance of reality. Shit happens, change is unrelenting and constant, chaos reigns, and the only time you can really think everything’s fine is when you stop paying attention to the details.

      Life is a long (hopefully) ride. You never “arrive” anywhere, you just go into and out of chapters or moments or adventures.

      Just do the best you can, enjoy the good parts, weather the bad, and be a better person than the naive, clueless, out-for-themselves mobs surrounding you…

  12. I wrote a song about this called technology is killing me . I’ll send it over in the next comment ,I think you like it.

    people are getting way too personal for no.reason at all with regards to info about the children and what they’re doing at all hours of the day

    just my 2 cents

  13. Great post indeed, John.

    Can somebody help me with this…I’m 65 but I feel like 45, maybe 46. But I am clueless about this issue: Why are so many people
    willing to share the intimate details of
    their lives with the whole world?

    I mean…why is facebook so successful? What do you gain by giving up your privacy?

    I don’t know you. I don’t want to “share” my sandwich with you; I sure don’t want to share the details of my life with you until and unless I know you, like you and trust you. I’m sure there’s plenty I’m missing “out there”. If you’re into social networking with people you don’t know…please help me understand what you gain by voluntarily giving up your privacy.

    Thanks in advance for your insights.

    • I love Facebook, Ed. But I don’t share anything personal.

      The main rule: They can ask, but you don’t have to answer.

      This applies to every single question or request for personal info. Just use your head, and know that they’ll push and try to get as much as they can. That’s their job. Your job is to resist intelligently.

  14. I agree with you JC it only takes a few assholes to mess it up for everybody. A person really cant assume that this is merely a photo,what’s the big deal? Someone taking a photo and posting it without consent, is really mean, really doesn’t give a crap, plus he or she knows they will get away with it.

    One other thing that is possible if they are under 27,their frontal lobe is not developed yet, They really believe that bad things won’t happen to them.

    It is such an impulse to take the photo to begin with, and of course they can get more bang for the buck if it’s on you tube. For this reason alone I try not to have photo’s of me that involve a neck, it makes it harder to photoshop something on to it.

    But seriously there should be a consequence for the behavior but there isn’t.

  15. John, I think you’re 100% on target.

    One of the things that I don’t think ANY of us have really envisioned is the long-term exposure that’s created and how it will affect relationships in the future.

    There’s the potential that everything posted online (whether BY us or ABOUT us) will last forever.

    So, whether it’s a venomous hate-mail fired off to your ex-boss in a moment of anger…..or a picture your girlfriend snaps of you wearing a feather boa and little else (photo taken when relationship was good….about three weeks before she went psycho)…..

    …the stuff that gets posted online is going to be there for our kids to see. And future bosses. And future business partners.

    After reading your article, I’m sitting here pretty thankful that most of my youthful indiscretions were performed in an age when people didn’t walk around all day with miniature cameras that communicated everything to the world.

    And Mom taught me the good sense to not fire off angry emails in the heat of the moment. (Thanks Mom. I didn’t always listen, though.)

    This whole minefield was created the moment that everyone got miniature camera with an internet connection. (The device does so much, you can’t really call it a phone anymore.)

    Reading your article makes me wonder if this is why sci-fi movies always portray the “future” to look like a clinical place with no personality.

    Maybe it’s because everyone in that world are so scared of someone taking their picture doing something less-than-perfect that they can’t be themselves.

    Until I read your article, it hadn’t occurred to me how things really are kind of tilting in that direction.

    Great post.

  16. Hi, John

    OK, I will probably be on your s**t list forever for this, but I can’t resist…

    Come clean here. What actually set you off? Could it be that there are some no-too-tasteful pictures of you circulating in cyberspace somewhere?

    I do agree with you, though, and I have 2 hard and fast rules…no posting/emailing while intoxicated (better known as no PEWI)
    and no posting/emailing after 7:00 pm, becasue I get cranky when I am tired, and am definitely not a night person!

    • Naw, what set me off was so freaking innocent I had to apologize to the person I took aside and read the riot act to. But the post still needed to be written here.

      I’m a rebel, an oddball, and my reputation will withstand just about anything (I think) short of bestiality or murder. I’m not that worried about me.

      It’s the concept of it that set me off. I love photography, and I love having photos of good times (including more than a few “intimate” shots from back in the day). I was a hippie — we were naked whenever we could get away with it, and actually looked for ways to piss off society. And sometimes we had cameras.

      But we still knew there was such a thing as “crossing a line”, especially taking something that happened in a small group and sharing it with others…. when it was none of their biz.

      It’s an offshoot of gossip, I guess. Innocent gossip is just part of being human — we talk about each other. But evil gossip is meant to hurt, and it’s a bad thing. Sharing photos without permission that can harm a rep is evil, pure and simple.

      The anonymity of the Web is why The Pro Code is so critical. It doesn’t matter what OTHERS do. YOU, as a pro, take the honorable path, always.

  17. Bang on!

    So many people feel they have a right to F**K up someone else’s life.

    As a matter of fact, most people feel they have a right to do just about anything.

    But is it the right thing to do?

    Whatever happened to the balancing side of rights… responsibilities.

  18. Nice try John. But we both know no-one’s gonna take a blind bit of notice don’t we?

    I agree 100% with what you say but I fear more madness will ensue before we realise what we’ve created for ourselves.

    I love doing what I do, and technology should be embraced and welcomed,on balance. I think it does more good than harm in my opinion. But life was a helluva lot simpler before mobiles – smart or not so smart – and social media wasn’t it?

    Oh ignore me, maybe I’m just a silly old fart who should be locked in a cupboard…until some ‘dude’ opens it and takes a photo of me on his super dooper smart arse phone.

    Time for my medication maybe, Nurse!…

    • It doesn’t matter if “everyone” changes their behavior, Andrew. I’m just laying it down for the professionals out there: YOU don’t do it, even if everyone else does.

      Part of living life well is having a code of honor. That’s a quaint idea that’s easy to mock…

      … but everyone in my inner circle lives and dies by it. It’s real, and it will make your life better.

      Again — doesn’t matter what everyone else does.

      Doing the right thing will make you feel lonely and isolated more often than not. The pro just shrugs and does it anyway…

  19. As per usual, an excellent post John… it’s crossed my lips more than once to other entrepreneurs to be aware that they are leaving a legacy – a PERMANENT LEGACY – and if they wouldn’t want their grand children, children, mom or spouse reading it, they shouldn’t post it, period.

    As for the common decency, I know I try to surround myself with the people who I know have it, and let the others go find people of their own ‘mind’ to play with. Unfortunately though, in the highly populated world we live in, it’s impossible to always ‘watch your own back’.

