The NON-Disposable Culture
The term “disposable culture” has been used to describe the transitory nature of movies, books, and especially music in the digital age. Everything is fleeting. Nothing is substantial. You download a song, listen to half of it, and delete it. You buy a book and it sits on your Kindle forever. You rent a movie on demand and only half-watch it while scrolling through your phone. At the end, you don’t even need to rewind it or take it back to the store.
It’s all disposable.
However, outside of pop media, today’s culture is anything but disposable. These days, everything is saved, even if you think it was deleted long ago. Each of us has a digital footprint the size of Godzilla. Nothing disappears anymore.
Just ask Roger Goodell.
Over the past few days, members of the (social) media have been asking Richard Nixon-esque questions about Goodell: What did he know? When did he know it? Did he cover it up?
Immediately following the release of the Ray Rice elevator tape, Goodell, through the NFL, released a statement denying everything. Then they hoped it would go away. And, in years past, maybe it would have.
In years past, Goodell (or anyone) could deny until they died, vehemently insisting they had done nothing wrong, making it a case of one person’s word against another’s, and try to ride out the storm. In most cases, it would blow over. Just imagine if Chappaquiddick happened today.
However, that’s no longer possible. There’s a voicemail from an NFL phone number in which an individual acknowledges not only receiving the tape, but also viewing it. That person will of course be made the scapegoat, but even if Goodell keeps his job, his tenure will always be tarnished. Maybe in the end he’ll realize that and resign before being kicked out. Much like Nixon. While Goodell is a professional sports commissioner and Richard Nixon was the President of the United States, it appears that their stories share similar trajectories, only Goodell’s is happening at an exponentially faster clip.
Something everyone forgets: Watergate wasn’t one story. It was an escalating series of stories, an unraveling that took months and numerous stories to ultimately reveal itself. It was also 1974. So much has changed in 40 years.
Today, everything happens so much faster. The moment you deny something, someone will be standing there with a smartphone and a grin, saying, “Are you sure?”
Don’t believe me?
Ask Mitt Romney about 47%.
Regarding his comment that forty-seven percent of Americans feel entitled and expect the government to provide for them Romney defiantly proclaimed, “Actually, I never said that.” Even though there is a video of him saying it!
Ask Donald Sterling. Ask Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry. Ask Hulk Hogan. Ask Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. Ask Mel Gibson.
There’s always a video. Or a recording. Or a transcript. Or an email. Or a photo. Or a phone record. Or a text.
Everything leaks. Whether it’s intentional or not. If it’s not a spurned lover or an ex-employee or someone looking for fame, it could be Anonymous, the group that can gain access to anyone and anything and love nothing more than to prove that those people that wrap themselves in the cloak of moral superiority are just as fallible as the rest of us.
I’m guilty too. I know for a fact that I’ve sent emails and texts that, when viewed objectively and read out of context, years later, would be categorized as racist or sexist, far worse than the clichéd buzzwords that now get used like “insensitive” or “problematic.”
We’ve all said things we’d like to take back and pretend never happened and, if pressed, say, “I never said that!”
That’s no longer an option. Whether you think it’s good or bad, it’s now the reality.
And we all have to adjust. Immediately.
Christopher Pierznik is the author of six books, all of which can be purchased inPaperback, Kindle, and Nook. A former feature contributor and managing editor of I Hate JJ Redick, he has also written for XXL, Please Don’t Stare, Amusing My Bouche, Reading & Writing is for Dumb People, A Series of Very Bad Decisions, and others. He works in finance and spends his evenings changing diapers and drinking craft beer. He once applied to be a cast member on The Real World, but was rejected. You can like his Facebook page here and follow him on Twitter here.