Going public with the family laundry

The SE Texas Record Feb. 13, 2012, 11:00am


By now, everyone's seen or heard about the Youtube video in which an exasperated father fires 10 rounds into his teenaged daughter's laptop computer.

Although most of us would not act out our anger in such dramatic fashion, parents of adolescents can easily empathize with the laptop assassin.

After spending a lot of time and money fixing her computer, the dutiful dad discovered a post on her Facebook page in which she bemoaned the handful of modest chores she was expected to do around the house and castigated her parents for treating her like a slave.

It was a fairly typical example of hyperbolic teenage angst, but it was there for her friends to see and her father didn't like it. He recorded a video response to her adolescent outburst (culminating in the killing of the computer), loaded it to Youtube, and then posted it on her Facebook page.

Now the whole world is privy to their personal problems.

Welcome to the Age of Total Exposure, when everybody knows everything about everybody else – not because prying governments and corporations snoop on us, but because we voluntarily surrender our privacy and seem ready to reveal our innermost secrets to perfect strangers.

Whatever happened to circumspection? Does no one remember the admonitions of parents or grandparents not to air the family laundry? Are gamblers the only ones who still understand that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?

To take a local example, what was Matthew McMahon thinking when he filed suit against his former stepmother in Galveston County Court last Valentine's Day, accusing her of running up charges on his credit card and not reimbursing him for them?

Sure, he wanted his money back, but did he not understand that he was creating a public record of a private squabble?

How many other litigants live to regret their rush to judgments? This is something we all should think about before going to court, not after.

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