    Something to be said for living in the woods with no one around… :-)

  20. Way to lay it out there in the open, Carlton! So many people are caught up in the trend of social media and the digital lifestyle, they forget (or maybe just don’t realize) about the long term ramifications of their (harmless?) actions caught on camera/video/audio/etc.

    What might be considered innocent/legal/acceptable today could very well be seen as a major faux paux tomorrow…then what?

    It would be nice to see more people address this issue.

  21. Unfortunately, most people either do not realize or do not care about the impact that posting online could have.

    Even I have posted some stupid things up on the internet (often with the full knowledge that it could come back to bite me on the ass later on). I still did it anyways.

    Have gone through a few ‘clean ups’ of my social media presence and need to go through another.

    Keep up the good posts.

    -Simon

  22. I just deleted a long post because I actually depressed myself in my agreement with this.

    Now I’m wondering instead, what can we do collectively to improve things? I, for one, am limiting my postings on fb to generic items and positive affirmation type statements.

    Any advice for focusing on what’s good about it?

    • I dunno… I like FB, and I have fun on it. I use the old Bar Rule: No politics, no religion, and don’t take anything personally — we’re all just trying to hang out and have a little fun here.

      Nerves are frayed and tempers on edge in the world today. Use your head, and know that not everyone thinks you’re cute or funny or smart. Let almost everything slide off your back like water off a duck, and do the best you can at all times.

      Most people have a good heart, but there are some evil sociopaths out there, too, and you can’t pretend otherwise.

      Be wise, be aware, be a solid friend and a hard-core but still ethical biz pro… and live with gusto.

      There still may be a bus out there with your name on it, but you can’t live scared. FB isn’t the problem — they’re just occasionally idiots about their privacy shit.

  23. Fitting words for modern times. I agree with you but I do have to disagree with readers who claim this is age specific. Technology has really empowered everyone, doofuses as well as the rest of us and the state of doofusness is not defined by years on the planet. Remember grade school in the 1950s when we used to imagine what life would be like in the year 2000? We thought we would be living like the Jetsons, although they didn’t come along until the 60s. None of us ever thought about the social side of all those cool toys or how badly they could be abused. Real jerks have always found a sounding board, regardless of the technology of the times. The only thing that has changed today is the size of the potential audience. But it’s not all bad. You live in Reno and I live in Sparks. But if it weren’t for the internet, I would never get to read your scintillating pearls of wisdom! Keep up the good words.

  24. I hate Zuckerberg. My rant.

    You’re dead on about the privacy issues. Especially when you consider people have been killed, and have committed suicide, over what’s been put on facebook.

    Apart from very few videos (and I mean VERY few – and professional-ish), you won’t see any pictures of me on the internet.

    I don’t get this thing about letting it all hang out in public like that. It seems like, all of a sudden, morality’s completely lost to the world.

    I agree with you 100% on this. And I don’t care if that goes viral.

  25. I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks after reading your post.

    In high school (or other places) many of us read the “1984” book by Orwell, you mentioned. If not, we certainly know of governments that have informants who cause trouble for any that don’t walk lock step along the party line.

    Even the thought of that is a nightmare to freedom lovers.

    With that in mind, imagine if life got set up in such a way that any citizen would be armed with a device that would allow for the immediate capture of something like a photo to be used against any among us who strays too far from “the norm” – whatever that is.

    Well, we have been armed with such a device now known as the cell phone with its comrade -the camera.

    It’s not my intent here to turn that device into a privacy-sucking evil beast, but it can and does easily become that when people aren’t mindful of their discernment and respect when using it.

    From where I sit, more than one wake up call is in order.

    • There is power in the smart phones that is only now being recognized — like video of the tsumani’s, the riots and revolutions, and captured moments of everyday life that might otherwise have never been shot.

      And instant communication ain’t necessarily a bad thing — like the tweets from Iran and China, as well as being able to call family sooner so they don’t worry.

      But the evil side is also playing out… it’ll take a while to sink in, and good fiction should help us realize it…

  26. Well, I’m sorry I missed the funeral for common sense.

    I’m also sorry that other people can’t express themselves without using the “F” word.

    • I read this post earlier, and agreed with you immediately on the first point re common sense.

      I have also just given some thought to your second point, and find I agree again Linda.

      There isn’t really any need for that language, and I must admit I am surprised.

      • Linda, Andrew… listen carefully:

        I am a First Amendment freak. My weapon of choice in the culture/biz/personal-freedom wars is language… and scribes like me fought HARD to be able to write without being censored.

        The word “fuck” has played a HUGE role in freedom of speech over the last 50 years or so. People have gone to prison for using it, careers have been destroyed, reputations ruined. We hit a tipping point around 15 years ago, thanks to brave writers and comics who refused to be censored… and now the best mags in the world (like The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and all intellectually-stimulating rags in the so-called Free World) won’t hesitate to use “fuck” when it’s the right word to use.

        I know this rankles some folks. Too bad. Writers like me, who have only wanted to write the truth as we see it, had to live rankled with language repression until the First Amendment finally caught some real traction in this country.

        Nobody is forcing you to read my blog.

        And I will not censor myself so a few squeamish folks feel more comfortable. Grow up. I write the way adults talk. You can live your life as the person everyone else is waiting to leave, so the rest of us can relax and swear… but you do not have a right to ask me to tone it down here.

        Just get straight on this, okay? It’s not about you. It’s about the freedom to use the language we use without hypocrisy.

  27. It’s a generational thing and you knows it’s real change when it seriously pisses off people over 30.

    Yes the world has karma, but it also works in cycles – and I for one welcome a speedy return to a time a guy and a girl can meet at a party but don’t feel obligated to jump into bed before the DJ plays the last record.

    A time when it’s considered bad manners to talk above a whisper in a public library, let alone public transport.

    The people for whom a speedy attacked of ‘revenge-karma’ is most deserved, however are those who, on finding themselves present at the instant an accident or tragedy has occurred, find their first instinct is to reach for their phone.

    What sort of society breeds people who delight in sharing the misfortunes of others above rushing to help the victims?

  28. Spot on John. I guess if you’re over the age of 20-something, you realize what’s happening here and may actually appreciate the long-term consequences of all this “transparency”.

    I recently had to “un-friend” a much-loved nephew of mine because I couldn’t subject my other friends and associates to his garbage mouth. I explained to him why I was doing this and tried to impress upon him that his “harmless” comments are recorded for posterity. Not only will potential employers have access to this written history, but even his grandchildren will learn about him from his comments. His naive response convinced me that they really do not get it.

  29. John: It’s just too obvious about the cell phone yahoos.
    All day, everywhere, people talk too loud in inappropriate places on inappropriate subjects. It’s an epidemic.

