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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The Internet bites back

    Lillie Kilburncolumnist
    Lillie Kilburn

    The Internet may pose a greater threat to your privacy than you know.

    I’m not talking about hackers stealing your identity. I’m not talking about the government spying on you, either.

    I’m talking about your roommate and your friends surfing YouTube.

    Look at what happened to Aleksey Vayner. This Yale University student made a somewhat and/or extremely cringe-inducing video resume, entitled “”Impossible is Nothing,”” which he sent to a prestigious investment bank. The video showed Vayner weightlifting tremendous amounts of weight, playing sports and dancing, while he spouted cheesy motivational aphorisms in a voice-over.

    Well, doing something cringe-inducingly ridiculous is not an unusual pastime among college students, and the story might have ended there.

    However, the video somehow made its way into the public domain, becoming, as – one of the blogs that first drew notice to the video – said, “”an overnight viral sensation.”” The video circulated first among investment bankers, was mentioned on and, and finally found infamy on, where it has been posted multiple times. Since then, Vayner has been ridiculed on blogs across the Internet, including the pop culture Web site, which calls him a “”titanic douchebag.””

    A comment on one replicate of Vayner’s video reads: “”This is why I love YouTube, fantastic public worldwide international humiliation.””

    This doesn’t seem quite fair. Sure, Vayner is kind of a tool, but that’s not the point

    So, as George Orwell predicted, we are always being watched by anonymous eyes. It’s just that those eyes belong to people just like us.

    in question. Celebrities complain that the paparazzi invade their privacy, but they’re celebrities. To become a celebrity, it is necessary to have purposefully sought fame, and therefore also the invasion of privacy that goes along with it. Vayner, however, sent this video privately. As a normal person, he deserved the level of privacy that involves only the people to whom he sent the video laughing at it. He didn’t intend for it to be released, and – even more scarily – he seems to be powerless to stop it being seen.

    The same thing could so easily happen to you.

    We all do stupid things once in a while. It is a certainty that within four years of college you will do at least one absolutely ridiculous thing. You and I expect that the only people who will see us being stupid are those around us. But if the next time you did something ridiculous, someone filmed it and put it on YouTube, you could be nationally vilified, too.

    And there would be nothing you could do about it, either. If someone merely puts a picture of you on that you don’t like, you can’t even make Facebook take it down.

    The fact is this: Since the advent of YouTube and blogs and e-mails, the potential for information about ourselves – gathered by normal people like us – to get out into the world is enormous. The government isn’t going to send the census data on your income across the country to everyone it knows. Someone at work who doesn’t like you could.

    And like Vayner, you would never know who exactly caused your humiliation.

    So, as George Orwell predicted, we are always being watched by anonymous eyes. It’s just that those eyes belong to people just like us.

    And if we don’t want to end up like Vayner, we need to be more cautious about what we do.

    First, we should never, ever write anything in an e-mail or record anything in a video that we wouldn’t be prepared for the whole world to see. It’s so easy for us to write and then press “”send,”” without considering the potential consequences.

    Second, it would be wise for us to never do anything that we wouldn’t be prepared for the entire world to see. As Arjay Miller, former president of Ford Motor Co., said, “”Never do anything you wouldn’t be willing to explain on television.”” Actually, this caution would not be a bad one in any case. It’s a good way to judge whether you’re being an utter idiot or not – “”would I be OK with all my friends knowing about this?””

    Finally, we should, perhaps, consider what we’re watching when we look at the next hilarious video that our friend sends us a link to. Sure, “”Impossible is Nothing”” is funny.

    But perhaps Vayner has been embarrassed enough.

    There are people who get paid large amounts of money to be this humiliated, and they’re called “”comedic actors.”” So let’s all press “”pause”” on YouTube, and go laugh at Sacha Baron Cohen in “”Borat”” instead.

    Lillie Kilburn is a sophomore majoring in psychology. She can be reached at

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