You post a Youtube Video, and within 24 hours it goes viral, reaching over a million views over the weekend. Pretty good results, right? Well, maybe. Not so much for Alexandra Wallace.
Alexandra Wallace, a UCLA student posted a youtube video containing her personal views on Asians containing racial stereotypes and remarks against Asians in the library getting phone calls about the “tsunami thing.” The video took off overnight, getting reposted, then remixed into song, and generating hundreds of video responses, ranging from parody to rage.
I’m not going to link to the video, you can currently find links to the video and it’s responses all over the net with a simple google search of the girl’s name. Suffice it to say that it’s an embarrassment to the UCLA community and to all Americans. The other thing the video demonstrates is how not to build your reputation online.
Tips for Building Your Online Reputation
Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts
At this moment, I bet Amanda Wallace is the most hated person on the UCLA campus. I imagine she can’t show her face in public without getting pointed out and harassed. There are reports that she’s had to go into hiding due to receiving threats. There are also reports of UCLA considering formal disciplinary action against her for her remarks. These are just the current consequences. Just think how impossible it will be in the future when she needs to find a job. Her employers may not want to touch her with a 10 foot pole. She may be facing the consequences of her actions for years to come.
In this day and age, everyone needs to be aware that there is always someone watching. Police officers are keenly aware of this fact when they see videos of police misconduct posted on the net. We are experiencing a technology revolution on the scale of the invention of the printing press. It’s not just that there’s always someone watching, nowadays, it’s everyone watching.
The internet is open to the masses. It is one of the most efficient ways of communication. Once you put something up on the internet, you must assume that it will be within reach of millions. The internet is no longer as anonymous as it used to be.
The second thing to remember is to assume that anything you do is going to be recorded for posterity. If you do something, keep in mind that people may be seeing recordings of your actions in 20 years. Whatever you’re doing, is it something that you want to share with your family 20 years from now?
Here are a couple good rule of thumbs to follow when managing your online reputation:
- Think before you speak- This is a lesson we often teach our kids, but it’s so much more important now than ever. Just take some time and think on the affect of your words on others.
- Before you post a message have someone review your post or tweet and give you some feedback
- If you are too embarrassed to have someone look at your post, then you probably shouldn’t send it out in public
- Don’t post or tweet anything that you would say in public. Think of it this way, if you were giving a speech in front of a group of people at a professional conference, is your post something that you would say in your speech? If not, then think twice before you put it up.
Managing a reputation is a full time job. Ideally, one should have the strength of character to comport themselves with dignity in private as well as in public. But with the internet, there is a very fine line between private and public. It’s best to assume that your actions will always be in public and behave accordingly.
Some Final Thoughts and a Story
I couldn’t finish this post without some of my final thoughts on the video’s statements against Asians. This is slightly off topic, so you can stop reading if you want.
I’ll preface this by saying that I am Asian American and I’m proud of my culture. One of the remarks in the video was this concept that Asian children aren’t taught to care for themselves because their families will show up and cook and clean for their kids who are students at UCLA. Being an Asian, I can imagine a family gathering together to care for their sons and daughters. However, this doesn’t arise from any form of helplessness. It arises from a sense of family community.
I think the Japanese during this time of crisis have amply demonstrated that Asians are far from helpless. I heard a news story yesterday that several hundred countries have offered aid to the Japanese people. They only accepted help from 15 countries. The reason is that they don’t want to be a burden on other countries and want to do their best to solve their crisis on their own. They have really gathered together to show their strength and dignity during this time. I think it’s a great demonstration of human spirit.
So, if a people who are suffering earthquake, flood and nuclear disaster try to tough out their devastation on their own, why does that same culture have their whole family come out to help out their sons and daughters when they are away at school?
I think the answer lies in the sense of community that is ingrained in the asian culture with respect to their families. Bloggers can probably relate to this sense of community since we all participate in a living, breathing, social web where the culture is to share and give back to the blogosphere.
My Father used to tell me a story that demonstrates the philosophy of Asians regarding family:
The Father tells them to each get a single chopstick. Then he asks them to break the chopstick.
The sons looked questioningly at each other, but obeyed their Father’s request. Each of them took their chopsticks and snapped them easily.
Then the Father says, “now gather 11 chopsticks together for me.” So they obeyed and gathered up 11 chopsticks.
The Father tells them to hold all 11 chopsticks together in a bundle. “Now hold them together and try to break them.”
So, the sons tried to break the 11 chopsticks held together. They passed it around to all of them, but none could break the chopsticks when held together.
The Father tells them, “Each of you individually are like these chopsticks. When you stand alone you can break under the pressures of the world. But if you stand together as a family and support each other, no one can defeat you.”
From then on, the brothers always stood together through thick and thin and each of them rose to become successful.
You see, when we look at our families, we don’t see individuals. We see a single unit. As a family, we don’t see helping each other out as a sense of weakness on the part of any individual, we see it as helping out the family as a whole.
When the hand feeds the mouth, you wouldn’t say that the mouth is weak for needing help. You would see it as the whole body working together to feed the person.
I don’t say these final thoughts to imply that Asians are the only ones who care about family. Of course, every culture has sayings about the strength of family. I’ve also heard the saying “blood is thicker than water.” That’s a saying from western culture. I believe all cultures respect family. I just wanted to put down some of my thoughts regarding the video specifically.
- UCLA’s Alexandra Wallace Planned More Fun, Racist Rants (laist.com)
- Alexandra Wallace Apology: UCLA Student Sorry For Anti-Asian Rant (nowpublic.com)
- Where (Again and Again) Alexandra Wallace Got it Wrong (beneaththetangles.wordpress.com)
- Alexandra Wallace is Leaving UCLA (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Who Is Alexandra Wallace? (Video) UCLA Student Asian Racist Rant (nowpublic.com)
- How Not to Go Viral: Taking a Lesson from Alexandra Wallace (eclecticfinance.wordpress.com)