    Among other things, we need three Ds: discretion, discernment and discrimination about how, when and to whom we communicate in public, in semi-private situations(Internet, Email, etc., and in public ones(TV etc.)

    To go slightly afield, but still on point, who he hell needs pop music (I used the word advisedly) in elevators? You’re in the things for seconds generally.

    And many restaurants, I’d bet, lose a lot of older (over 3o!) customers with the stupid choice of raucous played at an ear-splitting decibel level. And all the clothing and department stores do the same as do swimming pools even in semi-private communities.

    And maybe among the worst, are those idiotic TV sports shows (often in the evening news too)that show a highlight, while talking over the video (which also has ambient sound) giving the scores and notes, while insistent, incessant, loud noise/music selected by demented 20 tear-olds who wouldn’t know a bar of real music from a bar on the street, clangs in the BG. They do this to “keep our attention” (they think our attention spans equal their-gnat-sized ones). What it does is insult the audience and pisses them off.

    It’s both the dumbing down of society and the sense of entitlement that people have about their “right” to do anything they damn well please even if it invades the personal space of others.

    Sorry about the rant but as you say, Jeez!

  30. Couldn’t agree more John. Thanks for saying it so “eloquently” – as only you can!

    As a digital photographer and Photoshop pro, I am ever mindful of the potential for abusing technology and always seek to err on the side of caution and good taste.

    I constantly stress to my kids that what goes out can never be brought back.
    I’ll print your article to show them (after I edit a bit with the black marker)

    I detest “Big Brother’s” intervention, but maybe every computer and hand-held photo device should come with a breathalyzer or double warning lock-out …”Are You Sure You Want To Send That?” “Really Sure?”
    But that wouldn’t stop the clueless.

    Reminds me of the kid’s admonishment in school, WWJD…What Would Jesus Do?

  31. I couldn’t agree more John especially at the phrase ”Dance like nobody’s watching.”

    I did an impromptu little funky dance when all cameras were off one evening at a friend’s house and a few months later, I was asked to do it again, by all the kids because they thought it was funny. I got up to oblige but this time there were like ten cameras pointing at me – it killed the whole thing. It’s a stupid little dance suppose to add a bit of comic relief, in private with friends and family, but not when it is going to be uploaded to Facebook by some spotty kid with no life within seconds.

    It also kills off the whole thing of story telling – what’s there to tell when everyone can see it online?

    Etiquette such as asking before you point a camera does not even come into the equation. This generation has a lot to learn about privacy and respect and these bloody attitudes are just killing off spontaneous fun or even just spontaneity.

    Now you walk around trying to be as boring as possible so no one will notice you. What a life. I am moving to Mongolia!

  32. Personally I don’t worry much about all this privacy stuff,maybe my life is just to boring, I try not to break the law, I am not Rich, I am not the least bit paranoid, come on world here I am now gossip, watch me, follow me…lol

  33. rofl!!!
    What scares me most is that I know at LEAST one real-life violator of every one of those rules, and they’re NOT moviestars (I’m a bartender, lol!)! Privacy? Listen, my first wake up call was when my husband told me to Google my 2 year old son’s name, and an entire PAGE came up, with all his pictures from Facebook! Now, I have NEVER attached more than his first name, and NEVER said “son…” YOU figure that one out! I’ve actually stopped the FB posting of pics. I should have learned when Facebook shut down “Seppukku,” you can’t even purge the photos from Google’s memory!

    As for Charlie Sheen, I think Andrew “Dice” Clay says it best… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR9iu94VzCI
    Everyone’s pill laden, drunken rants preserved for all of eternity by??? YOUTUBE! May be funny as hell to you right now, but when you need people to “not remember” it ever happening? EPIC FAIL! Stay Frosty, John!
    Chris

  34. Hi John,

    Two or three years ago there was this commercial with a young girl, 14, 15? leaving school when a friend commented on her post about shoes or something.

    As she went through the rest of her day progresively creepier strangers asked some very personal questions as if they had the right.

    The commercial ended by saying, “Be careful what you post on-line, you don’t know who’s watching you.”

    Guess nobody was paying attention.

    Mike

    • Nobody’s gonna “win” this war. The world is changing, and we need to develop PERSONAL rules to live by. TMZ wins the majority of the population over — privacy is SO last century with those yahoos.

      I’m writing to self-aware folks. Doesn’t matter what everyone else does. We think for ourselves.

  35. I think the obsession with photos is mostly from the younger crowd – 30’s and below.

    Today’s kids are getting like middle aged old farts, who have no life outside their digital one.

    However, the digital peer pressure is HUGE for them to conform.

    So if they don’t have 10,000 photos – minimum – on Facebook, they’re falling behind.

    So it’s all about exposure for these kids (I have a 19 yr old) who pathetically – without constant digital connections – have not a hellova lot else going on.

    They have no understanding that the loss of privacy is the loss of freedom.

    You can thank schools & colleges for weighing our kids down with all kinds of useless assignments, without teaching them civics or the concepts of our Democracy, Republic or freedom.

    Unfortunately, they are not learning the skills to create much value, except for their 15 minutes of fame on YouTube, and a lot of whining about everything.

    No wonder the economy is flat. As us folks born in the age of decency and hard work age out, the up-and comers are clueless conformists.

    • Naw, we can’t blame young people for any of this. It’s not a generational thing, it’s an OPPORTUNITY thing. The ability to snap a shot and upload it to the cloud is there for everyone, and everyone (more or less) is doing it.

      Just like most Americans freak out when they’re shown the Bill Of Rights without it being identified AS the Bill Of Rights (because the rights it gives us SHOCK people who’ve never paid attention before)… the idea of losing privacy isn’t an issue with most people… until it is. Then, they freak out.

      Humans are fun to watch. Dangerous to be around too much, but fun to watch…

  36. Well said. Learning and using good manners would solve a lot of those problems.

    Courtesy is thinking of how you would like to be treated – in the best possible way. Parents teach by word and deed but so do our peers. Choose to copy those using good manners.

    Seems a bit sad that there’s a need to define bad manners on line: not asking permission to photo, inflicting drunken ramblings on the sober, inflicting impulsive angry rants without much thought or reason, talking and texting in the wrong places.

  37. Dear John, i will write one of the precepts of Thich Nhat Hanh, it is a precept I have made my own…

    4. Aware of suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to the suffering of others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or bring suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that can inspire self confidence, joy and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain, and not to criticize or condemn things I am not sure of . I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I willmake every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, even small.

  38. Hey John:

    Great post.

    Seems that possessing a personal code of common decency has become a lot more important than it used to be.

    Because not too long ago it was actually very difficult to record and publish people in compromising positions. It required that you have access to things like photographic negatives and printing presses and money.

