Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Dear Michael Phelps...

I just watched the cast of The View argue over what should happen to Michael Phelps (which was pretty entertaining). Of course everyone is weighing in on this, including Ashton Kutcher, who in his infinite wisdom said ""God forbid he hit a bong. Go ask your 20-year-old kid what they did last weekend." I would agree that it does suck that because he is a celebrity he is being held to a higher standard. Then again, he's being paid millions of dollars for his trouble. My life is more or less defined by the fact that working with youth makes me a role model, and I get paid hundreds of dollars for it. (Hmm... could I get some endorsements?)

What I would like to say to Michael is that there is no such thing as private life anymore. Literally everything we do could end up on the internet. Can you imagine when this generation starts running for political office? All of those myspace pictures, facebook albums from college parties, etc? You can take them down, but once you've put them out there you can't be sure someone else doesn't still have them. My friends and I are pretty careful about what pictures we are tagged in in Facebook, but that means we have to rely upon the people we are around to comply with our requests. So the necessary result for me is that I don't ever want to be in a situation that I wouldn't want to be revealed to the world. This is what I'm trying to impress upon teenagers is that we all need to be so careful about what we do and who we do it with. The super-plugged-in world we live in adds a new incentive for acting with integrity. "Do the right thing whether people will find out or not"... because people will probably find out.

I generally object more to stupidity than immorality. Because people make mistakes. We all have vices and we all have things we don't want people to find out about. I'm a fan of working toward integrity and making good decisions, but I know we aren't all there. So I am not endorsing hypocracy, but seriously people! If you have something to lose (reputation, endorsements, a place on a sports team, a job or admission into college) by making certain decisions think long and hard about what you are doing, and if you still want to do it at least make sure there are no cameras out!

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