What Cecil the lion’s death reminds us about the social age

There’s no longer a meaningful distinction between our personal and professional lives. We should take care to protect our hard won reputation from poor decisions we make in our personal lives – writes Scott Guthrie

In the social age there’s no longer a separation of the personal from the professional. Our online lives are not distinct from our day-to-day lives. Both ebb and flow into one fully-rounded self. The most fundamental virtues and principles in private and in public are in fact the same. Life is a whole and must be approached as such.

Social media is an indiscriminate amplifier. We’ve always had opinions. We’ve always shared those opinions with family and friends. The difference today is that the social web has given us all a voice to share our opinions globally. If we see something we like, we’ll share it online. If we see something we don’t like, we’ll share that too.

Walter Palmer, the Minnesotan dentist who is said to have killed, beheaded and skinned Cecil the lion, a well-known fixture of a Zimbabwean game reserve, is the latest in a long line of people who have paid the price online for outraging people through their actions.

Reviewers in their hundreds have taken to Yelp to damn Palmer’s professional world, his dentistry – River Bluff Dental – for his hunting of big game in his personal time.


The story of Cecil’s killing near Hwange national park over a 40-hour hunt has been picked up, too, by major news outlets such as the BBC, the Telegraph, and CNN,

Palmer, it seems, has gone to ground. River Bluff Dental is closed for business – a note pinned to the door referring inquiries to a PR firm. He is not answering his door at home. He has released a statement responding to outrage the hunt has caused.

The social web is made up of conversations on blogs, on forums and social networks and on review sites. They put us firmly in the driving seat of an organisation’s reputation.

We must take more care to protect our companies’ hard won reputation from poor decisions we may make in our personal lives. Today whether we like it or not the fact is that we are all judged by that portion of our lives that ends up in the public domain.

Put simply what happens in Vegas (or in this case Hwange) no longer stays in Vegas when someone has an opinion about you and decides to share it online.

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