    It took time too. And along the way there were plenty of OTHER people ready to step in and stop the madness, (“Mr. Favre, do you really want to publish this photo?”).

    Today a single individual can instantly publish just about anything, to millions, in seconds — without the benefit of expense and group conscious to slow things down and force reconsideration.

    Cat’s outta the bag… and so far, it’s not lookin too good.

    But there’s hope. This is relatively new stuff.

    It may be like what happened in World War I… when new technology suddenly made possible throwing lots and lots of lead into the air.

    Problem was, soldiers and officers didn’t catch-on very quickly, and did things like charge waves of troops headlong toward an entrenched enemy (see “Gallipoli”).

    That worked fine when the other guys had to stop and reload their muskets.

    Not so fine when they had water cooled machine guns.

    So I’m not really sure how this will play out. It may get worse before it gets better. But there’s hope that somehow, someway people will develop a more powerful internal “WTF” pause button.

    –Curley

    • Great point, Jimbo. This privacy thing really IS our modern Gallipoli charge against machine guns.

      That’s worth a separate post, maybe, the historical paralells. Why don’t you write it?

  39. So where’s the link to the pictures, John? :)

    You and I can remember a time when you asked before you took a picture. Heck, it wasn’t all that long ago. We need to get back to that.

    The problem is that a picture is silent. There’s no context. An outside viewer has no idea about what was going on. From that aspect, they are bad. Add some context and they come alive and have meaning — but only to some people.

    If you were to look at the going away dinner my co-workers gave me when I left Germany, you’d see a table filled with half-empty beer glasses and perhaps draw the wrong conclusion. If you knew me (i.e. added some context), you’d know that I hardly ever touch the stuff, that the wait staff didn’t clear empty glasses very fast, and that Apfelschorle (half apple juice, half mineral water — which is what many were drinking that night) looks a lot like beer. Believing what you think you see in a picture is a bad idea.

    Insofar as the “you shouldn’t do it if you don’t want to get caught” argument goes: When I hear it, I just ask the person if I can install a camera in their bedroom… Some things are perfectly all right but you don’t want the pictures plastered all over the Internet.

    And those after-hours “sessions” are “intimate gatherings”. It’s a time to let down your guard with friends. And just like you don’t want intimacy with your spouse recorded for the world to see, people should leave the cameras at home when they head to the bar.

  40. Excellent article. The fact many feel the world needs to know all & make a buck while destroying others privacy is very disappointing.

    Strongly agree permission should be asked before taking photos or publishing posts.

    Especially at an after hrs party , confiscate all cell phones and throw out offenders

  41. I am ever hopeful that the pendulum will swing back the other way. When enough youngsters suffer the consequences of violating their own privacy, they might become more conscientious about violating the privacy of others.

    But then, sometimes I can be *such* a Pollyanna!

    (Great blog post, John. I couldn’t agree with your rules more.)

    Venus

  42. Here, here – (another) great post, John.

    Unfortunately, the items you mention seem to be part of a greater, society-wide problem:

    The idea that “everyone ELSE is doing it” is justification for everyone doing it.

    Used to be that reasoning ended with our mis-spent youth. Now it’s an all-too-common mantra in parenting, it seems.

    And the love of capturing and posting “compromising” photo’s and such is, I think, the result of more and more people feeling crappy about their own lives, and their own “self”…

    …and an attempt to look better “by comparison”, rather than actually DOING something to make themselves (and their lives) better.

    Anyhow, John … thanks for this one. And keep ‘em coming!

    – Al

  43. The contrast between social media sites’ popularity and the boundaries that people seem to cross gets blurred all too often, in inappropriate ways, as you’ve pointed out.

    But look at the public. When I look at the types of comments for example people make in online news articles, I realize there’s a lot of morons and immature people in the general public, in addition to a lot of negative whining in general. They’re not high minded, intelligent good people, it’s a bunch of cattle out there in the populace.

    So for us public figures it makes sense to be careful. Sometimes competitors will ask entrapping “leading” questions or do things like that after seminars/events to try and capture inappropriate/out of context photos or video clips. Personally I now have a ‘public’ vs private persona, and am very careful about exactly what I do, how I do things in public events compared to regular life.

    A necessary precaution in a paparazzi-type world without proper boundaries. I agree with your sentiment, so I am just really cautious, this last couple of years, to never do anything that could be seen in any but a positive way, when in public, especially when at industry events/expos and other places where recognition is there.

    -k

  44. Great and very much needed post, John.

    I’m particularly glad to see you stick up for the UCLA blonde who has been treated as though she started a campus Neo-Nazi chapter.

    I think the real issue with the viral hatred is malicious aggression without an outlet. In San Diego, recently, a cab driver accidentally swerved into a line of people. At the site of the accident, some people tried to pull him out of the cab and beat him. Easy way for people to feel justified with violence.

    On the internet, if you can help spread the word and slam someone who’s said something offensive, you get the illusion of metering out justice while venting your cruelty out to someone who will get no sympathy.

    The solution?

    I think we all would do well to not hit the “Like” button or leave comments for malicious Facebook posts or parody YouTube videos even if they are funny (they can be clever and downright hilarious).

    Yes, that means even if you did laugh out loud for 5 minutes straight, let it go and at least don’t contribute a vote that this is an acceptable thing to do.

    While you cannot swiftly end a cultural phenomenon by abstaining, you can significantly slow it down by not partaking in it, just like a vegetarian will pass on the pork plate at the dinner table.

    Nice to see a positive public service announcement on here.

    –Dan

  45. I so agree about the common sense, but it doesn’t just apply online, see if you can see what’s wrong with this picture…

    In the real world I have to sign 5 permission slips for pictures of my kids to be used in the daycare newsletter and after an outing my camera is checked to make sure that there are no photos of other peoples kids in it.

    At school there are no cameras allowed on swimming sports days and athletics days to protect the kids privacy yada yada.

    Meanwhile over on the internet my nanny has her pictures from the same outings splashed all over her fb page, right after pictures of her drunken binge the night before…..

    …. and both sides wonder why I get ‘cross’!

  46. A police officer told me once that if I wasn’t doing anything that I shouldn’t be, then there is no need for privacy. So, I removed the curtains from my house, and was promptly arrested for indecent exposure.

    Some things are not wrong, they just require situation specific social understanding. Remove them to an incorrect social situation and they can be quite damaging.

    In the old days it was easier to contain each individual social situation, that and people were more honorable.

  47. Great post. The dichotomy of today’s social-network-driven world is the use of texting, twitter, FBook, and others, coupled with the desire to expose one’s self and others in such media. And with camera phones (and the new technology just released) – watch out.

    Ahhhh, the young – they really know not what they do.

