Monday, April 11, 2016

A digital tattoo that can't be removed

We all have photos and moments from our past we'd rather forget. They show up online when we least expect them, like an un-scrubbable digital tattoo. On Facebook. On Instagram. On Twitter.

Mine aren't as bad as others. I once played John Hancock in a community theatre production of 1776. And despite my best efforts, a photo of me in that powdered wig surfaces every now and then. (It could be worse; it's not a photo of me with my own hair.)

It's a digital shadow I can't elude. But it likely won't affect my professional reputation. Unless it appears on LinkedIn.

Jian Ghomeshi photo by Canadian Film Centre from
Toronto, Canada (ideaBOOST Launch Pad
May 8, 2014) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm better able to move forward from that awkward powdered-wig image than Jian Ghomeshi, the former CBC radio host whose career imploded when, in 2014, multiple women accused him of harsh sexual behavior. CBC dismissed Ghomeshi from his talk program "Q" (heard on public radio stations across the U.S. and Canada). Newspapers and websites published sensational, lurid accounts of Ghomeshi's rough sex tendencies, even before the trial where the accusers would testify.

A few weeks ago, with less fanfare than Ghomeshi received when the story first broke, a judge dismissed the charges against the former broadcaster. Details of the trial decision appeared in this article.

My view: Ghomeshi's likely guilty of some abusive behavior. And, as a public figure, he should have known better. Most celebrities learn that a national microphone or stage comes with an extra dose of public scrutiny. The trial judge determined that several witnesses were deceptive in disclosing details of their relationships with Ghomeshi, and he dodged even more trouble.

But don't listen for his voice to return to your public radio station. Unlike an embarrassing photo, his digital tattoo -- heavily inked with inferences of predatory sexual behavior -- can't be scrubbed or bleached away.