By now, most people know a lot about Geraldo Rivera. In fact, if you've spent even 15 minutes online in the last month, you can probably guess how much the man weighs. That's because he published an unfortunate "selfie" on Twitter, and the photo quickly went viral. In no time at all, he went from news figure to punch line, and he inflicted that damage on his own. No one held a gun to his head, no one published photos on the sly; he did it on his own.
In an interesting column, Rivera suggests that he published the photo on a whim at the end of a very long day full of work and controversy. He was tired, he wasn't thinking clearly and he made one impulse decision that would come to haunt him: He found a photo and he stuck it on Twitter. He suggests that he wouldn't make such a mistake in the morning, when his head was clear and his mind was focused, but that late nights make him prone to oversharing.
This got us thinking.
It's a well-known fact that Americans spend a disgusting amount of time simply screwing around on the web, rather than getting anything important accomplished. RescueTime attempted to determine just how much time people were wasting online, and they found that the average person spends:
- Close to 17 minutes per day on Facebook
- Almost 10 minutes per day watching videos on YouTube
- More than 17 minutes per day on Facebook applications like Farmville and Mafia Wars
- Close to 6 minutes per day on Twitter
Companies are obviously furious about this type of behavior, as each moment spent watching kitty videos or building up a virtual farm is another moment that person could be making money for the company that chose to hire them. But even people who work at home, and who have no real boss watching over them, might get frustrated about their online habits. They might spend hours doing things they shouldn't, rather than spending time on their homework assignments or their freelance projects.
Companies have stepped into the void by providing a variety of blocking software tools. StayFocusd, for example, allows users to specify a specific number of sites that they should steer clear of during the work day, and the program releases those blocks when the evening arrives. LeechBlock, made for the users of Firefox, works in much the same manner, allowing users to specify both sites they dislike and the times at which they should avoid those sites.
It's reasonable to believe that most users of these software programs block time-wasting sites between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm, and allow themselves to visit any site at all in the evenings and on weekends. But what if the software was reversed? Would it make sense for you to block your access to social media at night, when you might be more likely to share selfie photos and other embarrassing details?
If you've been known to share a little too much at night, the answer might be "yes." In fact, downloading some of these software solutions might keep you from harming your online reputation when the lights are low and your judgment is a little impaired. But if you already have damaging materials floating around the internet, this help might come a little too late for you. In which case, you may find that instead of an online nanny to prevent you from oversharing, what you need is an internet reputation repair service to clean up your online image.