Thom Friedman is one of my favorite columnists. In the column that appeared in The Santa Rosa Press Democrat (A NY Times newspaper), he writes about the transparency brought on by the blogosphere.
Reputations retained forever on the Web
This related to the idea of "radical transparency" that I wrote about in a previous post. I was thinking about this today.
THREE years ago, I was catching a plane at Boston's Logan airport and went to buy some magazines for the flight. As I approached the cash register, a woman coming from another direction got there just behind me - I thought. But when I put my money down to pay, the woman said in a very loud voice: "Excuse me, I was here first!" And then she fixed me with a piercing stare that said: "I know who you are." I said I was very sorry, but I was clearly there first.
If that happened today, I would have had a very different reaction. I would have said: "Miss, I'm so sorry. I am entirely in the wrong. Please, go ahead. And can I buy your magazines for you? May I buy your lunch? Can I shine your shoes?"
Why? Because I'd be thinking there is some chance this woman has a blog or a camera in her cell phone and could, if she so chose, tell the whole world about our encounter - entirely from her perspective - and my utterly rude, boorish, arrogant behavior. Yikes!
When everyone has a blog, a MySpace page or Facebook entry, everyone is a publisher. When everyone has a cell phone with a camera in it, everyone is a paparazzo. When everyone can upload video on YouTube, everyone is a filmmaker. When everyone is a publisher, paparazzo or filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. We're all public figures now. The blogosphere has made the global discussion so much richer - and each of us so much more transparent.
In a YouTube world, political candidates can no longer control their message if they slip in an unguarded moment.
In the world of the blogosphere, companies can no longer count on a press release alone to reach their audience.
In the age of Digg and Yelp, Everyman becomes the taste maker, the reviewer, the critic rather than the traditional media.
It seems to me the solution is to identify one's core (most authentic) values, then work everyday to manifest those values. Only through consistent and diligent effort, can we build and protect our reputation.
I am reminded of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said:
"What you are thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary."