While having a meal with his wife in his home town of Utica in 2007, the
pollster John Zogby struck up a conversation with his 20-year-old waitress about
privacy, social networking and YouTube. He asked what limits she set on what she
would reveal online.
struck up 使开始；建立起
set limits on 对……加以限制
"My boobs," she said. "but only on Halloween, and only for my friends."
"Well," answers Zogby, in account from his book The Way We'll Be. "I'm your
friend today, but tomorrow I might not be. Can you stop me from sharing your,
um, breasts, with the rest of the world, or with the company you're hoping will
"No," she replies, "but so many of us do this in one form or another that
employers are just going to have to adjust or they won't have anyone to
As Spring Break draws to a close, the question of what belongs in the
public realmand whom it affects becomes agonisingly pertinent
to thousands of undergraduates across the country. Spring Break is the annual,
formal Bacchanal: the riotous, alcohol-drenched recessthat launches scores of
"Girls Gone Wild" videos, clogs toilets with condoms and beachside boardwalks
with vomit and updates millions of Facebook pages.
Spring Break 春假
public realm 公共领域
pertinent adj. 切题的；中肯的
recessn. 1. [C,U]休息；休会；休庭 2. [C,U]【美】学校的假期；课间休息 v.
[T] 1. 把...放在隐蔽处 2. 使凹进，使有凹进处
But five years after Zogby's conversation, people seem to be recalibrating
their limits. A report in the New York Times last month suggested an inhibition
descending on Spring Break this year. "They are very prudish," said one
bartender in Key West. "They are so afraid everyone is going to take their
picture and put it online. Ten years ago, people were doingfilthy, filthy
things, but it wasn't posted on Facebook." It's a shame they are not having as
much as they did or would like to (I'm assuminghere that "filthy" is also fun),
but if the price for having "filthy fun" is that it is broadcast to anyone who
wants to see it, and many who don't, then it's clearly not a price worth
recalibrate v. 重新刻度；再校准
prudish adj. 古板的；装正经的；过分规矩的
assume vt. 1. 以为；假定为；（想当然地）认为 2. 承担；就任；取得
vi. 1. 装腔作势 2. 多管闲事
There are limits to how much candourwe can take or expect. With the
exception of those in the most intimate parts of my life, I don't really want to
know everything that people think about me. Nor do I want to know everything I
think about them, or share it. A certain amount of artificeis necessary if we're
all going to get through the day.
candour n. 率直；正直；公平
Increasingly, however, it feels as though those limits are being constantly
breached, either voluntarily, accidentally, by force or by cunning. With blogs,
tweets, webcams, Facebook and YouTube, there is always a mic or camera somewhere
and it is always running. Our personal diaries have become an open book. The era
in which we might reasonably expect to enjoy a conversation that is both
discrete (separate, apart and autonomous) and discreet (cautious, unobtrusive
and delicate) has passed. For the moment at least, we are all living our lives
breach n. &v. 违反；破坏
The personal fallout from all of this is clear and go beyond mere
embarrassment. Take Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student who
committed suicide after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, set up a camera in his room
to watch Tyler in a gay sexual encounter. Later, Ravi would try the same again
and tweet about it to his 150 followers. In the past, such homophobiawould have
gone no further than malicious gossip – vicious, hurtful and wrong, certainly.
But in all likelihood, it would not have been as devastatingto Clementi's
self-respect – and possibly with less fatal consequences. Throughout the western
world, teenagers – particularly, young women – are routinely humiliated by
having their indiscretions recorded and sent out to the world.
go beyond 超出；胜过
devastating adj. 毁灭性的；破坏性的
fatal adj. 致命的；毁灭性的
But there are political ramifications, too, even if the consequences of
these are less clear-cut. On the one hand, it forces elites out into the open
where their deliberations and pronouncements might be judged against their
actions. There are clearly benefits to this. The truly awful thing about the
incident between then UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Gillian Duffy shortly
before the last election was not just that he referred to her as "that bigoted
woman" when he was in his car and didn't know the microphone was on. It was that
only minutes before, he had told her she was "a very good woman [who had] served
the community" when he did know they were on. That gave credence to the popular
perception that the political class held voters in contempt. The problem wasn't
that he got caught, it was that he did it in the first place.
hold in contempt 对……不屑一顾；轻视
Left there, however, and what we have is not more openness, but more
gaffes. Obama and Sarkozy deriding Binyamin Netanyahu, and Obama blabbing his
post-election strategy for Russia, or Tony Blair's cringeworthy "Yo, Blair"
encounter with George Bush at the G8. Entertaining and illustrative, certainly,
but rarely more than that.
But on-mic embarrassment is not the whole story: the revelation of serious
information that our rulers would rather we did not have can be compelling.
WikiLeaks provides a good example. By redistributinginformation from the US
government to the world, it gave the public an unprecedented insight into US
diplomacy. Interestingly, most of what it revealed we might have guessed. But
once it was out there, it was difficult for officialdom to deny it and one could
argue that these were not their secrets to keep.
redistribute vt. 重新分配；再分配
So far, so good. But there is a price we pay for this exposure that more
than rivals the regretful blushes of a bare-breasted waitress at Halloween. The
net effect will also be that, in future, US diplomats will be less forthright in
offering honest opinions to their bosses for fear those opinions might one day
be leaked and create an incident. So, by leaking confidential diplomatic
correspondence, there is a chance of exposing hypocrisy – but that chance comes
with the certainty of inhibiting open, private discussion. This endangers the
kind of back-door discussions that made everything from the Northern Ireland
peace process to the release of Nelson Mandela possible in a way they would not
have been had everything been on display.
So far, so good 目前为止，一切很好；到目前为止还好
leak v. 泄露
Moreover, for all the talk of openness, what we post we do not necessarily
own. We are often handing over information about ourselves and our friends to
corporate entities and advertisers, which can end up in the hands of a state
that is interested in anything but openness. In Britain, the government is about
to introduce legislation that would give the police and intelligence officers
the right to trawl our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Skype
hand over 交出；送交
Whether personal or political, the problem with the very public lives we
now all live is essentially the same. People generally arrive at positions
through trial, error and experimentation. They mature by making mistakes and
learning from them. But if you feel the mic is always on, you're far more likely
to do something anodyne for the record than think of something creative and take
risks for all to see. The power to transmit amplifies not just the audience, but
Less filth. Less fun. Less candour. We are experiencing the Hawthorne
effect, in which studying behaviour alters the behaviour itself, writ large. And
while greater transparency may be one of the main outcomes, greater inhibition
is no less so.
Hawthorne effect 霍桑效应（指工人、学生等因受到研究人员的关注而增加产量或提高成绩）
To a large extent, this is a problem of our own making. Our personal
diaries are, in no small part, an open book because we open them. We put details
about ourselves out into the ether that often forfeitour right to privacy. It is
now not uncommon to see relationships disintegrate in real time as long-term
partners air grievances openly online.
to a large extent 在很大程度上
forfeit n. 没收物，罚金 v.[T] 没收，丧失 a. 被没收，被罚
The personal, the private, the privileged and the confidential no longer
really exist. The stories we would otherwise choose not to share are no longer
ours to keep; the conversations we hope will go no further may just keep
traveling. A remark may be off-the-cuff or off-the-top-of-your-head – but
nowadays, you must always assume it's on the record.