Nowadays, that's easier said than done. Now that every Tom, Dick, and Mary seem to carry a phone capable of taking photos, and then they immediately post said pics on the Internet for all the world to see, doing something idiotic has never been more open to public scrutiny.
When out on a group date many years ago... in the good old days... after we all gorged ourselves on pizza, I was trying to be as fast as possible in the rest room, because I didn't want to keep everyone waiting. In my haste, I obviously didn't pull my red-and-white striped petti-pants (WITH a spiffy white fringe!) all the way up, because as we were walking to our cars, they, um... fell down! (Leading my date to refer to me as Droopy Drawers for some months afterwards.) It was hilariously embarrassing, but the other giggling gals very kindly shielded me from view while I yanked them back up again. Nowadays, something like that would have (shudder) been immortalized on the Internet forever. One moment of embarrassments turned into a lifetime's embarrassment... UGH!
Anyhow, what follows is a post that originally appeared on March 29, 2011 with the title Under the Looking Glass? It didn't get many visitors back then, so it will be new to almost all of you.
Thought for the day: No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
Ever have one of those great big oopsie moments? You know, where you do something unbelievably stupid and just pray nobody's watching? Or if they are, you hope they have a really crappy memory?
I was a senior in high school at the time, and was selected by my drama teacher to perform a scene from Tea and Sympathy for a big PTSA open house. Now, I was a bit of a nerd, meaning I was all about the academics, and drama was an elective course for me. I enjoyed it, and was okay at it, but Meryl Streep I wasn't. Still, I was pretty excited at the idea of showing my stuff.
Unfortunately, my friend and fellow nerd Robby, who happened to be manning the spotlight, was also interested in showing my stuff...
In the scene, I was an "older woman" who was about to (ahem) get up-close and personal, shall we say, with a younger man. My closing line was, Years from now... when you talk about this... and you will... be kind. While delivering the line, I was also slowly unbuttoning my blouse. And oh man, I really nailed that line, if I must say so myself. That line was supposed to be the cue for my smart-ass buddy to fade the spotlight to darkness.
It would've been oh-so-dramatic.
Was supposed to be dramatic, damn it.
My "buddy" thought it'd be great fun to leave the light on to see what I would do. Oh yeah, it was hysterical.
So what did I, the academic nerd, do? I looked straight at the spotlight and snarled, "LIGHTS!"
Kinda spoiled the effect, ya know? (But he DID douse the light.)
Anyhow, what made me think about all this was the incredible train wreck I observed on the internet yesterday. A self-published writer from England committed an enormous oopsie. She had what amounted to an emotional melt-down over a review of her book. The funny thing was, the review wasn't even all that bad. The reviewer said that her story was quite good, actually, but because of the plentiful spelling and grammatical errors, he gave her a two-star rating. That should've been the end of it. But it wasn't. Her subsequent postings, which by the way, were chock full of misspellings, grammatical errors, and tortuously convoluted syntax, were laced with profanities. Dropped the f-bomb a couple times. Snarled at anyone and everyone who tried to soothe her anger or offer guidance. Insisted that there was nothing wrong with her writing, although, clearly, there was. All of this, mind you, on a website frequented by other writers, agents, and publishers. More and more people joined the fray, as news of the "happening" spread through Twitter and other websites.
She single-handedly put herself in the spotlight, and then committed professional suicide. It's a shame, really, but I suppose she could always ... change her name.
But the bottom line here is: remember, on the internet, you're more than in a spotlight.
You're under the looking glass.
And it doesn't matter if the people watching you screw up have a crappy memory, either. Once it's on the internet, it STAYS on the internet... providing a potential eternity of shame. Thank God YouTube wasn't around when I was a teenager. For that, I am eternally grateful. (I'll bet YOU are, too!)
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.