Living In Public

This is a response to Chrissie Brodigan‘s post, “DonÒ€ℒt Feed the Trolls: Dealing With Social Media Sins”.

Not that I give a damn about disclosure, but I’ll mention that Chrissie is a friend of mine (as is probably everyone else she’s talking about in her post):

Interesting.

I posted about this back in June: [http://billcammack.com/2008/07/12/freedom-of-consequences/].

Basically, in order to “live online” as we do, one needs to remain mindful of the lowest common denominator. Whatever you’re “saying”, make sure that if your employer or your grandmother or your “significant other” or you CHILDREN see it, that it’s an accurate representation of yourself that you’re willing to OWN… because odds are that eventually you WILL have to own it, and probably in a fashion that you didn’t consider at the time.

Even “That was then and this is now” is only a partial defense. Look at the Presidential campaign that just went on. John McCain acted like A JERK for the whole time, and then when it was all over and he lost, he gave, IMO, a heartfelt, genuine, really respectable and admirable speech. Things like that can alter people’s perception about a person, but the facts and memories remain about their prior behavior, even if the ‘pain’ of them is muted by the person’s present actions.

So, ultimately, the WIN is Prevention and not Cure. Does that call for sacrifice of some (or many) things one would want to do or say? Yes. The question, however, is what do you really want in the end? Do you want to have social media friends, who don’t know everything you think and feel?… or would you rather be known for what you think and feel and let the chips fall?…..

Social Media is characterized by asynchronous relationships… basically, stalking, in a one-way fashion or a mutual fashion. I might get two comments on a post I make, and then everyone I run into IRL is like “I read your post, blah blah blah”. You can’t suspect that the people you hear from are the ONLY ONES that dislike what happened. Those are merely the ones who are willing to risk THEIR OWN social media reputations by wearing THEIR hearts on Twitter in the same way you constantly wear yours. It basically branches out and people take sides behind the scenes, which is what causes “floods”, because a lot of people get fed up at the same time… a lot of people that the person in question probably wasn’t even AWARE that they knew of or had any opinions at all about the situation, which they thought, for some odd reason, was contained to a small group.

On top of that, our NYC set is different from other groups, because we’re in so much physical, IRL contact with each other. I’m very used to going to parties where I know 60 people on the Facebook “definite” list. I have over 200 mutual friends with several people on Facebook, and a lot of those people live here in NY or NJ. Obviously, all of these people are not going to get along with each other. The only way to navigate this group is to remain neutral. I can care or not care about the situation, empathize or not, but ultimately, it’s none of my business, and I’m not going to tell or suggest to people what they should do, and I’m not going to choose one side over the other, between people that have historically been decent towards me and have developed some sort of beef between each other.

So, to apply my own theory… When I go to that party that at least 60 people that I know are going to show up to, I have to be mentally prepared to OWN anything I’ve said about them since the last time I saw them. I also have to OWN the videos I make and the blog posts I make and the currently 710 pictures of myself on Facebook, where I can’t turn around and say “no… I don’t know that person” or “no… I wasn’t at that party”. I have to own what I say and do AT the party. I have to own the media I output about that party and the cycle continues. So, basically, every stitch of media that you output, you need to check yourself on whether you’re willing to own it, ad infinitum.

As this pertains to your suggested rules for offenders:

You always “Acknowledge Action”, because it’s in “Black & White”, and YOU put it there yourself. It’s not like paparazzi ran up and quoted you and put it in the tabloids. If you post from a position of ownership, acknowledgement is obvious.

You can’t “Become a Victim”, because you’ve already owned the media. You already know WHY you said what you said or did what you did and you already thought about how you would defend it before you pressed “send”. “Defense” is merely informing people about what you were thinking when you posted it. The only real question is whether you unintentionally slighted someone in a way you didn’t anticipate when you posted, in which case, if you feel like apologizing for it, that’s completely appropriate. If they take offense at something you fully MEANT to say and currently stand behind at the point of the ensuing conversation, the issue becomes whether or not you were out of bounds with what you said and whether “the shoe fits” as far as what you said about them, which THEY would need to recognize, and get out of your face.

The Final Frontier is blocking people. That doesn’t keep them from finding out about YOU, but it keeps YOU from hearing what THEY have to say about you. If people aren’t going to be rational and have intelligent discussions with you (assuming YOU’RE acting rationally, to begin with), then the solution is to agree to disagree and hope to avoid those people as much as possible.

So, Yes… It’s EXTREMELY COMPLICATED to live in public, even the limited “public” of our echo chamber, but that’s exactly what it is… an Echo Chamber, which means that everything you say and everything everyone else says is going to keep coming back to you. Your best bet, as I’ve outlined, is OWNERSHIP from the giddyap, so you’re fully prepared to deal with the ricochets.

