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David Petraeus knows about public image, but he believed an alias online was not public

Men my age have been taught the we should have two personalities. There is the ‘professional’ persona that we wear in our public/business life, then there’s the ‘real’ personality that we only show when we are off the stage. That worked when there was a clear division between public and private life. For most of my life I knew that the person I knew at work was not the same as the person who was in the backyard with a beer in his hand.

A baseball cap and polo shirt don’t mask the person, why would an email alias?

The Internet changed all that, but somehow older men didn’t get the memo. When we found out we could create an email account like ‘secretagent007’, ‘mysteryman’, ‘mrinvisible’, etc., we really believed we could say anything we want, do anything we wanted without anyone knowing who we really were. I admit, it is a seductive concept that our professional/public persona could remain unknown online, but the fact is that anything we say or do online is recorded in history and will always be attached to us. 

The Petraeus Lesson is simply this: USE YOUR REAL NAME EVERY TIME  EVERYWHERE. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked in that YOU are smarter than every one of the 7,079,446,910 people on Earth. Never, ever, ever log on, create an email, or register for a social media site using a false name. If you have an email that doesn’t use your real name then get rid of it and get another one. This is 2012, and you need to know that what you say and do online is public. Period.

I know we older, white males were raised to believe in two personas, but it is a myth that we need to get over. It’s not a privacy issue, it’s a ‘am-I-smart-or-am-I-stupid’ issue.