Two Different Approaches to Virtual Integrity

Sometimes you can learn a lot by seeing two different people tackle the same problem in very different ways.

The problem is virtual integrity. How can we avoid the sort of online stupidity Anthony Weiner committed? Alexandra Samuel, blogging for the Harvard Business Review, offers one approach in “The Three P’s Of Online Indulgence.” Dan Lohrmann, Chief Technology Officer for the state of Michigan, suggest another way in his piece “Can Online Indulgence Be Managed?” Neither piece is terribly long. Read Samuel’s, and then read Lohrmann’s response.

Here’s the gist, from Lohrmann:

There seems to be a never-ending supply of stories in the news about educated adults, people “who should know better” or even leaders in society getting into serious trouble because of their virtual-world behavior. From politicians to pastors to K-12 teachers, negative aspects of the Internet can emerge in unlikely ways – even using “helpful” tools such as email, Twitter, Facebook and Craigslist. The real-world results are showing up all around us: broken relationships, shattered careers and even jail time.

What’s to be done? Ms. Samuel goes further, “But you can manage the personal and professional risks of online indulgence by remembering the 3 Ps: Principled, Private and Planned.”

This is where I part ways with the respected Harvard Business Review blogger. I wonder: Can we really control online vices in this way? The overall effect of her words is to compartmentalize each of us into two (or more) distinct identities using online privacy. This approach may work for a time, but surely leads to eventual disaster. In a sense, this guidance is turning online privacy into the “potion” that allowed Dr. Jekyll to change into Mr. Hyde in the famous book “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886.

Read the whole thing. And you may be interested in Dan Lohrmann’s book Virtual Integrity.