~Bill

Freedom of Consequences

Boo Hoo Hoo! πŸ˜€

Around February, 2008… approximately five (5) months ago, I decided to ask a member of the video message board, Seesmic if he REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to represent himself as he did in a video that he made.

What happened? People started crying. BOO HOO HOO! YOU’RE BEING MEAN! YOU’RE TELLING HIM WHAT TO DO! BOO HOO HOO! πŸ˜€

Fast forward 5 months to this week’s events… where a *different* person got penalized for video that HE posted to the internet. Did he post it ~ a year ago? Yes. Was he penalized for it this week? Yes.

So now, maybe people can stop CRYING and WAKE UP! πŸ˜€ It doesn’t matter if you’re having a so-called private conversation with a so-called friend of yours if it’s AVAILABLE FOR THE PUBLIC TO VIEW. People are going to look at the one video that you did and make their own decisions about your content and about YOU as a person. They’re going to decide whether they want to socialize with “a person like this”. They’re going to decide whether they want to HIRE “a person like this”. They’re going to decide whether they want to SPONSOR “a person like this”.

The point I was trying to get across, almost half a year ago, is that all of your content is standalone. You have to treat every video and every text post and every picture as if people are going to look at that ONE item and form judgements about you. You can’t rely on OTHER posts to pull you back into the frying pan out of the fire. You can’t rely on other people vouching for your character, ESPECIALLY when your video is viewed outside the realm in which your friends have juice. If nobody’s ever heard of your friends or they just don’t care what your friends opinions are, you’re short.

The reason people were CRYING is because they want the internet to be about freedom of speech. Unfortunately for them, they’re missing the other side of the coin…

Freedom of Consequences

Yes, you are free and clear to use whatever low-class terms you like when you make video, audio or text posts to the internet. What happens next is… PEOPLE SEE YOU AS LOW-CLASS. Good for you. You’ve achieved your goal. You expressed yourself, and people have a new image of you that you’ve created. Similarly, if you create a video that people see as offensive… PEOPLE SEE YOU AS AN OFFENSIVE PERSON. That’s the way it works. You express yourself, and then, as Otir pointed out, you have ZERO CONTROL over what other people receive and internalize based on what you posted. This is what’s simultaneously fantastic and unfortunate about communication, especially on the internet.

Does it matter that whatever video you’re getting penalized for is a year old? No. People that saw it for the first time TODAY… feel upset about it TODAY…. NOT last year. Unfortunately, the fact that posts, especially video and audio are STANDALONE items means that whatever the focal point is of people being upset can now be embedded ad infinitum all over the web. Guess what? Your context is GONE! The text you wrote on your original page with the video? GONE! The links you had on that page to supporting material? GONE! Your entire library of work up until and surpassing that time? GONE! Comments from posters and/or supporters? GONE! The only thing that’s left is the content that you uploaded and the thoughts of the person who’s newly embedded your video on their page so they can show THEIR FRIENDS that you’re “a person like this”.

I was having a conversation IRL just last night, in which I thought I was anonymous, and then the chick… um… woman says “I’ve read your blog“, hahaha and it was time to change gears. Not because I was being inauthentic beforehand, but because now, I was aware that I wasn’t working with a clean slate. πŸ˜€ We still had a great and interesting convo, but it had already been tinted by her impression of who I am or what I’m about from reading my blog.

That’s the way it works. You express. Other people receive and take away what they want from what you expressed, regardless of your intentions when you posted the text, audio or video. I touched on this in a joking way in “Do NOT Let This Happen To You! :/”. I was saying “some stuff” and then Annie broke out her xacti and it was time for The Kid to say “other stuff”! πŸ˜€


Permalink: http://pixelcurrents.tv/post/33454768
Again… Not because I was being inauthentic when the camera was off, but because what I was saying wasn’t for general consumption. It was a conversation I was having with my friends and totally wouldn’t have made sense outside of the context that they all had from being friends of mine and actually knowing me. I mean… It would have made sense, πŸ™‚ but I can’t express to randoms the same thing I can express to people that have background knowledge of who I am, what I do and why I do it with anywhere near the same effect.
 
Similarly… If you do a video that you put out on public channels that for some odd reason, you consider private… be prepared for people that you didn’t intend to watch that video to view it and make up their minds about “who you are” as a person. If you do a video that you think is funny to your friends and people that know you, and put it on public channels… be prepared for people that you didn’t intend to watch that video to view it and make up their minds about “who you are” as a person. Is there freedom of speech? Of course there is. There’s also OWNERSHIP. OF. CONSEQUENCES.

That was my whole point back on Seesmic.

I couldn’t care ANY LESS how people express themselves on the net.

I wanted people to realize is that they eventually might have to OWN the consequences of their actions/words/videos, and that’s what we all got a front row seat to this very week.

Welcome to the real world, Neo.