Saturday, September 14, 2013
Like it or not, we all have online reputations; and do you really have to "take care of your own" first?
So, to have a job and have reasonable life, you will live part of the time on Facebook and Twitter whether you like it or not. Alexandra Petri weighs in on this point in the Washington Post Saturday morning on p. A13, "Real you vs. online you? What is the difference?", link.
I don’t run into anything malicious online with social media sites. I guess I hang around with “reputable” people and parties. You know who you are! But I got flamed really “good” a couple times in the old Web 1.0 world, especially in 2000 for a movie review about “The Perfect Storm” that I wrote on AOL’s “Moviegrill”. Some people seem to think that restating an artist’s view for discussion is the same as endorsing it. I also got conked for a review of “Brick” because I didn’t know my street drugs well enough. (Does it really matter whether the “brick” was heroin or cocaine? They’re both “bad for you” – I say that knowing full well the libertarian position on what you put into your own bod.)
Seriously, in the Web 1.0 world, there was a danger that public postings of opinions by people in management or positions of authority could lead to the impression of prejudice, or possibly a “hostile work environment”. When I was substitute teaching, there was (underneath other stuff) a concern that wisecracks in my movie reviews about certain attributes of various actors (as displayed) could show prejudice; there was also some concern about a 2005 online essay on “doaskdotell.com” titled “Mathematics, Merit, and FICO: Are Some People “Better” than Other People?”. Search for it – it shows up in first place by that title. Well, this is an intellectual notion, mathematically inescapable. Still, my mother would always have said, “Don’t say that”. It does seem that the way we form our own individual judgments about others is turning into the penultimate modern moral question.
In the Web 2.0 world, it’s true that there is the possibility of limiting likely reception by “whitelisting”, but nasty stuff about individual people gets out very quickly anyway. We’ve seen plenty of examples of that on Dr. Phil. So kids now grow up thinking they have to be popular online, thinking about Likeonomics as a Wall Street number cruncher, counting “friends” and “likes”. That’s too bad. Teenagers need to succeed in the physical world first, be it school, sports, art, music, drama, hobbies, debate, scouting, any or all of these things. I don’t push any particular religion, but teens who go to a church of religious observance of some kind with their families regularly tend to do better at these things and get a head start. And then, there is, as the president says, “service”. That’s a good one. One thing that amazes me is to see film reports of high schoolers (old enough, say, at least 16) who go to a third world country for a summer stint and actually learn to interact with the people. You don’t need to learn to “take care of your own” first to do that, contrary to conventional wisdom. But you do need to be mindful of what you have already done online.