Does Tiger Woods prove Google CEO right?
The embattled golfer has only communicated through his blog. But with online gossip sites now offering rumors of sexted images, might new technology prove to be Tiger's downfall?
Tiger Woods, this week's Icarus, grew up with the Web.
Indeed, when he seemed to be flying most closely to the sun, Woods insisted that instead of talking to the police, he would only communicate through his own blog, TigerWoods.com.
News of his striking an iron fire hydrant and a wooden tree with his Cadillac Escalade was generated not by conventional media, but by Web media, principally led by TMZ.com.
While the more conventional media were still telling the story of how Woods' wife had supposedly saved him from a terrible fate, TMZ, RadarOnline, and others (the one conventional medium on TMZ's side was the more traditional Enquirer, but traditional media have always despised this under-rated institution) approached the matter with a cynic's eye, a skeptic's nose, and perhaps even a spy's technology.
Together, they produced many alleged lovers and tales of Tiger's conversations with close friends in which he allegedly confided that only a Kobe Special (the evocatively phrased "house on a ring") might remedy the situation.
And now that, according to numerous online sources, we have rumors of sexted photos of the inside of Tiger's trousers, I can think of nothing other than Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Is it mere coincidence that on the day that Woods' most hallowed reputation was assaulted by rumors not only of smutty cell phone photos, but of an affair with a fascinating porn star, Google's CEO spoke to the world from on high?
In an interview with CNBC, Schmidt declared in what some might feel was his softest, most touchingly moralistic tone: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
His statement was meticulously constructed in response to a question about the trustworthiness of the world's most enveloping search engine. However, surely his answer applies to technology in general.
The problem with technology isn't so much that it immediately reveals, but that it immediately records. That is how Google makes much of its money, by recording the preferences of those who use it.
That is also how photographs, opinions, flings, even drunken nights come back to haunt those who may not wish nor deserve anyone's criticism.
In days gone by, sportspeople, movie stars, even, perish their memory, congressmen could keep their less socially acceptable behavior on the down low because proof was somewhat hard to clutch. Of course, people may have talked. But there was no physical evidence.
Now, the minute Playgirl decides that photographs of Tiger's private life and parts are genuine, all will be revealed in its less than salubrious glory. And Woods' interesting faith in the power of his blog to bring the unquestionable truth to those who admire him will seem like faintly naive bluster.
However, as we watch this whole sad, real, painful and even slightly amusing affair (or, as it seems, affairs) unfold upon our Macs, PCs and smartphones, shouldn't it make us wonder what it is to be free?
In order to live a life of freedom, shouldn't we fly in the other direction from Facebook, put some space between ourselves and MySpace, smash our cell phones and invest in landlines, let go of our laptops and most definitely never imagine that our personal blogs will persuade people that we are who we really think we are?
Shouldn't we attempt to live in a way that no one can observe and no one, especially Google, can record?
Tiger Woods might have gone the old media route--an interview with Diane Sawyer or Oprah. Even a Roger Clemens-like session on "60 Minutes." Perhaps one of those might have garnered him a little sympathy, might have earned him a few points in a game now largely driven by a 24-hour news cycle.
But Woods believed in new technology. And it is new technology that might end up doing him the most damage of all.