I was in San Diego on business when "Carlos Danger" became a thing. As in, former Rep. and current New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (nominative determinism at its best) tweeting more snaps of his "little Congressional aide" to another woman who—whoops—wasn't his wife, this time under the handle Carlos Danger. The sleazy romance novel handle became a monster Twitter hashtag and I had a ball following the story. I even ordered my very own Carlos Danger shirt (see above).
But the whole thing also made me reflect on how fast a story can become, for better or worse, a viral meme thanks to the "discover and pounce" style of the Internet—especially the mobile Internet. Today, the default mentality of millions of users (especially people under 30 who live on their smart phones and tablets) is to tweak, tweet and twist stories and personalities that run afoul of accepted behavior. The response is instantaneous; the mentality is ruthless. If you can be mocked, you will be. If you can become Daily Show fodder, you will be.
That's not necessarily a bad thing; some people deserve to be mocked. Weiner created Carlos Danger; now he gets to deal with the Butthead to his Beavis. But the story is an effective reminder at how careful we all need to be with what we say and how truthful we are to who we are, especially if we're online. Like it or not, we live in a private, always-on world. Think twice before you click "Post."