How Facebook Will Change Our Scandals

More

For a country that claims to be obsessed with protecting our privacy, we certainly enjoy eroding it ourselves.

The explosion of Facebook and Twitter means that for the first time, huge swaths of our private lives are available to anyone with a computer screen and internet connection. It's not just the pictures and the step-by-step documentation of meals. A new algorithm can decipher a user's sexual orientation based on his profile and friends. NPR unveiled med students posting inappropriate pics on Facebook, from typical boozy fare to actual violations of patient confidentiality. Will Facebook's popularity make damaging scandals more common, or will it make the breaking of private-life scandals seem merely commonplace?

A combination seems the most likely outcome: Scandals will still exist, but popular reaction could ease. As with monetary inflation -- the more money out there, the lower the value of the dollar -- we could experience scandal inflation. With so much private information sloshing around the net,  scandals could lose their luster.

It's happened before. Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg told the Boston Globe in 1999 that Republican Presidential contender George Bush would have to commit a horrible action to derail his candidacy because "Clinton's indiscretions have numbed the public." America had grown accustomed to all of Clinton's affairs, and these political errors lost their shock value.

A Facebook scandal like the one exposed in the NPR article about medical school students will not come as a surprise because, well, we've seen those kinds of pictures. Obama's off-the-record "jackass" comment about Kanye West was met with some outrage and a lot of shrugs. Maybe the future is plentiful scandals seeming prosaic. After all, who wants to throw stones when we all live in glass houses of our own making?

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In