New media tips for T&T politicians…and you

Above: Any day on social media. Photo by Avemario/DepositPhotos.

BitDepth#1095 for May 30, 2017

In light of the recent travails of local politicians, not to mention those not too far in the past and the great likelihood that future mortars will offer more than the pestle, these guidelines for navigating the business of governance in the 21st century may prove useful to all who have a public profile.

Which these days, thanks to social media, is pretty much everybody.

Whatever you post will haunt you. Forever.

There are three essential skills for using social media. Copy, paste and screenshot. Using these tools, available on all electronic devices capable of connecting to the web, any user can capture and share anything you have ever said or are ever going to say. Assume that you are being photographed, recorded on video or audio or livestreamed, all the time.

Don’t think that somebody is going to miss that ill-advised rant you posted at 3:00am and then immediately deleted. Somebody, somewhere, has already captured it and like that alloo pie you really shouldn’t have eaten quite that late, it’s going to be back in a form you don’t care for.

Unless you live on SnapChat or prefer disappearing stories in Instagram, the posts you made in 2010 are probably still around and available to anyone with the stamina to endlessly keep clicking “Load more.”

If you’re just regular folk, you may be interested to know that employers in foreign are now not just examining social media profiles not for personal misjudgements.

They are also rejecting job applicants who don’t reveal themselves sufficiently on social media, claiming that they can’t get a read on their character.

Don’t underestimate the Trini capacity for macoing your business. If you posted it, you may have forgotten it, but social media doesn’t. If it’s there, people will dig for it with the enthusiasm of a forensic investigator because they have nothing better to do right then.

Heaven knows how much dirt has been unearthed and dished while people were waiting for a late bus at CityGate.

You don’t have to post the sword you die by.

If you’re looking over your shoulder at the vigilant and relentless media, you’re looking in the wrong place. Instead, walk outside your plush office and look around at the cubicles that house your staff. This is where espionage lives.

Some of the material leaked on the goings on at the Ministry of Youth and Sport (MYSA) appears to have been captured on a smartphone, so deep investigations into the ministry’s email servers were pointless.

Everybody has the perfect 1960’s spy device, one that Q would have loved to give 007, in their pocket. And people don’t even have to hate you to out you. They may be motivated by that almost forgotten incentive, awareness of an injustice, to snap a photo of something and then send it along to someone who can make use of it.

Or they might be bored and think it would be a laugh to see what happens. Give people meaningful work and job satisfaction and they may prove less likely to sell you out. Or maybe more. Work it out and see.

Image from Cindy Cupid’s Instagram feed. Via Wired868. Click to enlarge.

It’s not just you.

People around you will post innocently about stuff they are doing that they enjoy. They may have no sense that something wrong is happening or that recording what they are doing is probably a bad idea.

That Instagram snap of the Sport Minister’s personal assistant Cindy Cupid enjoying life on the links in the sun at the Magdalena Grand, allegedly during the controversial THA Sports Awards trip was, possibly, even more incriminating than the documents recording the particulars of the trip itself. It was a definitive illustration of Ronnie McIntosh’s warning, “how it go look?”

Optics are everything in the world of social media and cameras are trained on public figures and anybody remotely interesting from multiple angles and you have no control over any of it or how it’s distributed.

The court of social media opinion is convened with lightning speed, gathers evidence with stunning efficiency and sometimes, even accuracy and delivers judgement like a hammer, often before you are aware that something is happening.

Your choice is simple. Be George Washington and strive to tell the truth and actually live the life you espouse or be Donald Trump and own your malfeasance with enthusiasm and vigor. There is no longer any middle ground.