Don’t expect any special effects.
In my latest
movie post, Magic Tiger, Hidden Lesson, I have stripped away all the karate-chopping, bamboo pole vaulting, freeze frame gizmodery that you might have been expecting. I hate to disappoint, so I’m letting you know now. Refunds are available at the front counter (please buy some popcorn first, you can’t return that).
Conceptualized over a conversation between Ken Brand and myself, I can only hope that my plot lines stay true to his original work. He’s quite the wordsmith, so I’ll try and do him proud.
Once upon a time…
It was actually yesterday and I was still getting my day started when I noticed a quiet tweet that almost passed me by. When I saw it, I didn’t think much of it and certainly didn’t expect it to turn into a post.
Tiger Woods vs. Magic Johnson. Two men. Similar situation (minus a case of HIV). One is beloved by the world. One is being thrown to the lions (pardon the feline-relative allusionary pun). What went wrong? How did Tiger end up being dumped by Gatorade and Magic Johnson got a TGI Friday’s (Magic owns several businesses in Los Angeles, all with his name on them, in this case, Magic Johnson’s TGI Fridays)? Okay, maybe it’s not that simple, but go back in time to Magic Johnson’s press conference and remember the moment.
Of course, Magic approached us publicly and that may have made the difference between him and the speculation over Tiger and whether or not he did leave voice messages for an attention-starved reality TV bit player. Regardless of how the situation was handled, there is a major difference between the two and our collective reactions to their dalliances.
On November 7, 1991 Johnson held a press conference to tell the world he had HIV. Although at the time he said he didn’t know how he contracted the disease (back in 1991 most people still thought only homosexuals and drug users were able to contract HIV), he later admitted it was through unsafe sex with multiple partners throughout his career. I remember the somber press conference well. I was never much of a basketball fan, but this was Magic-freaking-Johnson. He was one of happiest guys you could imagine. He was a hero to millions. He was bigger than Dr. J. (the only basketball player I ever had a poster of). The news hit hard on a nation still trying to wrap their heads around the whole concept of HIV. We were sad for Magic. We wished him well. We lost one of the greats that day. We supported him and hoped he would return someday.
Since the beginning, when the whispers started circulating that Tiger had been less than faithful, the rumor mill machine has woken from it’s slumber and started turning out daily press release style “announcements.” Not a second goes by that Tiger isn’t being talked about somewhere. Unlike Magic, not all of the talk is supportive. In fact, most of what I hear isn’t even close to supportive. People are angry, disgusted, and ready to try him in the court of public opinion. His once “squeaky clean” image is tarnished. This storm has only begun.
While I realize one could argue that the two men handled their situations much differently and therefore public opinion moved in opposite directions for each of them, I think there’s something bigger at play here.
Enter the Dragon.
By now, you’ve probably already figured out the plot line here. There’s a difference in the story arcs and it’s right in front of you. Social Media. The plot twist that you knew was coming, but still paid to see. With Benn’s recent posts about privacy involving social media, you can see what social media has brought to the table for celebrities and even us humble civilians. Privacy is under siege and waning everyday. As celebrity-obsessed peeping-toms we revel in their loss of privacy, but around our kitchen tables and office water coolers we insist we must fight tooth and nail to protect it.
Social media has opened up a can of worms and I fear some of the wiggly-woos have already squirmed their way out of sight. We can’t get them all back into the can and back on the worm farm. And we’re to blame. We opened our lives and insisted everyone become transparent in all their dealings – whether personal, professional, or the things we do in secret. The buzz word transparency became the death knell of privacy. While no one intended transparency to mean publicly, it certainly seems like that’s what we’re dealing with now and not just for the celebrity obsessed cult of Lindsay Lohan (don’t ever utter her name on Twitter – you will be followed immediately) bottom feeders. We’re demanding more and more of ourselves too. We want our businesses to be open and honest, but how far can we take that? I fear it may go further than we think.
So how do we pull back after we’ve already made a whole industry out of destroying people’s privacy? Some would argue that they signed up for it by becoming celebrities. My former musician past agrees and disagrees. Yes, there is an element of privacy that is naturally lost. You are there because the public got you there. You owe your fans. I can remember sitting in a cafe in Germany, having a cup of coffee with some local friends. Within minutes, we had to leave through the back door and head for the hills. I just wanted a cup of good coffee that I couldn’t get in my hotel room unless I was willing to sell my soul to the room-service-devil and ein bisschen interessant Gespräch mit meine Freunde. I never asked for the mob scene that ensued. I was always willing to give my time to fans, but not to be mauled and grabbed in a feeding frenzy.
I look forward to seeing some of the “opt out” ideas that Benn has mentioned in previous posts become reality as social media evolves. As real estate agents however, are we just like celebrities – courting the attention while claiming we don’t want too much of it?
photo courtesy of amyelizabeth.