Social media use can bring out the most unpleasant human dispositions; betrayal, voyeurism, puritanism, hypocrisy and sadism. All of these traits were on display during the leaked video `scandal` involving Konrad Hurrell and Teuila Blakely.
Clearly, whoever was entrusted with the original footage has betrayed Konrad and Teuila, that person knows who they are. When a private clip goes `viral` ever expanding ripples of voyeurism are created. We have early viewers and transmitters of the footage, engaged observers of the unfolding story on smartphones, Twitter, Facebook and multiple websites, television current affairs hosts, talk back hosts, newspaper columnists, fascinated viewers, listeners and readers and so on. Each breaking development and news angle gives the story a prurience which it did not originally possess.
There have, nevertheless, been some thoughtful observations. Kerre McIvor in a May 11 Sunday Herald piece entitled `Smartphones kill privacy` stated `boy am I glad I had my fun before cellphones were ubiquitous`. At the Catholic school she attended desirous teenagers could easily dismiss the threat that `God would be watching`. Kerre admitted that, `if the nuns had told us that everything we said and did could be recorded at any time and shared to the world, I would have been a lot more circumspect`. If this is the case now, then a new puritanism has arrived.
The `holier than thou` brigade wag their fingers at naughty videos as liberal, well adjusted youngsters live in fear that they will be dobbed in by the puritans among their peers.
Puritanism is the begetter of hypocrisy, as our leaked video story clearly indicates. In Rachel Glucina`s NZ Herald opinion column `The Diary: star tells of backlash over leaked video` Teuila recounts the loss of a major sponsorship deal with a major brand. Apparently they said `on a personal level we love and support you and we`ve had a great relationship with you`. Teuila regards this as sad because `for them it’s a moral issue`. For me, what is sad here is the hypocrisy of the sponsor. They state their support and do exactly the opposite. For them this a commercial not a moral evaluation, can`t have a leaked video of our client tainting the brand .
And what are we to make of the NRL integrity board? Konrad cops a $5000 dollar fine for embarrassing an organisation that has, in the past, tacitly condoned the drunken, rapacious escapades of `Mad Monday` (a historic rite of passage for NRL professionals). And then we have the silent sadistic abusers who troll the net for celebrity victims. Disgusting of course, yet demonising these people exclusively, deflects our attention from those who are merely prurient.
There are some lessons to be drawn from this sorry tale. First, there is an iron law which rules the social media world; the growing capacity for 24/7 communication entails an equal capacity for 24/7 surveillance. In this case the surveillance is social, some of us have internalised the all seeing `big brother` mentality which pervades our security agencies. To the extent that this is true the boundary between private and public life is disappearing. Second, these disturbing tendencies need to recognised and studied in our educational institutions. The combination of teenage jealousy, bullying and constant real time transmission of text and video is, potentially, emotional and social dynamite.
Here, the `selfies` phenomenon deserves special mention. The concept of narcissism should be explored in the junior highschool social studies curriculum. A good starting point would be the Greek legend of Narcissus accompanied by a visual of Dali`s famous painting. These matters need to be considered early in life, it shouldn`t be the responsibility of an adult rugby league club. The final lesson is this. When consensual sexual encounters that are caught on video go `viral` it is not the participants who are being indecent. Rather, it is the betrayers, voyeurs, puritans and hypocrites who feed off the situation for their own purposes.