Nadworny: Private Or Public?

Print More

(HOST)  Commentator Rich Nadworny has been trying hard to not pay too much
attention to the Anthony Weiner debacle – and he’s not succeeding.

(NADWORNY)  I can imagine you’re thinking, "Please do we have to listen
to yet another discussion about New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s pathetic
melt down with sex and social media?" So, relax, I’m not going to talk about
the scandal per se. But it does raise a very interesting point about how social
media has completely scrambled the dividing line between the public and

Throughout time, some politicians have abused their
positions for monetary, influential and even sexual favors. At least the men
have, anyway. There’s research that shows how power can warp male judgment
leading to even texting lewd photos of yourself to young women you don’t know.

What strikes me as different today is that most of that
behavior in the past remained behind closed doors. Before, you might have had letters
that fell into the wrong hands and could be used to blackmail or expose
politicians. But most of the time, we never heard about the types of things
that got Representatives Weiner and Chris Lee into trouble.

Thanks to mobile phones, Twitter, Facebook and Craigslist,
we’re able to see all of that bad, bad behavior fairly quickly. And therein
lies the fault line of today’s media. All of that content in those channels is
more or less public. Or perhaps it might be better to say that no one should
assume a level of – or even a right to – privacy with messages shared through
those media.

Most people assume that only a few select people will see
their content. It’s happened again and again with people sending inappropriate
pictures to each other on phones, or posting things on Facebook. We’ve seen how
this can lead to extreme bullying and ostracizing or result in people not
getting jobs when potential employers see applicants behaving badly.

Futurist Stowe Boyd has written extensively on this
phenomenon. He calls our era the Decade of Publicy – as in – if you superimpose
the word "public" over "privacy" and partially obscure it, you get a new word – "Publicy".

His notion flies in the face of all of those who still
believe that online relationships aren’t as ‘real’ as offline.

Well, for Anthony Weiner, they got real in a hurry. One of
the challenges people face is that when we engage in online behavior, we’re usually
alone. And if there are no other people around watching us text, tweet or
update, it feels very private.

But once we’ve hit that send button, it’s public and
sometimes it’s forever, thanks to Google. There is a major disconnect between
the act of doing and the result of doing. There are very few areas of life
where that gap is this large.

Until we realize the size of that gap and start acting more
carefully with our new publicy, we risk more pain, embarrassment and shame. Maybe
someone should design a new public service campaign called "Think before you

Comments are closed.