The Upside of (Google) Glass Houses for Political Discourse

Written by Sadman

Faux outrage. American politics runs on it – in conception and reality. By faux outrage, I mean the red-faced, pontificating that all-too-regularly oozes from the mouths of “pundits,” both left and right leaning, at the mere whiff of political blood in the water. The “faux” part of this vege-patty rage burger is the fact that almost certainly none of said pundits or politicians is in the least bit bothered by the actions they claim so upset them. In the case of faux rage at moral or social actions (as opposed to political actions), this contrivance is likely partnered with a healthy helping of hypocrisy. The problem with “faux rage” is that it happens with such regularity that it becomes hard to differentiate between real rage.

Let’s try an exercise: Rank the following political “moral/social blunders” in order of actual offensiveness:

  1. Picture of John Kerry windsurfing furthers his elitist/disconnected image
  2. Anthony Weiner sends picture of “himself” to a woman other than his wife
  3. Picture of Romney in college with dollar bills in mouth furthers his elitist/disconnected image
  4. Picture of Obama “palling around” with terrorist Robert Ayers
  5. Video of Romney deriding “47% of America ” who just want to freeload
  6. Obama’s Reverend Wright seen on video saying “God damn America”

I had a hard time ranking them. And that is because none of them is truly offensive, and more importantly none have even the slightest bearing on a candidate’s ability to effectively execute the duties of a political office. However, that does not stop them from creating television news cycles, consuming valuable discussion time during debates, and in the case of “Carlos Danger,” even ending political careers. But here comes the good news – I posit, dear readers, that these unsightly displays of faux moral outrage will be a thing of the past within a generation. The reason- social media. Two key factors will drive this change.

1) “Every step you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you” (Sting always says it best)

With the advent and subsequent rise of social media goliaths like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and no doubt, many more to come, for tomorrow’s generation of politicians, political commentators, and even voters, there will be no way to hide past bad behavior and indiscretions. This effective documentation of every sphere of social interaction will make it increasingly difficult for folks to mud-sling without photo/video evidence of their own bad behavior being slung back at them. Think I am exaggerating? Think you are immune because you changed the privacy settings on your Facebook account so only your “friends” can see your profile? Wait till we live in a world of Google Glass, when audio and video of public places will almost constantly be recorded by someone, let alone the implications of 100% video covered cities, which already exist (i.e., Dubai, 50% and rising in London). The short version of this is “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Soon more appropriately it will be, “those who live in Google Glass houses, won’t throw stones.”

2) Increased tolerance for “bad behavior”

A second implication, and one I believe to be more desirable than the “mutually assured destruction” described in 1) above, is that people will hopefully just not care anymore. Social media contributes to this because the natural side effect of seeing everyone’s dirty laundry, is that you realize everyone has dirty laundry, so don’t let a candidate’s skid marks dissuade you from voting for him (metaphorically speaking). In an increasingly open age, we will no longer be able to put politicians (or any public figure for that matter) on a pedestal but rather see them for who they are – flawed individuals like the rest of us. Individuals who can have youthful indiscretions, cheat on significant others, drink too much or use illicit substances, say racist things, have complex/inconsistent religious beliefs, or at some time or another in life associate with someone who turned out to be a very bad person.

I really hope I am right about this. But just in case I am wrong, let’s just attribute these blogs to my nom de guerre, “Sadman.”

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