    -Ken

  48. We are like children playing with blasting caps some of the time when we use social media. Or drunk drivers. Clueless. A good old fashioned sense of awe and wonder at the power we have in our hands would keep us from the worst excesses. I worked with a guy who would occasionally get drunk and shoot out posts cutting down people in my field and I quit associating myself with him.

    We all need time to be outrageous and experimental and free to form new ideas, blow off steam, etc. If I am in that mode I don’t want someone recording me. The whole idea of that kind of exploring is to grow & change my mind, my way of thinking. The only way I am comfortable with recording in a free form brainstorming kind of situation is if i have total trust in the person doing it.

    I don’t drive when I am drunk and I don’t use power tools when I am loaded or sleep deprived. Any media that gives me instant global publishing is a power tool. Our thoughts create our reality. How we spread them makes a difference.

  49. This is an excellent post, and one that many young people still at university need to understand. I know if I wanted to I could look up anyone that I’m due to interview and pre-form an opinion about them based on their profiles.

    All this spotlight is highlighting that the PC brigade are winning, and if you speak out and call a spade a spade you’re thought of as a dinosaur.

    I use facebook to drive traffic and network with like minded people, but I’ve created a fake identidy as I don’t want the people I work with to know that I’m moonlighting and trying to find an alternative income to the greed of corporate life.

    Keep speaking your mind

    Andrew

  50. John I am with you 100% on this one and agree with Sharon A about it being required reading, but I’d push that age limit up to 69. Gen X & Y ers don’t have a monopoly on stupidity any more than boomers do on common sense, and there are a number of older idiots, who should no better.

    The Stalinist Russia George Orwell comparison is more frightening than many people think. Try pleading poverty to the tax guys when there are picture of you partying all over social media.

  51. Trust is paramount. Business can’t run without it – try doing business in a culture where deceitfulness is idolised and you’ll learn, like I have, that trust is social glue.

    So yeah, don’t be breaking trust anytime. Wise people don’t forget such privacy violations even if they say they do. Forgiving the offender doesn’t mean having to trust them when a similar situation comes up again.
    ‘Once bitten, twice shy’ is wisdom in such cases.

    We are a less trustworthy culture than we were and it’s not facebooks fault – it’s just one of the results a long time coming.

  52. The internet is bringing out the most unethical, immoral behaviour in those who think they can hid behind their user id’s and get revenge on those they dislike or are jealous of. But these people are hurting themselves because as you implied, Karma will bite them on their ass.

    I miss the ignorant days before camcorders, online sharing and text messages.

  53. John,

    1984 is right. Because this “anti-privacy revolution” is a one way street.

    Ordinary people are becoming more transparent as those with real power become harder to spot.

    I see you.

    -J.P.

  54. It always strikes me that there are so many otherwise sane souls that gladly, willingly and knowingly give away what millions have died to allow us to have …

    Freedom and her equally important sister – privacy.

    And they do so for the equally ridiculous objectives of speed, convenience and being “in style” or mainstream.

    Everyday, it seems as though someone – somewhere – asks or implies that it is time for me to give something else up.

    Not a chance … the first thing I do now is – think.

    Damn – that has become an awfully big 5-letter word in such a short friggin’ time. All of the people I know used to rely on that gray matter for something besides rounding out the top of their heads.

    I watch with complete amusement as hordes of people give up their lives, integrity and privacy when using Web 2.0 services and devices – all while trying to carve out perfect little lives and personas for interested parties on the social

    “annoyance” sites.

    Gotta love being able to make yourself look and sound perfect!

    Actually, I am still wondering about the woman I saw at Taco Bell during lunchtime today. I am thinking about what her digestive system must look like because she never once stopped talking into her phone – even while chomping down her

    tostadas.

    I wonder if she knows what she ordered or what it tasted like, since she was still talking on that phone when she walked out the door and back to her car.

    She never even put her purse down or took her jacket off.

    I also ponder if she knows how big a anti-social and pseudo-intellectual buffoon she looked like.

    Ah … 1984 indeed. Dial it up and it shall appear and be real – it will take precedence over all else.

    Merely think it and all will know your deepest and most intimate, hidden thoughts – in an instant and at will.

    Yeah, right.

    This is what happens when people become driven by illusion instead of reality. After all, If it looks good – it must be real. Right?

    Everyone else is doing it – it must be good!

    This is as clear a manifestation of the “herd syndrome” as I’ve ever seen – though on a much larger scale than anything before.

    Oh damn, I forgot!

    I don’t FB, tweet or anything else.

    I love it that way.

    and …

    I ain’t changing!

    I don’t own or want a smartphone. (Caution: oxymoron used!)

    And no … I don’t give a shit about the hundreds of millions of dollars in copy assignments I might be missing out on by being another mindless, heartless sheep.

    You see … I haven’t forgotten.

    I’m pretty damn good at this copywriting thing and – people that write checks to me for my work know it.

    Interesting thought – good work leads to more assignments people are willing to pay for in advance because the product is proven.

    Wow, I had better tell everyone else about this new concept.

    Oh Hell! They already know.

    I still use something called a land line to prospect and call clients to develop business. Most of my clients actually think it’s a good idea that I don’t make myself another social networking deviant.

    I also apply an old-fashioned process called salesmanship. Most of my established clients pay attention to my advice regarding their marketing efforts and I am often able to dictate my own assignments.

    Salesmanship works extremely well too, but most people don’t use it any longer. After all, instant messaging is more effective because it is – well – instant.

    Occasionally, when I want to step way-out – I send an email – when I am feeling anti-social.

    I also don’t care when people give me stunned looks or gasp when I tell them I don’t have a FB wall or a tweetie ID.

    After all, I didn’t commit any crime – right?

    At least – not yet.

    Although FB does send me emails daily about my new friends (huh?) and reactivating my 2-year-old dormant account.

    (Not gonna happen!)

    Somewhere along the line, people have forgotten that some things are meant to be outgrown and are for children or the mentally, emotionally or socially inept.

    I remember a time when people used to say …

    This is something I really need to tell him/her in person.

    Now, conveying an important message in the flesh or with a live call is obscene. It is way too much trouble.

    That might involve a real social interaction or something that actually requires emotion, thought and concentration.

    Hell, doing that might involve looking into another human being’s face …

    What a horrific thought!

    It is much easier and more efficient to send you a mindless, asinine 140-character tweet or direct you to a FB wall … and those messages would be in Pigeon English, Mongolian, or some other alien dialect, of course.

    l.e. (Non-2.0 literate example – accurate spelling assured):

    Want a divorce honey?

    Sure!

    OK, would 2:00 PM on Tuesday be good for you?

    Can do!

    See you there!

    Personally, I am pushing for the rebirth and widespread use of hieroglyphics.

