Thirty years ago this past week John Lennon was murdered.  Back then, in 1980, there was no internet, no 24-hour news stations, and no bottom of the screen ticker giving you up-to-the-minute updates.  No, at the time there were three television networks, one of which was airing the most popular weekly television show, Monday Night Football, when the news broke.  And all who were watching remember that Howard Cosell, during the game’s broadcast, informed the nation of the tragic events.

Something like that will never happen again.

What am I talking about?  The commonality of “where were you when…”  Everyone remembers where they were when certain events took place, whether it was the assassination of Kennedy, the Challenger disaster, or the assassination of Lincoln.  Because of the limited means by which information was disseminated, a nation received news from limited outlets…  It gave a sense of community to a nation when monumental news was received.  We all can place ourselves when certain things happened, whether it was sitting on the coffee table when Gibson hit his home run or listening to the radio when the Berlin Wall fell or walking through the halls after school when Magic confessed that he had AIDS.  We all have that “story.”

Now, though, I doubt that anything of the like could happen again.  Honestly… because I can predict where I will be when the next big catastrophe (and unfortunately there will be many) or the next big highlight takes place.  I will either be in front of my computer or staring into my phone.  Because the idea of word-of-mouth or one centralized news source doesn’t exist anymore.  The next time a celebrity overdoses, TMZ will know it first or it will be all over twitter.  Think of the last major “earth-shattering event”– where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson had died?

It is maddening how dependent we are on the internet and how demanding we are that we receive our news immediately.

Another by-product of the internet: because of how quickly news appears on the internet, it then traverses the internet in nano-seconds.  We cannot escape it, no matter how hard we may try.  Want to make sure that you don’t hear inadvertently that the butler did it?  Make sure you see the movie on opening night.

What does that mean for us as parents?  It means super-extra-super-duper vigilance.  Why?  Because we can’t control how our children hear about Miley Cyrus’ “bong” use or Katy Perry’s Sesame Street appearance or the latest cutie with whom Justin Bieber is making out.  Our children know sooner than we do.  Back in the day, if you didn’t want your child to swoon over David Cassidy, just turn off the radio and turn off the television and you could likely contain the vast majority of information.  Now?  “You can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.”  

It’s not that I am against the internet; it has some incredibly powerful and potent uses.  Sometimes information absolutely has to get there 10 seconds ago and there is no more powerful method of doing so than the internet.  It also allows access to data that would otherwise take hours, if not longer, to discover, such as the statute of limitations on fraud in Oregon or the table of consanguinity in Rhode Island.

Call me old fashioned, say I have an old soul, whatever you may think, I like things simple.  I like the idea of community, of commonality, of quietude.  And the internet not only took those away, it destroyed it.

So what does this mean for us as professionals?  Be on your best behavior.  The market goes down and so does the client’s portfolio?  You better be checking yourself on google to make sure no negative comments are posted.  Forget to bind the right insurance coverage?  It’s plastered on the internet with ease.  And don’t get me started with the second-guessing that comes when the client does his/her own research and tries to tell you how to do your job!  But the good thing is that if you have bad news and you don’t want to have to tell the client to her face, just email it; it is more impersonal that way and saves you from having to receive the backlash in person.  😉

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I am making a pledge… you are hearing it first:  I am going to swear off the internet for one whole week.  Yep, no twitter, no facebook no Linked-In no Google.  I promise, none of it.

Just let me check TMZ first and see what celebrity got busted for DUI.

Twitter:  robcohen13