DUI: ‘Driving’ Under the Influence: Too Much ‘Fluid’ity

A handsome Irish American man with green beer on St. Patrick's Day.  White background.

Sorry – I’m going after Twitter, MySpace & Facebook again…it seems somehow fitting a few days before St. Patrick’s Day…

Supposedly, we look at technology as a tool to make things easier for us in our daily lives.  Yeah…easier for us to make damn fools of ourselves.  Let’s do a
little ‘new’ math:

A + D + K/BP – J = T

Alcohol + Drugs + Keyboard/pad – Judgment = TROUBLE

When I was on the front lines of support, we had a great inside joke about the average ‘driver’ (in tech, we refer to the person operating the PC as the driver).  It went like this:

Tech Support Guy #1:  Great news!  We figured out what’s wrong with Bob’s PC!
Tech Support Guy #2:  Awesome!  What’s the problem?
Tech Support Guy #1:  It’s in-between the mouse and the chair…

(insert laughter and applause here)

Go back and read my two-part series on ESI.  If you get anything at all out of the review, remember one word – and one word only – relevance.  There still seems to be a disconnect with many of the people I speak with about what makes something evidence!

Let’s take a statement, for example.  What was said, who said it, where it was said, when it was said and why it was said are all factors, of course.  But what gets it in for the purposes of a legal matter is its relevance to the issue at hand.

Knowing this, why are you smoking joints and/or drinking a six-pack of beer, then running your mouth on your social network?  And why are you posting those photos of you & the gang hoisting beers with the caption, “PARTYYY!!!” underneath?

You wanna make the ‘privacy’ argument?  The law is fluid, not static.  What’s illegal today may be legal tomorrow – and vice versa – so go ahead and hang your hat on that one.  Besides, say the wrong thing in the wrong forum and you waive your right to privacy!

If this sounds like a stern lecture to the younger crowd, I assure you, it’s not (although of course by any measure, the younger crowd makes the most use of social networking by far).  But here’s the problem.  The younger crowd becomes the older crowd someday (yours truly is still young at heart).  You are making mistakes you can’t undo – not even with the ‘delete’ key.

This isn’t an argument about past mistakes or even present ones.  This is about the future.  Whether you ask yourself how an off-hand remark today can somehow be relevant five years later isn’t the point.  You don’t know what you’ll be doing five years from now, anyway.  But trust me, it will be relevant and the judge isn’t going to care that, “well, I was young and drunk at the time”.  That’s not exactly a sterling character reference.

There are a plethora of articles about the perils of social networking in relation to background checks, jobs, etc.  That’s not my area of purview.  You may not just be screwing yourselves.  You may be screwing your j0385315employers, and whenever those two worlds collide, it opens up a slew of legal, ethical and privacy arguments – and you will lose many of those arguments.

Social networking has the potential to be like that tattoo you regret getting when you were
drunk last night or the morning after, when you wake up and can’t
recall what you did the night before…

For your sake, I hope it wasn’t spent sitting between the mouse and the chair…