Williams is being pilloried and lampooned in equal measure because he lied or exaggerated, depending on how judgmental you are, about his involvement in an Iraq war firefight.
In the days before social media and 24 hour news cycles, Williams’ story would likely have occupied our minds for a few days in the papers, maybe been the butt of a few late night talk show monologue jokes, and likely been quickly forgotten.
Today in the glare of the unforgiving social media spotlight, his long and distinguished career is being defined by this one moment, reduced to hashtags on Twitter and Facebook memes.
Williams’ foibles have been splashed across the Internet for all to scrutinize and will now live forever in Google and Wikipedia.
Surely, Williams made a mistake or two, but It seems a shame to me that all the good things he’s done in his long career will fade to black and the great Internet filter will leave us with the distilled version — his very public shaming — and nothing more.
I don’t watch television news. Brian Williams probably wouldn’t have entered my consciousness, or dare I say that of many of the same folks damning him or having a bit of Internet fun at his expense, but today all we know him as is that guy who lied about his time in Iraq.
And that’s a pretty sad testament to the state of the Internet in 2015.
Today it’s Brian Williams who is the latest victim of social media roulette, but it could be any of us having our mistakes spread across the world.
Before you take too much glee in his misfortune, remember that there but for the grace of social media go you.
Photo Credit: Anfuehrer on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.