The current debate on privacy here in the UK is an interesting one. A well-known footballer has been caught with his pants down. Literally. And so, in order to protect his reputation he paid in excess of £200k to lawyers for a super-injunction to keep this mess out of the press. Unfortunately, this didn’t keep it off the social networks and now it’s public knowledge. So, now not only has his misdemeanour come out, but it’s a hot topic on all media. Surely not what he had in mind when he coughed up his £200k.
This situation is quite complex so rather than get distracted in the privacy part of this debate I’d like to focus on the reputation angle.
If you are going to do something that damages your reputation, then you need to be mindful of the consequences. The transparency of social media has forced many of us to be more mindful of our behaviour. Whether it’s flirting around the boundaries of a relationship or showing a side of us that only alcohol reveals, we are all only too aware of the chaos that can ensue once it appears on Facebook.
So, to use the argument that a super-injunction is required to protect his reputation is a very weak one. The responsibility for reputation damage only lies with him! If he hadn’t acted like an idiot in the first place then he wouldn’t have anything to hide. And that is a lesson to us all.
If you do happen to act in a way that betrays your reputation, then surely on a personal level you need to learn from this. One of the first lessons of crisis management is to own up. Once you admit that you have made a mistake and that you are sorry, you are showing a human side. And that alone may gain you respect, merely for your honesty despite what you may have done. But trying to hide it, suggests that you are ashamed of your behaviour and that you know it was wrong. That is fuel for gossip and will only make things worse.
If we act is a way that is in line with our view of ourselves and reinforces what we want people to think about us, then there is no story.