One of the things that struck me from the testimony of former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan was his assumption that privacy is only something we need to hide bad things and that every time he had dug into the details of someone’s life he had discovered secrets that could be laid bare and that would sell newspapers.
Isn’t that just a little bit scary that no matter how good we think we might be, that something could be picked out and used to trash our reputation?
I like to think that I lead a relatively good life and that there is little in it that would be of interest to anyone really. Yet the scrutiny that Amanda Knox and others has been subjected to in the name of news is all consuming and when some of the details seem to have been taken out of context they have created dramatic headlines.
Would my life really look so uninteresting if someone decided to crawl all over it?
I keep my personal Facebook account locked down so hard for people to find pictures of me on there. Or at least hard until Facebook changes another of its security settings and everything has to be reset. But now I think about it there are a few people on there that aren’t close friends, people who I know via other people. Should I be deleting them on the basis they may have an axe to grind that I don’t know about.
I’m eternally grateful that I went to college before the advent of Facebook and Twitter and the like. I know there are various photos around the place of me being silly and student-ish. Nothing particularly silly or embarrassing but still pictures that I’d probably prefer aren’t splattered over a newspaper. Would people think differently of me if they saw me looking young and immature and a bit under the weather? I’d hope not but then how do people react to photos of David Cameron togged up for the Bullingdon Club? There are plenty of pictures of me in evening dresses and academic gowns.
And recently, is my life as clean as it should be? I’m not having an affair (I mean where would you find the time?), nor am I embezzling or committing criminal acts so I should be ok. But then there are pictures of me at the MADs looking less than a sober, respectable, 35 year old mother of two. Could those photos be taken out of context to make me look bad. Probably.
Yes I write this blog and I do worry that some of it might not look to good when taken side-by-side with my professional image. I’m fairly certain that my boss wouldn’t be exactly happy to read that we are trying to have another baby but even so, I think, and I’ve had a good look back through my archive that there’s nothing on here that could damage me. Although that doesn’t say that someone couldn’t take a comment and twist it.
And I have tried to create a firewall between my online me and my offline me. Who knows if that would really work if people wanted to dig up dirt. It probably would have little effect and then how would it look that I tried to hide what I was writing away. Probably not great when posted all over the daily papers.
In fact the more I think about it, if a journalist wanted to write a story portraying me in a bad light they probably could. 35 year old mum of two who works, drinks too much red wine, likes shoes and red lipstick and having a giggle. Can be found tweeting at times when she should probably be doing something more grown up and occasionally is a little bit sweary.
I guess if it sells papers, even the most innocuous things can be used against you.
Perhaps it’s time that we stopped buying these type of papers and fuelling the interest. Perhaps our hunger for the lurid details and photos of people’s private lives has created this monster. And perhaps it’s time we stopped feeding it.