    Now, there’s a great language! And fast too.

    Scribble a picture – get an entire word.

    What a deal!

    Jake

  55. Hey John,

    With you there, I often feel like a young but dam grizzly dinosaur when on occasions I venture to facebook.

    Yesterday had a family member with 3 kids posting how due to her di#$ head husband walking out on her that she hates her life and it has no meaning. Man I was shocked and felt like screaming.. God are you for real..pull your dam head out of your ass and get off facebook and be with your kids who need you! Oh and while your there stop posting crap on social media which breeds a the pissy poor me / victim attitude with all the “we love you deb, your okay and he’s the bad guy”.

    Well the morning coffee kicked in with that little hear palpation of a blurb.

    But yep I am certainly with you on that one, somethings need the old school professionalism mixed with the new.

    Rich

  56. hi John,
    it just occurred to me that there may be an aspect of Andy Warhols’ “15 minutes of fame” syndrome in this social media epidemic.
    Given that never before in history have we had access to such powerful media and global exposure. I think a lot of folks are letting it go to their heads.
    “Wow man I’m driving my brand new big sooper charged media machine”
    EVERYONE wants to be a celeb, which is OK. It’s just that the boundaries between wanting to be and actually being a celeb are so blurred.
    It’s similar to all the young dudes who think they’re Indy 500 drivers but don’t have the skills or experience.
    They don’t discover the truth until they wake up in hospital with the news that 3 of their buddies are dead.

    Maybe not the best metaphor but hopefully you get the idea.

    • Good point, Mike. I didn’t even think about Warhol’s revelation, but it fits here.

      Fame sucks, but everyone wants to discover that for themselves. Lives of quiet desperation scream out for recognition… and as we learn with pets and kids, most people will choose negative attention over no attention at all.

      Until it goes wrong…

  57. what a great read John. I normally don’t have time to read blog posts all the way through but I could not pull myself away from this one. I totally agree with what you are saying here.

  58. Okay, I can’t disagree with the idiocy of social media usage and it’s intrusion into our private affairs. But, I’m seeing something else at work herein. What I see is that in the same breath where you or some of those commenting (with all due respect) cite the “Golden Rule” (per Jesus) the use of the “F” word, the “S” word, the “A” word, etc, seems okay and acceptable. Might there be an eensy-weensie bit of hypocrisy in doing so since the Golden Rule should also extend to what comes out of our mouths in mixed company.

    I’m sure you agree that there are MANY people who take offended by the invasion of privacy based on moral and legal grounds AND who are also trying not to succumb to the foul and “oh-so-commonplace” gutter language of our day.

    So, what’s worse, that society is invading our privacy (admittedly BAD!) or that we’ve also abandoned common decency in almost ALL forms of communication in the attempt to define ourselves, privately and publicly. (You could say, “Whose business is it what language I use here on my blog–which I’m advertising to get followers–using the same social media that has no rules–but which I’m suggesting needs rules!?” Okay…haha)

    I’m no prude, but I want to believe that civility in public discourse still requires that we guard ourselves from using what was once gutter language, but which now seems acceptable or even praised (yeah, I noticed that post, too!) in daily conversation.

    Could it be that the erosion of privacy is just another place on the slippery slope of abandoning time-tested virtues?

    Just a thought–hope I didn’t offend any of you. By the way, John, I appreciate how you respond to so many comments. I know some professional marketing guys who would NEVER do that. Good job, Mr. Carlton!

    PS I removed a cuss word from a post I made this past weekend…so I’m not lily white in my own diatribe. I’m trying to follow my own advice by keeping all my communications Classy and appealing to a wider audience.

    • Hi Curtis. Thanks for the post. I believe you’re not a prude… and I’m all for saying “please” and “thank you” and not swearing in mixed company.

      This blog ain’t mixed company, however. It’s a adult blog, for professionals. I slave over the posts, try to deliver solid quality… for FREE, mind you… and will swear like a sailor whenever I please. Fuckin’ A.

  59. Taking a photograph of someone without their permission is a form of assault on that person. Publishing that photograph without permission is (or should be) illegal.

    What is generally lacking in this society today is integrity, empathy and decency. All othe these three are inextricably intertwined with the Golden Rule. What is the Golden Rule? Commonly it is interpreted as ‘Do unto other as you would have them do to you’ and that’s a good rule to live by. The Bible, from which the Golden Rule comes, in my modern translation, says it is the second commandment by Jesus and it reads, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” How can you be loving your neighbor if you are doing these things John has spoken of?

    And if you are doing these things to your neighbor, what is he plotting against you? In the end though Johns comments on being able to walk away fron this garbage and that the idiot has to live with himself are very true.

  60. Wow!! Could you share how you really feel? I gotta say..I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of “irrational exuberance” from whatever stimuli, resulting in the granting of some sort of “license” to speak about, post or record any compromising talk or situation… especially if it occurs “off the record” if you will. The sad part is that the moral decay of this generation and the decay of just plain common decency serves as a sort of twisted justification! Notoriety at any cost!! If it feels good…
    do it! Instant gratification..and so on… BTW..Trust? There is no such thing any more!

  61. I Think Yes. There Is No Such Thing As An Ideal World, You Could Have One Personally, Behind Your Front Door And That’s It. Wishing Thinking Is One Thing, But Demanding That Everyone Abides By Your “Sainthood” Or Otherwise Be “Damned”, I Think Not.

  62. “The Pro Code is so critical. It doesn’t matter what OTHERS do. YOU, as a pro, take the honorable path, always.”

    So true, maybe there should be a secret handshake or decoder ring to identify a pro you can trust not to be a paparazzi ;-)

    Mark

  63. Hi John, Great post! Reminds me of email’s early days when the company owner dabbled w the medium to hassle & confound by throwing new marketing projects into the mix without the staff or time to achieve them. I, VP Marketing, frustrated, rose to the bait, typed an angry response, intending to delete it, but forgot, & without thinking, hit SEND, & froze! Oh, G-d, please, bring it back! The owner’s office was immediately above mine, and I knew what was to come. Only moments later I heard his boots clunk down the steps louder than ever before! (I deleted future nasty emails of his… or typed civil responses in WORD, then attached them to my emails.)Years afterward, we laughed about it. Great prep for Facebook…

  64. Tour de force as usual John, though I must ever so politely disagree with the finale – Zuck’s not gonna miss his privacy because he can BUY it – he’s a freaking Gazillionaire fergodsakes! Now as for the rest of you poor schmucks..

  65. When did the golden rule change to “do unto others before they do unto you” rather than “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?
    Great post even though I could have done without the vulgar language.

