Blowing Your Top


I can’t say that I’ve been all that pleased with all the airplay that Bill O’Reilly’s meltdown on Inside Edition has gotten these past few weeks. Granted, I don’t care for O’Reilly much at all, and I won’t deny feeling a touch of the old schadenfreude when I saw the video the first few times. The video got really old in a hurry for me, though, and the more I see other people harp on it over and over — Keith Olbermann is the most famous of these people, but I’m even thinking about liberal bloggers here — the more I lose my taste for it. You can only tell a joke so many times in a given time frame before people stop laughing and start rolling their eyes whenever someone starts to tell the setup, and in a similar fashion you can only show that video so many times before O’Reilly dropping those f-bombs and blowing his stack gets banal and blasé.

Those of you who remember the days doubtlessly remember me doing similar stuff online back in the day. Yes, I’m actually empathisizing with Bill O’Reilly here; it isn’t the first time I’ve done so, and it likely won’t be the last. We all have episodes like that, but some of us happen to do it in a more public, amusing, and downright stupid fashion. Doing it on the Internet is the worst of all because it’s so easy for someone to make a permanent record of it; it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve really come to understand how everything I do online can and will come back to haunt me. I’m assuming that people in front of television cameras should similarly run under the assumption that anything they do in front of the camera, whether or not the little red light is on, could find its way out into the world later. At least I would assume so today in our satellite and digital recording era; back in 1989, though, I have to assume that not as much was being recorded due to the costs of professional videotape and archiving and all of that. Regardless, I think Bill O’Reilly had an expectation of privacy there that kind of got screwed over, and regardless of how amusing or vulgar or just plain wrong his Inside Edition meltdown was, to be making such a big deal out of it nearly two decades later strikes me as, well, kind of missing the point. Shouldn’t people who dislike O’Reilly be spending their time constructing solid arguments against his positions, not laughing over him shouting at his camera crew from nineteen years ago?

Episodes like this really make you double back on your own steps to make sure that you’re not doing anything that could come back to haunt you later. I mean, I like to think that I blog openly, but there’s lots of stuff I want to say on here that I don’t say because I’m worried it could be used against me later. (Hence my relative silence about Dad’s death, at least for now.) I’ve been using Twitter for several weeks now, though, and that’s just adding another layer of coverage about me, by me, that is part of a permanent record about my life and the things I’m doing. Now that Apple’s incorporating GPS into the next generation of iPhone (and I have to admit, between the new features and the lower price, Apple’s actually impressed me), soon we’ll even be creating records of the places we’ve been on a minute-to-minute, metre-to-metre basis. Orwell wrote about the perils of Big Brother watching over us all, but now we’re doing Big Brother’s work for him. I don’t think I’ve wanted to go on a vacation into the wilderness of Michigan more than I do at this exact moment.

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