The Internet Is Like Herpes…

… because that stuff will stay with you forever. There isn’t a lotion or shot that will get rid of that.

In this day of social media, we need to be as cautious of what we put online as we are of sexual partners. We need to protect ourselves the same way, and if we have to think twice before putting something on the internet, chances are it is a bad idea. Much like taking a second look at the girl at the end of the bar and convincing yourself that maybe some girls DO have a defined Adam’s apple.

I have committed this heinous crime myself in my younger years (the posting online crime, not bedding a woman with five o’clock shadow… not that there is anything wrong with that) and as much as I wish it would go away, it is there if you look hard enough. I was an amateur photographer and having no other models, used myself. In what I thought was a clever nude shot. Then in my infinite wisdom displayed it on a prominent art site. The internet took a week to recover.

However, that is small potatoes compared to what people put online now. Facebook is obviously our go to for reckless personality endangerment – some of the things I have read on there defy comprehension. If you are wondering why you didn’t get that job you seem perfect for, take a look at your posts: a cracking interview and conversation about the school your kids share are nothing when your would-be boss sees your post exclaiming you are so mad you are going to kill your dog. Joke or not, this stuff needs context, and potential employers aren’t looking for context: they just want to hire the candidate that doesn’t have sociopathic tendencies.

A good example is something my wife shared with me today when I started writing this article: a friend of a friend (always the way) posted a cease and desist letter they received from the council regarding a huge party they had for a prominent Australian holiday. This letter covered the public nudity, loud noise, violence, disregard for safety and a myriad of other crimes on nature concerned neighbours had reported. Not to mention releasing fire balloons during a total fire ban season.

When she was telling me this, in my mind I was already drawing a picture of the kid – young, fluoro singlet, shorts and sunglasses, bottle of booze in one hand and cigarette in the other while taking a leak off a balcony (a clear stereotype, but one I stand by). I nearly fell off my chair when she said this person was in their mid-thirties and part of middle management in a huge mining conglomerate.

How desperate is a person for the applause of their peers that they would post this online, on what is essentially a public site, and available to colleagues and family? Now the comments were all ‘you go big guy’ and ‘damn the man, save the Empire’ (or something to that affect, she said positive and I went 90’s teen drama) however I can only assume this was from people at the party and family members with no sense of decency. The moment his work peers and senior management get hold of this, it is bye-bye promotions and caviar and hello complete indifference. Because indifference is what you get when people decide you are too stupid to be taken seriously as a human being, let alone colleague.

People are so desperate for that just-out-of-reach 15 minutes of fame they fail to recognise the ongoing consequences. Corey Worthington (Australia’s party boy) is a perfect example: he shot to infamy by throwing a huge party, effectively destroying his parent’s home and half the neighbourhood, and refused to take any responsibility. He was hailed a hero by his peers and ended up with some small sponsorships and, in a turn that makes me weep for humanity, job offers for party planning. Within 18 months he was beaten up by what I assume were other likely candidates for a Darwin Award, had his endorsements removed and all promises of acting dwindle away. He struggles to get anyone to take him seriously and even had his ‘manager’ tell a news publication that Corey was willing to do bricklaying, carpentry, anything… and if the manager had a job he would help out, but he doesn’t have anything at the moment. He is quoted saying ‘he is not a pest by any standards. He is a quiet, shy, retiring sort and if I had a job for him I would employ him.’

This is coming from one of Australia’s bigger celebrity managers. Who has plenty of money and could probably use someone to build that pergola by the pool with the built in coke shelf. But not that kid… shy and retiring as he could be perceived now, history claims otherwise. And a simple Google search has made it close to impossible for this kid to ever escape the banner of Australia’s Party Boy.

Sure, he was just being a kid (if Dennis the Menace and Chucky had a love child) and probably deserves a second chance. And 30 years ago, he could have just said ‘different guy’ and no one would be any the wiser. But in this information-super-highway age where your details are just a Google search on a phone away, your resume will be ripped up before you had a chance to return your visitors pass to Dina at the front desk.

My advice is keep the crazy reserved for your friends and family in private, and do what I do: only publish online what you would have no problem discussing with a potential employer or father that has a disturbing relationship with shotguns. Remove violent or disgusting posts from your social media or blogs and hope your would be employer or father-to-be is not computer savvy and doesn’t have a 10 year old. Or you too could have some nude self-portrait floating around the cyber netherworld, tasteful as you may think, before you lost a heap of weight and don’t look like a bloated terrifying circus clown.

Cause that part always bums me out.


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