Years ago before the days of email and social media, when Baby Boomers discovered that the office photocopier was very good for distributing off colour jokes and dirty pictures, there was a joke about a little bird, a pile of horse manure and an eagle.
I can’t remember the joke exactly but the punchline ran something like “If you are in the shit but safe and warm don’t shout about it”. I think the little bird started tweeting about it’s predicament, attracted unwanted attention and became an eagles breakfast.
The recent uproar in the UK about a soccer player, a model, allegations of illicit sex on the set of a TV reality show, injunctions, super injunctions, hyper injunctions and learned British legal people getting hot under the collar, reminds me of that old joke.
For readers not familiar with the story, it concerns a well known English soccer player and a model who allegedly got into a little more than brotherly love or affectionate sibling embraces, on the set of a Big Brother show. That should not have been a major problem, affairs happen to all sorts of people. The more famous the participants, the more sensational the reporting of it.
The traditional media, print, radio and tv got wind of a good story, but before they could publish even the first hints, the soccer player – presumably not short of a penny or two – obtained an injunction from the British courts banning the publication of the story and, it appears a “super” injunction which banned reference to the injunction itself.
There was also some talk of a possible “hyper” injunction which would ban any media speculation of whether an injunction – plain, super or hyper had been granted. After “hyper” the next term in ascending grandeur or (retail store definitions) would be “mega”. The mind boggles.
The British media complied with the terms of the injunction, what more could be expected from the country that invented cricket and fair play?
The audacity of twitter users ignoring an injunction awarded by a British court caused severe consternation in legal circles. Complaints about electronic media being “Out of Control” were uttered by indignant, learned and be-wigged gentlemen in legal and government offices.
Now it seems that another soccer player applied for an injunction at about the same time for a different alleged incident. Both are threatening legal action, one against twitter and the other an English reporter. The male star of the first incident has been named in the House of Commons. He has also been identified in the main stream media, the whole world will soon know every sordid detail about his indiscretions, real, alleged or just imagined!
If he had been old enough to remember the old joke about the little bird in the pile of horse manure and kept his mouth shut, he would only have been a five minute wonder locally, not the subject of international attention.
The other interesting point to this story is that some of the very same people who are now complaining about the electronic media being “Out of Control” were presumably celebrating the role of electronic media in spreading democracy during the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.
The word hypocrisy does come to mind.
So a warning to all of us whether engaged in Internet Marketing, business, TV reality shows, revolutions or alleged indiscretions. Social media can be a double edged sword. It can spread things we would rather keep quiet around the world just as quickly as it can overthrow dictators. And it cannot be silenced by injunctions, plain, super or hyper!
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.