The age of getting caught

It is official. We live in the age of getting caught. Every lie, any exaggeration or indiscretion will eventually be found out and exposed. It is not just the recent confession of Lance Armstrong or the Manti Te’o saga; this has been a trend for years. I don’t believe people are lying or cheating more, I just think they are getting caught more often. 

Why are you more likely to get caught now than in the past?

  • Blogs. With hundreds of independent bloggers who can dig into any claim, without an editor looking over their shoulders, we have a new investigative media model.
  • Access to information. The Internet and the vast amount of data available on it make it easier than ever to fact check any story or find inconsistencies.
  • Nearly everyone has a camera and a video recorder in their pocket. Cell phones with cameras and video recorders mean you are always being filmed -- or could be.
  • Research as a profession.  For anyone who works in politics, opposition researchers have been around for decades, but now these firms work for private businesses and other organizations.

How do we live in this age of getting caught? 

  • Fact-check your resume. The job market is tough, but now is not the time to invent degrees or experience.
  • Have someone challenge you on every claim you make on your resume or on-line and then defend it. See how tough or easy it is to back up a claim. If it is tough, just skip it. Better not to get the job than to hurt your reputation.
  • Be nice to everyone. Had a bad day and want to yell at that waiter? Don’t. He might record it. Want to kick that rude customer out of your shop? Don’t. She might blog about it. Now, more than ever, being nice is a trait that will protect you from attacks.

Don’t lie, don’t cheat, and be nice to people. These are always good rules to live by, but none of us is perfect. If you do get caught in a lie or situation that might be less than flattering, here are a few steps to dealing with it.

  • Acknowledge any true accusation, apologize and promise to change. Don’t get mired in denials or a further string of half-truths. Don’t get into a long discussion on the details. Acknowledge and move on. The goal with this type of situation is to minimize the time spent on it by a media outlet. 
  • If the accusation is not true, push back with facts. But make sure your facts are facts; verifiable items that won’t be debated.
  • As in everything, time is the most important commodity. You want to minimize the time spent on the issue and rebuild your reputation over time.
  • People forget, they forgive, and you need to do the same. Those who try and hold the highest moral ground often fall the furthest.  Forgive so you can be forgiven.
  • Perform. If you can make the sales, win the game, or get the job done on time and on budget, people will put up with you.

Nothing is out of bounds any more. Reporters will not hesitate to ask you the most personal questions you can imagine. With the Internet and social media, we are all public figures and we must live our lives accordingly. 

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