Sunday, February 08, 2009

Michael Phelps

There's been a great deal of commentary about the photo of Michael Phelps smoking pot, and while I think that 23 is a bit old for youthful indiscretion, I'm more interested in what I haven't read about... the photographer.

It's 2009, and nothing any of us do is private. We already know that everything we do online is tracked somewhere, and will only appear with our nomination at Secretary of State. Now, with the prevalence of phones that capture photos and videos, any of us at any moment can find ourselves in our least attractive moments entertaining the world on YouTube. Our permission is not needed, if, indeed, we could even identify the person who shot the unflattering picture or video. Teachers in the classroom, students at parties, parents attempting to get the bedrooms picked up, friends in their cars, there is no place that we can assume privacy.

The person who took the photo of Michael Phelps assualted him as surely as if he (or she) had taken a swing at him. The hit to his reputation will never be entirely recovered. This, alas, is now true of all of us. We're all public figures today.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:15 AM

    This was a complicated conversation at our dinner table too...the loss of privacy--not just the Michael Phelps pictures, but videos of people we know personally captured by someone else, who may or may not have discretion, a bone to pick, or just trying to get laughs. But in having the conversation, I felt deeply afraid of handcuffing their future actions through fear. Our kids our taught to be afraid to walk alone, afraid of the terrorists, fearful of economic catastrophe, and now fearful of the being "caught in the act." Will our children be afraid to act? Will they feel safer just tied to the computer all day--virtual living, rather than actual interaction?