Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lesson #1 in Good Judgment: Use It!

It wasn’t easy coming up with a topic to blog about this week. Having had a prescribed subject to discuss thus far, the freedom to blog about anything was both exciting and constraining at the same time. I knew I wanted to stay on the topic of social networking, but couldn’t seem to pull my thoughts together…until I saw this news story (video below) Monday morning that got my fingers itching to type.

Carmen Kontur-Gronquist served as mayor of Arlington, Oregon until some photos of questionable taste were discovered on her personal MySpace page. The pictures were apparently posted prior to her mayoral run in 2005, but townspeople got worked up anyways and ousted her. We can all guess what followed: mental distress, a circuit on the morning news shows, and a book deal (well not yet, but give it time). As I listened to her story, it seemed like the former mayor’s mishap occurred precisely so I’d have something to blog about! I jest, of course. But it really did shed light on some of the larger issues posed in our class.

Throughout the semester, we’ve discussed the role of social networking through the internet. People choose to share personal details for a number of reasons. For some, blogs are a platform to vent frustrations. For others, Facebook is the site of choice to stay connected and provide updates about their lives. But the bigger question is, do we consider the consequence of the information we put out there? In at least two prior posts, I’ve mentioned that as graduate students, we’re likely to exercise greater judgment in our internet revelations than our younger peers. However, the story about the former mayor completely contradicts the notion that wisdom comes with age. To be honest, I didn’t find her MySpace photo particularly “racy” – greater beings have been known to do worse. However, regardless of the reasoning behind posting the photos (by many accounts to a) meet a man and b) promote fitness), I can’t fathom why she didn’t think to delete the photos, or the entire page for that matter, once she decided to run for mayor.

As we discussed last week in class, people google everyone and everything; this holds true for celebrities, politicians, or your average Joe applying for a job. Clearly the former mayor was internet savvy enough to create her own MySpace page. Yet, she didn’t seem to understand that as a public figure, she’d become “google-worthy” and that her site could be used to destroy her reputation and career. She, like countless others before her, is likely to rebound from all this and move on to bigger and better things. But Kontur-Gronquist’s story is a great example of the power of social networking sites; they can make or break you, but the scales often seem tipped towards the latter...

On a personal note, I won’t be able to attend our last class since I’m heading to Ecuador on Tuesday. I really enjoyed this course, and it’s been fun reading everyone’s posts each week. Good luck with the rest of the semester!


Idle Wits said...

Hi Jasmin,

Good article…It is really disappointing that she ousted just because of that particular picture (I have seen only one picture they shown on TV…may be there were others?????) It is sad…I couldn’t agree more with you…You have to use your good judgment all the time in any instance. But really puzzles me that where is the line between where your personal privacy ends and your professional business begins? I am not sure this picture falls either side of the line!

BTW...Good Luck with the rest of your semester... I will add you to my blog circle so that can keep checking your blogs…keep in touch!

Bryan said...

I have to agree ousting her over this picture is ridiculous. But I couldn't help but question the reasons behind putting the pictures up on MySpace..I mean to improve her social life is fine, but why those pictures??

Olu said...

It is sad that once you become a public figure that either you come clean about everything in your life or you will be looked upon as someone who cannot be trusted because you are trying to hide something. I dont agree with the ruling but you also have to look at where all of this took place. It seemed as though people are very conservative and any showing of skin is a no no. I wonder do these people actually go to the beach or the pool is so do they swim in t-shirts. Can we start going after people who are breaking the law? Good luck Jasmin. Look forward to hearing about the trip.

Will A. said...

Hi Jasmine - Have fun in Ecuador! Your article was very interesting as it focused to me more on "common sense". I was a bit suprised that she did not consider the fact that those pictures could cause some controversial detriment to her position as a public figure.I am sure that everyone will agree with me that no one is perfect and in some small way or another we all have some skeletons in the closet. However, it still baffles me why she chose to kep those pictures up...especially on a site like MySpace. While every man or woman desires to look good and draw attention we all know that disclosing controversial pictures on our webpages could negatively affect our professional careers. But then again maybe she is way smarter than all of us. The mini fame that the controversy stirred plus the lucrative contract may have been a ploy all along....fame and riches does beat out rural politics!

Denis Largeron said...

lol, indeed this is "out-of-space" as we say in France... so hypocrite those giggling about sex (although I do agree, I saw much more inappropriate pics that swim suits pics...) ;-)
The question there migh have no link to internet or social networking, to me it's more a matter of judgemental social pressure, which might deserve an entire class too ;-)
Again Internet is just a mirror that reflect the society behabiors and believes, the hammer is just a tool, up to the guy to build a house or break it.