The Queen has joined Facebook. But don't hold your breath for the drunken antics photos. Her Majesty is not like the rest of us.
So if the Queen's on Facebook, then does that mean we're living in the future? Question the second, if the Queen had had a few too many Dubonnet cocktails and started drunk facebooking, or maybe a servant takes a happy, surly snap and uploads it, would we all be shocked or just get over it?
As more and more people become part of the social networking phenomena and we see people not for their public selves but for the more flawed, and often tipsy version, it might eventually be that the bar (ironically enough) will be lowered. And so our political leaders and celebrities will be seen as normal human beings, capable of stuffing up like we all do.
Unfortunately, a drunken Facebook photo of the Queen is unlikely, albeit an amusing thought; the British Monarchy's Facebook page is limited to well-chosen remarks and public events. But the fact remains that with mobile phone cameras everywhere, anyone is a click away from public shaming. As recently occurred with a footballer, a dog and a tweet. I speak, of course, of Joel Monaghan's dog sex act photo, which as soon as it was in the public sphere went viral and cost the footballer his career. The event even warranted a tasteless, 3D animation.
But as this next Facebook generation gets into public office, becomes teachers and police officers, let's hope your average silly drunken photo will not suffice to be labelled a scandal and cause them to lose their jobs.
For now we seem to still be in "oh my God" mode. There's always a news story of someone's stupidity gone public. A Canadian politician had to resign because he had some racy photos on Facebook, teachers in Queensland were investigated because there were Facebook photos of them dressed up in schoolgirl uniforms and finally the viral YouTube sensation of the cop rapping to a crowd rhyming "homo" with "watch gay porn in slow-mo". The officer was, in fact, praised for diffusing a tense situation but was talked to about his poor choice of words.
But shock sells, especially when people are easily and without context able to judge others on a photo, tweet or status. Of course, celebrities and political leaders do stupid things but so do you, yes, you reader. Imagine if every mistake (picture of you vomiting, smoking weed or stupid text) was broadcast worldwide, preventing you from continuing on in your offline world.
In the European Union they're even considering legislating for an "online right to be forgotten", particularly making sure that deleted photos on sites such as Facebook stay deleted and do not come back to haunt their owners.
In Australia, however, there is very little in the way of concrete legal underpinnings to a right to privacy and nothing like what the EU laws are trying to do, i.e catch up with modern technology and data protection. Many websites these days now regularly stalk their readers, providing lots of info about click habits for advertisers. Even political websites, those of Barry O'Farrell, Kristina Keneally, Tony Abbott and the Greens all leave a trail of cookie crumbles, so to speak, which allow third parties to follow your online tendencies.
But maybe we should just get rid of this "privacy" business all together; just unbutton, open the fly of the jeans of humanity and let everything hang loose. If technology is just shoving us along in that direction anyway, let's throw human dignity to the wind and say "here I am, drunk on Facebook and who gives a toss".
But we don't and until the day where every little indiscretion can be forgiven as soon as it has occurred then the future will be laden with those politicians, teachers, policeman and celebrities, furiously attempting to rub their online histories clean for public viewing and plenty of gotcha moments for those that don't.
Unless of course we go with Stephen Colbert's suggestion to simply get plastic surgery, change our names and move away from friends and relatives. Even if the Queen is on Facebook, that is a future I don't particularly want to live in.
Bella Counihan works in the Canberra press gallery and writes for The National Times.