The Stanley Cup Kissing Couple: The Internet Doesn’t Forget

If you haven’t seen it, there’s been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the newly-dubbed Stanley Cup "kissing couple."  Following the Boston Bruin’s defeat of the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup last week, riots spread across Vancouver, setting cars on fire and causing irreversible damage to the city. The New York Times reports that close to 100 arrests were made and about 170 people were hospitalized.

Amid the mayhem, one couple, instead of participating in the riots, decided to show a softer side. Lying in the middle of the street, surrounded by cops, rioters and burning cars, the couple engaged in a passionate kiss, and lucky for us, this highly contrastive scene was caught on camera.

To most, this photo is nothing but the source of quick chuckle, or even praise to the photographer for capturing such a contrast. However, the Stanley Cup “kissing couple” photo actually does something much more powerful. It reminds us just how unprivate our “private” lives actually are.

A day after the incident, the "kissing couple" was identified by friends and relatives from online photos and invited onto the Today Show. A recent New York Times article uses this as example of how the web crushes any chance of anonymity.

The web, propelled by social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, has become a place where anything and anyone can be found and identified. The article quotes Dave Morgan, the chief executive of Simulmedia, who eloquently said, “The Internet can’t be made to forget.” Well put, Dave. This is a powerful sentiment that too often consumers - as well as businesses - either forget, or choose to ignore. The reality is every Internet user has a “footprint” which cannot be erased.

Sure you can “untag” that old college Facebook photo of you, but it still lives online in the original photo album, possibly accessible to a potential employer.

Or how about this: a hot shot business exec of a huge company is caught on camera saying a something inappropriate. Within five minutes, that video is up on YouTube. Sure, he or she could lobby to get it taken down, but in the time that it takes to do that, a thousand copies have already been made and distributed online.

The point is, as technology continues to evolve, the line between our private and public lives continues to get more and more blurry. It seems to go back to the saying that every action has a reaction. This isn’t new – in fact we’ve been hearing since age five.

So, my question is, why aren’t we taking our actions more seriously? Consumers and businesses are still careless, creating a lousy internet footprint which leads to a lousy reputation. Then we wonder, what went wrong?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for separating private and public life, personal and professional life. But the harsh reality is that this convergence is becoming nearly impossible to stop. And in the current business world where competition is fiercer than ever, without a good reputation, you’ve got close to nothing.

Contributed by Jessica Boardman. Follw her @j_boardman.