Gen Ys face crisis of cyber identity
THE year is 2047 and the Australian prime minister is being subjected to ridicule every day in the media. She and her family are being embarrassed by the slow release into the public domain of a series indiscreet photographs and text that are now 40 years old.
Each night she appears on television to plead yet again for her right to privacy and for public restraint and understanding.
But it is all to no avail. The story is too good.
Tabloid editors and shock jocks encircle their prey: ‘‘ The public has a right to know’’; ‘‘ It shows a side of the PM that is either genuinely no longer relevant or that is deliberately hidden from the electorate.’’
The Opposition leader does a worryingly convincing job of feigning concern for the PM’s privacy and well- being.
Strategically, he only commented on the matter once a full audit had been completed of his shadow ministry for what has become known as ‘‘ dated cyber content’’ ( or DCC to the technophiles). The facts are these. When the prime minister was 14 in 2007 she, like most of her Generation Y friends, set up a profile on what was then known as Facebook.
As we know, the PM is a strong woman now in her mid 50s, but back then she was a rebellious teenager.
Eventually her rebelliousness would morph into strident political views and as a consequence she was able to naturally thrust these views and herself into the public spotlight.
But none of this could be foreseen when she was teenager.
In many respects, the photos are harmless. Here was a weekend of drinking, skinny- dipping and rabble rousing by wilful teenagers.
The young PM documented the gathering’s highlights and promptly uploaded the best pictures on to her site.
‘‘ Here’s a picture of me and Johnno pashing,’’ are seven typed words the PM would come to deeply regret.
It sparked an international manhunt for the mysterious ‘‘ Johnno’’, who is notably not the prime minister’s current or former husband.
What happened is that access to the site was open to all her friends at that time.
A friend of a friend downloaded all images, stored them on a memory stick and promptly forgot about the ‘‘ totally out- there weekend’’, and the incriminating USB, for four decades. The PM’s Facebook profile was eventually superseded by newer technology.
The young PM also moved on from that group of friends and later expressed no real interest in documenting and sharing the intimacies of her teenage love life with all and sundry.
About a month after the story broke, ‘‘ Johnno’’ was tracked down; he immediately revelled in his sudden notoriety.
Over the years, he had watched the PM’s rise to prominence and was a little peeved at how her life had turned out compared with his.