Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni: Privacy lost in cyberspace

Once it's out on the net, your moment of indiscretion can linger forever.

Illustration / Anna Crichton
Illustration / Anna Crichton

Jeepers, the NRL Integrity Unit must be the most overworked body in the history of professional sport.

Never more so than this week, when it was charged with investigating the "sex selfie" between Shortland Street star Teuila Blakely and Warriors star centre Konrad Hurrell.

Am I missing a beat here? Because it seems to me that - initially, anyway - neither Blakely nor Hurrell was overly upset about this private exchange being filmed or uploaded to Twitter. Blakely went so far as to confirm speculation that she was, in fact, the woman in the grainy shots.

How this mini-scandal might go down with older, more conservative members of the women's magazine audience who are regularly treated to her rags-to-riches tale is another story.

But is there any reason for the Integrity Unit to put aside their more, let's say, compelling work on doping and drugging in the code to look into this matter - a matter that is also exercising the minds of Warriors management? Surely we aren't still entertaining the fiction that professional sport is entirely family-friendly?

Perhaps it goes to show that we slightly older citizens still don't really "get" social media, and continue to scratch our heads in puzzlement that anyone would think being filmed in flagrante with a casual partner and disseminating that footage far and wide could be anything but horrifying.

I count myself in that crowd. While I don't begrudge others the right to do it, I find the whole idea about as appealing as foot and mouth disease. I suppose I lie, though, as I have once posed naked for a portrait - and that's probably the antiquated version of the X-rated selfie.

But in best risk-averse fashion, I posed for my husband, and the picture has never seen the light of day - though not because it was overly explicit.

We had discussed the idea of such a work of art, and he reminded me one day during half-time of the State of Origin Grand Final (where did I find such a Casanova?). Reclining on the bed, I adopted what I believed to be the appropriate pose: stomach flab securely pinned back, legs elongated, eyes suitably alluring. But as it was a reclining shot, my feet were at the front of the picture, and that's the feature the artist chose to tackle first.

My feet are, let's just say, one of my least captivating features; my husband often reminds me I could have appeared in The Hobbit without needing foot prosthetics. He studied them closely, grimaced, and set about bringing them to life on paper. When play resumed, he abandoned his paper and pencil and I looked at his depiction.

I admit it wasn't the finished product, but all I could see was a hideous pair of feet taking centre stage, and somewhere off in the distance, the rest of the body and my tiny, forlorn face, as though I was an illiterate villager who had been asked to take off her clogs and demonstrate her feet for a wandering photographer collecting freak-show exhibits.

My horrified tittering caused the artist to display his artistic temperament ("foreshortening!" he bellowed), and the whole assignment was consigned to history.

Unlike, I suppose, the Blakely-Hurrell "sex-selfie". While it was soon taken down from social media, like the millions of others of its ilk, it seems set to stubbornly remain a part of cyberspace forever.

- NZ Herald

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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