This week, yet another person achieved a sort of internet fame due to a mugshot. Her name is Alysa Bathrick, and The Washington Post says she's facing two felony-level charges in North Carolina.
It's a strange little story, and I think there are some embedded lessons here for all of us who deal with reputation management problems. Here are my top 5.
1. The temptation to share can be overwhelming.
Unlike many other people who are photographed and who work hard to keep that mugshot buried, Alysa shared and promoted her own mugshot.
That's right: ABC News suggests that this teen popped up a tweet about her arrest mere minutes after walking out of the police station, and she included her mugshot in her tweet. She used some snarky comments that I won't repeat here, but I'll summarize by saying that she seems a little proud to be arrested, and a little disdainful of the police.
Social media sites encourage us to share our private moments, including our successes and our failures. It's easy enough to understand how someone might include a mugshot in this category. It seems newsworthy, so why not share it?
Overall, this is a terrible idea.
2. One share can quickly go viral.
Here's the top reason that mugshots shouldn't be shared: They're popular. By sharing them, people simply add fuel to an already blazing fire.
In the case of Alysa, that ABC article suggests that her tweet has been shared more than 1,000 times. When I search for her name, I see hundreds of copies of her photograph on a variety of different sites. It's an almost inescapable image.
And let's think about how Alysa contributed to that problem: She put her photograph up one time, and since then, it's been copied at least 1,000 times. A mugshot website might have that kind of reach, and it's possible that her photo would have achieved viral status without her share.
But there's no question that her decision to share made the reputation management problem she now faces so much more severe. In fact, her reputation management problem has grown exponentially, all because she decided to be a little too open on social media.
3. The "fame" can be fleeting.
Many writers are suggesting that Alysa is somehow smart, because she's taking advantage of an incident in order to boost her own fame and prestige. On the surface, this seems like a statement that's easy to support. Her face is simply plastered all over the internet right now, and she's got thousands of admirers on social media sites like Twitter. She seems popular.
But, it's vital to remember that arrests don't happen on a haphazard basis. The charges in this case, for example, are quite serious. One analysis suggests that this particular teen could face a sentence of up to 25 months in prison, if she is convicted.
So she might have followers and she might seem popular, but that fame is likely to fade if she is indeed guilty and she heads to prison. Just ask the so-called "hot felon" who achieved mugshot fame in June. At this moment, he's waiting for a sentence, and it's likely to be lengthy. He's watching his opportunities fade away quickly.
And if Alysa is not guilty, it's unlikely that an employer working for a reputable company would want to hire someone who has been convicted of drugs charges. That little stunt of sharing (even without a conviction) might exclude her from employment from some companies. She might be popular, but she might seem a little unreliable or unhinged to the people that matter to her future.
4. There are solutions.
It's easy enough to share a mugshot, but it can seem impossible to remove a mugshot once it's hit the internet stream. That may very well be the case for someone like Alysa, who has shared her own mugshot and seen it go viral. There are just too many copies to remove in too many places. Recovering from that can be hard.
But for the average person who has just one mugshot on a few mugshot websites? The solutions are much more clear-cut. In fact, we have a suite of tools made just for people like this, and we can clear up mugshot problems in just days. Find out more about that here, and get your life back on track.