Meet You At The Scuttlebutt

In the old days of sailing ships fresh water was rationed daily.  It was stored in a cask or what the sailors called the scuttlebutt.

As the men stood around the scuttlebutt, they told stories and life tales.  Some tales were far-fetched and some were almost believable.

Perhaps, the need to share around the scuttlebutt can be traced back to the early days when humans first appeared on the earth.  Around coastal campfires they shared their day of fishing or hunting or child rearing.

Around campfires inland they sat and sang about their exploits far and near.  So those sailors braving the unknown oceans of the 1500s carried on a noble tradition from their progenitors.

Years ago the people would gather around the water cooler or the coffee break room to share whatever was on their minds, especially if it concerned someone else in the office.  It was the social media of the day.

As time moved forward and the internet arrived by a gallant knight on a white steed, social media replaced the scuttlebutt and water coolers and break rooms.  The internet proffered the freedom to share or twit or Google whatever was on your mind.

Unlike the scuttlebutts of the past what is written and what is shared is forever embedded in cyberspace in corners where pages of information just wait to be read.  Many have found their lives affected by social media both positively and negatively.

A cute photo or a witty comment which seem innocuous may result in loss of job, position, or litigation. The aura of privacy is an illusion in an unsafe world.

Recently, someone shared with me what a person had written about the Human Resources Department where this person worked.  In essence this person’s HR Department had made a terrible blunder, and unfortunately, it affected the employee in a negative way.   Being a young person they took their complaint to Facebook and expressed their feelings.

A “friend” shared the comments with the person’s supervisor.  Well, you can guess the rest of the story.

Written comments are like grapes waiting for harvest.  They hang there on the vine until picked, cleaned, pressed and juiced.

One has to be prudent in what he or she writes on the various platforms on the internet.  Unlike the scuttlebutt where verbiage fell like the water drops from the beard onto the planks to dry and be just a fading memory, social media can become the Albatross, which results in cataclysmic social upheaval.

From secondary school we all read the tale of The Rime Of The Ancient MarinerAlbatross Albatross Albatross by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Social media and in many ways the internet is like the Albatross of the poem.

It can bring great promises and hopes.  At the same time if your cross-bow is aimed at the Albatross, then dire results can proceed into a sea of broken promises and dreams.

Be careful of your cross-bow aim (writings) on the streams of cyberspace.  As you go sailing on these high seas always expect whirlpools and gales.  Those gale winds can wreck your future without much warning.

See you at the scuttlebutt.

G. D. Williams  © 2013

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner