Last week, pictures of the future Backup King of England giving someone a naked Heimlich maneuver spread around the Internet, proving conclusively that being a prince is awesome. There has since followed an awful lot of chatter about whether this is a scandal, and how much of a scandal it is, and what this means for Harry, other than the obvious point, that being a prince is awesome.
"Nice one, universe!"
Something similar happened a couple of years ago when photographs of Michael Phelps enjoying weed products made the rounds. Again, this wasn't a scandal as much as it was a confirmation that 23-year-olds like to party. Sure, he was an Olympic athlete, but those can't all be killer robots, can they? He was just a kid enjoying life; sure, he later called it a mistake, but even that felt like public relations SOP. Weed isn't a mistake. It's not like he wiped his ass on a hand towel or something.
But what these incidents bring to light is the far more interesting question of who was on the other side of the camera. Probably not friends of the Olympic Toker and the Royal Ass, not per se; more like friends of friends, or assholes of friends, or some combination thereof. Someone who saw an opportunity to take a picture that would make them a ton of money. That's an asshole thing to do for money, but the really shocking thing is how often you see this happen when no money will ever change hands. People post these kinds of photos of their friends on the Internet all the time.
I've even seen this in person with my friends, on evenings when we've gathered for one of our regular naked drug roundtables. Someone will be doing something that's fantastic and hilarious, but that could possibly be embarrassing if exposed to a wider audience, like crapping into a champagne flute or reading aloud from Ayn Rand or something. And some pea brain, some friend of a friend, will pull out their phone and - Click - take a picture.
"What the fuck are you doing?" I'll shout at him, pulling my sombrero low to conceal my face. "Have you any idea what the consequences of that could be? No? Well then, unless you want me to cock-whip some sense into you, allow me to list four reasons why you should delete that picture right now."
And here's what I tell him next, as my hips slowly gyrate, building up a really intimidating momentum:
#4. It Can Actually Cost Your Friends
We're posting more and more information about ourselves on the Internet every day, just spraying it all over the goddamned place, like we're trying to mark our territory with tweets that smell like our piss. And depending on where we do this and how tightly we rig our privacy settings, a huge amount of this is visible to everyone, whether it's our Facebook profiles, our Twitter accounts or our racist Urbanspoon rantings. And that's all just stuff that we post; there's absolutely nothing stopping your friends from putting shit about you out there.
"I know Andy was drunk when he said it, but I still think the world needs to know his thoughts about how night elves control the media."
And all of this stuff can come back to haunt us. Employers have heard about the Internet, and haven't been shy about checking out their employees and potential hires. In a tight labor market, given two otherwise equal candidates, are they going to hire the guy with the trim LinkedIn profile or the one with 35 Instagrams of him doing hamster bongs? Or how about your partners? Harry's recent adventure reportedly cost him his girlfriend, which is ... probably exactly the right outcome that should have happened in this instance. But it's not hard to imagine a lesser offense that could get someone in hot water with their lady-buddy.
"No, we weren't naked! That was just a bad angle. It was a trick of perspective ... and ... a reflection ... from a butcher shop."
It gets worse. That pic of Phelps pulling on the bong supposedly cost him a sponsor. I couldn't find an exact figure for how much that cost him, but "many dolla dolla bills" sounds like a good starting point. That picture boned him in the least comfortable place a man can be boned, the wallet.
#3. You Don't Need a Picture Because You'll Never Forget This
Don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting you not enjoy your friends' humiliation. Making fun of your friends for doing embarrassing shit is an important part of being alive. If you don't feel an immediate surge of joy upon witnessing your friends getting their genitals stuck in a vacuum cleaner, you've just failed a robot-detection test, so please remain perfectly still while representatives from a mammal security agency come to apprehend you.
Paranoid scientists have been working on anti-Turing tests like this for years.
But here's the thing: You don't have to document these events, because if they are that funny, you will never, ever forget them.
I did the vast majority of my stupid youthful shit in the pre-Facebook era, back when sharing nude pictures involved rendering charcoal drawings by hand. But despite this lack of visual evidence, I have no difficulty remembering the most hilariously incriminating parts of my youth. The friend who set the dorm on fire. The pair of friends who went rollerblading down that hill sharing the two Rollerblades between them. The blimp thing. It was all fucking fantastic, and all thankfully completely undocumented, because man, do I like being able to walk the streets. Pictures of those events wouldn't do anyone any good (except for whoever insured that blimp) because everything that needs to be remembered about those nights -- the flames and sirens and tear-choked laughter -- is already remembered perfectly.