  66. Love the article, articulating what most of us think and wonder and reinforcing the personal code of honour is essential for successful living in such a ‘transparent’ age. Actually, I don’t believe for 1 second we live in a transparent age, we live in an age of voyeurism…voyeurism is the same condition that distances you from the effects of what is happening and I think this is exactly what we are seeing with social media, right down to not ‘registering’ the impact of the long-term legacy.

    What I do find interesting is that default position that it is the younger generation creating it…the so called younger generation – whatever age you pitch it at – are certainly not mindful of the legacy they are leaving and the damage they create, but the rapidly expanding audience? is those in their late 30’s and early 40’s, who when they get their head around the technology are the fast uptake group on the planet. So who really is at fault here? As in every generational change, we cannot expect those younger than us to behave a certain way if we are not providing the example. We have literally let the kids loose in a candy store, and now that they are high on their sugar kick, trying to lock the beast back into its paddock. Its too late. Lead and teach by example and if there are drastic onsequences of living your life in the social media arena? In my book not a bad part of the wake up call needed.

  67. Hi JC,

    So much going on with this….

    It seems to be the same story of our species evolution with ANY great change!
    The technology outstrips our ability (apparently) to deal with the fall out ethically, morally ,emotionally – after we realise we have indeed opened Pandora’s Box!!

    I love a lot of the new technology and opportunities to connect,as I am an IMer- but unhappily, a lot of those so called ‘baser impulses’ ARE being instantly gratified – with no ‘reflection’ time!

    Remember, we have a higher cortex plonked on top of a (sadly) still functioning and totally incompatible ‘Lizard brain’-the brain stem.
    And God Dammit, why ARE people still worried more about a WORD here than the intent of the post itself!?
    That may be a clue as to how we got to this point..Sigh.

    I will just quote my Grandpa, who always looked at me(usually when I had done something inappropriate or indiscreet without thought)and would quietly ask
    “Is it kind? Is it Necessary..Is it True?”

    Words to live by, in a world that feels itself disintegrating, as it consumes the filtered negative ‘pap’ fed to them by the tabloids and other popular press- so they can then feel justified to say “What?! Why Not? Everyone else is doing it!!!??”

    Phew..My own rant. Bring Em On John..
    Fuckin A.

    Lets start one on the idea of ‘Gene Pool Cleansing’..ha!
    ;-)

  68. The only “assholes” concerned with watching you are corrupt governments and big-brother! Most people are far too busy trying to get noticed by others than really see you. The World is info-overloaded and attention obsessed.

  69. You really hit the nail on the head with this one John!

    Sometimes it feels as if “anti-social media” would be a much more fitting term…

  70. John you’ve punctured the swollen, pulsating vein of emotion of your readers on this one. It’s splattered all over this page and continues to gush.
    Ranting, raving… what has the world come to?

    Beatuiful copy. It even got a lurker like me to step up.

    Thank you for teaching us the true essence of viral. Look at this page. It’s a viral explosion. Awesome!

    Bruce

  71. My old man,a Motor City gang leader in his youth,gave me only one piece of fatherly advise. “Son, whatever you do don’t get caught.”(The ultimate privacy violation)
    Knowing I’d have to face his wrath I carefully weighed the consequences of my actions whenever the time came to cross the line. I never got caught because I never crossed the line. It went wrong for some friends who did cross the line and died or went to jail.

    The impetuous 80% for whatever reason,
    don’t think three steps ahead. That is an advantage enjoyed by the rest of us.
    Top 20% by default.

  72. With each new “incident” of this type, it becomes a little less shocking, the stupidity and thoughtlessness of some people who got photographed/recorded in situations they later regret.

    And they’re not all very young or newbies either.

    Good advice, “no posting while severely altered”.

  73. What … no more impersenations of S.D? haha

    great post Carlton – All comes down to a little bit of common curtesy … although … curtesy ain’t all that common.

    We (humans) are still trying too get our other foot out the jungle.

    This post also reminds me of a story of an early seminar, where Halbert forgot he still had his mic’ on in the bathroom.

    Cheers Carlton!

  74. An old proverb:

    Before we speak (or post) we should ask ourselves:

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

    Does it improve upon the silence?

  75. Amen, Brother.

    Keep the rant going… even though the rant seems like a whisper blowing right into the face of an approaching tornado.

    The Internet and all its ancillary media form the biggest megaphone this world’s ever heard… and some people have never gotten it, nor will… at least until they get thrown into the hoosegow.

    Anyway, Amen, John. Keep it up and mebbe enuff of us will join in.

  76. John, first off all, you should have called this post Eric Clapton’s Laundry Day.

    Recently watched a video of E.C washing his laundry in L.A in some public laundry place. It was funny to see him in there, courtesy of TMZ but painful the invasion of privacy.

    Our culture of celebrity, and being famous because you are famous, is down-right scary.

    We’ve taken rich and famous and turned them into idols–which was no different since the beginning of time but now with the NEt, it’s far more prevalent.

    Work for a good name. Love God and others.

    The rest will take care of itself.

    As my Granddad said, “I didn’t come to stay. I came to make a difference.”

    Keep your chin up.

    LC

  77. Yeah. I got a different take.

    There’s an upside to this loss of privacy. It used to be we could hide our indecency behind our facade of reputation. You know, like the priest with alter boy.

    It was easy for us delude ourselves about how proper we all seem. But now we’re getting down to the truth of it. Now we see just what dirty rotten scoundrels we really are. Now we get to see where our integrity is really at.

    I’m talking about humanity here. Not the individual. What’s happening with social media and the loss of privacy is giving us a very clear picture of reality. And it’s worth knowing what’s real. We have no hope of ever creating a better world for ourselves if we are deluded about who we really are.

    Like going on a journey. You have to know where you are before you can have a snow flakes chance in hell of getting where you want to go.

    I think what’s required is to drop the bullshit story that you’re somehow perfect and better than everyone else and start to look at the reality of who you really are. Quit judging and assessing others and really clean up yo own back yard. Because (and this ones not gunna feel to nice) if you can see it out there, guaranteed you got it going on at some level yourself.

    Is that the kind of different take you were looking for John?

    • Hi Scott. This idea has been hashed out since the Greeks, philosophically. You can always find a reason to doubt man’s commitment to civilization, always find corruption in leaders, always find glaring flaws in the people you hang out with. The mistake is to think that any kind of perfection can ever be reached. Anarchy has been tried, often for centuries (see medieval Europe). Doesn’t work when more than 2 people are involved. The Hitchcock film “The Boat” explores the idea of who lives and who dies in a lifeboat with no resources, enemies on board, wounded and dying, etc. And who decides. And whether a code can be followed when decisions are tough or not.

      I agree that dropping the bullshit is an essential part of living well. However, I don’t consider a professional code of honor to be “bullshit”. I consider it essential.

