Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis is a fascinating, and I think seminal work dedicated to the realities — yes, realities — of living our lives in public via the network. Jeff has penned a primer for everybody, filled with bullet points and quotes for PowerPoint presentations everywhere. It’s a warning but also a positive message for a culture in change, and I think it provides very important messages for everybody. It’s on my must-read list, and I’ll be recommending it to everybody I encounter.
And I may do so with the following story as an attachment, for it demonstrates at least some of what Jeff’s referencing in Public Parts. It’s a story of how the network is and will influence life beyond its bits and bytes.
Meet Victoria Liss, who works as a bartender at a popular night spot in Seattle. She had an encounter Saturday night with a customer, later identified as Andrew Meyer, who appears to have eaten at the bar and was served by Victoria. For whatever reason, he refused to give her a tip. Instead, he felt it appropriate to leave her some advice. “You could stand to loose (sic) a few pounds.”
There was a time when an anonymous customer might be able to get away with such boorish behavior, but, as Jeff so brilliantly points out, we live our lives in public these days. She posted the note on her Facebook page, and friends leaped into action. Soon, they’d found old Andrew, and now his face is all over Victoria’s page and beyond. Somebody sent the story to Dan Savage, and it’s now going viral. Savage posts that Meyer works for Microsoft, went to Texas Tech, and lives in Kent. Nice.
Mr. Meyer’s reputation is now permanently stamped with this foolishness, and while you can say he deserves it, the reality is that he will never be allowed to get past it. As Jeff writes, this stuff is a tattoo; it’s there forever. I have to view this as a net good thing, because our culture needs some form of governor beyond the government itself, and being called out for this kind of stuff could have a lasting impact on the other assholes of the world.
UPDATE: Victoria is now apologizing for identifying the wrong guy on her FB page. Yeesh.