      We’re all in this together. We fundamentally disagree on stuff. No solution is gonna be perfect. We just gotta do the best we can… but the emphasis is on “the BEST we can”.

      Thanks for the note.

  78. This is not to rain on your parade.
    My first thought was that I agree completely, but why even mention it at all. It should be so obvious.
    Then it became clear. We as a society have lost our concept of what’s proper and decent.
    Thanks, John.

  79. Agree totally. It is sad how one vocal, pissed off (and all too often WRONG!),internet savvy customer can destroy a business. Or how one person’s reputation can be sullied with the snap of a photo. As an old fart parent of a 14 year old it is a constant struggle to remind her that what shows up on facebook or youtube is there forever. Hell, she won’t even call a friend to ask a question, preferring texting! Says “nobody calls”……jeez. Zuckerberg and some well respected “youtubers” are about the only people who can restore some sanity to these issues of privacy and decency among this generation because they sure don’t think we know anything! P.S. – is your rant the result of something personal? You can tell us….

  80. A very meaningful and timely post, John.

    I am thankful that in this day-and-age someone (a self-proclaimed rebel) is espousing the need to adhere to an “honor code”.

    If you asked the average doof on the street to define that phrase, you would receive a blank stare.

    One’s ability to define that “honor code” phrase does not depend on how much money they make, how many years they wasted in school nor their social position.

    The person who can explain what that phrase means (and do so without hesitation) is someone who had the good fortune to be raised (or mentored) by someone who took charge of their moral compass early on.

    They were taught the fundamental concept of right and wrong and that concept is just as black and white today as it was when I was born 56 years ago.

    Unfortunately, today, it seems “right” and “wrong” is a concept most of the people of the world no longer believe in and that makes living by an honor, for them, nearly impossible.

    My dad (who dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to join the Marines to fight in WWII) used that “honor code” phrase quite frequently.

    It was at the heart of the Marine motto, “Semper Fidelis” (always faithful).

    Two words. It’s so simple. You must be faithful to your fellow Marines, your family, your country, your world and most importantly, to yourself – always.

    I can only thank God that for the short 50 years he was on planet Earth he took the time to show me (not teach me or explain to me) what “honor code” truly meant by his daily actions.

    I am fortunate in that his example did not go unnoticed. I did listen, I did internalize, I got it.

    It became part of me and I abide by it to this day.

    I cling to it as the most valuable asset he passed on to me and that I now own to pass on to others.

    Actually, I don’t own it, it owns me.

    I believe the only way some semblance of a belief in an honor code will return is by setting the example in everything we do.

    It’s not hard. It’s even fun.

    It’s especially gratifying when you see someone who witnesses your example who actually “gets it”.

    Then, you hope and pray they set the example for someone else as a result.

    Even if it only gets absorbed and passed on in 1 out of 100 cases, that is still one time more than it would have been passed on had you not operated with an honor code.

    You’ll never know who benefited by that one example that was passed on.

    My dad used to say, “If you set the example, you don’t have to set the rules.”

    He got it. I got it.

    Thank you, again, for a great post.

  81. Somehow I don’t really believe in the power of words. I only believe in the state that I am in when I am writing the actual copy. I think somehow or an other it comes through how much you believe what you write and that makes all the difference. But I also think, that when you belive in your product, you will pick the right words and it will be powerful. The energy goes through, not really the words that matter. What do you think about it John?

  82. In days of old when I was leading the alcohol fueled charge into the depths of depravity, there was one saving grace. I could easily forget the dumb shit things I had done. Fortunately most of those around me suffered the same malady.

    Modern technology, in the hands of the disrespectful, has removed or at least substantially reduced our ability to forget! What will the long term effects be?

    I am thankful everyday that I don’t remember my every screw up and that the only phone present was attached to the wall and incapable of preserving history.

    One can only hope that Karma really is a bitch and that their own screw ups will be recorded for posterity and shoved in the faces of those who sought to better themselves by degrading others!

    Even though I have had the priveledge of seeing you in “relaxed mode” your secrets entrusted to me are safe. I truly don’t remember!

  83. I agree that cameras at “private” parties/ are a complete pain in the butt.
    I think the world is changing so fast its hard for us to adapt to these “new” rules but for those who are teenagers now its just normal and they seem unphased by it

  84. Just checking in a little belatedly here…

    Thanks for sparking an interesting discussion to read John. What stands out most – to me – here is that the way we all communicate/broadcast online is still in relative infancy…

    Society has developed over hundreds of years to get how it is today… and of course it’s still different – and thankfully, interestingly so – in different places. As ‘the web’ is kinda one big place, it’ll keep changing and developing its own ‘rules of society’ over a hell of a long time too.

    Class will always remain classy and will always stand out to those who recognise it. That at least is reassuring.

    PS thanks for throwing a ‘wanker’ into the post. You made this Englishman’s day!

  85. Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men. ~ Ayn Rand

  86. Do you think the tide will ever turn when people realize that we’re all stupid so it simply doesn’t matter? And what I mean is… it seems silly that all these photo leaks and tweets and whatever are ruining careers. I have a magazine on my desk by people magazine called “Scandals! That Rocked America”.

    You don’t have to get too far into it to realize… wow, EVERYBODY does these things. Where my mind naturally goes is… okay, so everyone likes to have fun and explore taboos… why don’t we just throw out the ‘taboo’ of it? Why do we hang onto to the images of how things ‘ought’ to be when they so are so clearly proven, time and time again, to not be that way?

    I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here because the world still refers to drunken lewd behavior as scandalous. Wake up, world. That’s the STATUS QUO! Why is it scandalous? Why do we feel we ought to be something we’re not?

    Am I quite daffy here?

    • I hear that …and the problem being, Broc, that we must maintain some semblance of civility in an already too insane world. Anything goes is just too insane at this spiritual level of beingness among humans overall. Unfortunately, Some people use privileged information to hurt, limit, deny or punish the trusting in their most vulnerable moments when they should have been safe among friends. We should always be safe among friends but as of yet that kind of respect is still not something we can count on! And you are so right…we should be able to feel that safe! That would mean no one would judge anyone else, right? Wouldn’t that be miraculous? Maybe some day. I respect your point of view.
      Alex

  87. Well, As the CIA & FBI and all those other agencies have gleefully stated… (not a verbatim quote) Zuckerberg has made life so much easier…if only to capture every detail about everyone’s private and personal life! Oh the data mining!

    If you have ever valued your privacy, this would indeed be a great time to do unto others as you would have them do unto you and be at least slightly less forth coming with your own personal “stuff” while you are at it. It is true that familiarity breeds contempt!

    Great rant, John! We needed a swift boot in the behind from a bonafide pro like you! Thank you!

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