We’re liars. We’re cheaters. We’re programmed for infidelity, both in business and in our personal lives.

Heard that before? The subject is rarely broken down across business change/personal change lines, but if you subscribe to “once a cheater, always a cheater” ideals it’s hard not to apply the research that repeatedly crops up about how people (as animals) are programmed for sexual infidelity to other subjects.

In this weekend’s Sunday New York Times Magazine, the author Mark Oppenheimer presented a view of the subject that’s so bleak it actually made me a little bit ill. Worse, Oppenheimer’s dissertation relied on twisting the work of Dan Savage, an author and therapist of some stature who advocates for tolerance of differences. Oppenheimer suggests that Savage’s work and words should be interpreted to mean that infidelity and cheating are the new black.

If cheating and infidelity are the new black, well, that’s incredibly bleak.

Let’s start by acknowledging the validity of the idea: for biological reasons, male animals have an incentive to spread their seed (business tenet: kill, then keep hunting). Females have an incentive to hunker down and protect their offspring (business tenet: keep existing clients happy and safe). Some females are hunters, some males more nurturing, but the concept is that men want to keep conquering and women want to protect until they feel unsafe and try to find a new protector. You get it, right?

The reason Oppenheimer’s article so offended me is that it looked at the behavior of “the pack” and a few well-known members of the pack and concluded that it’s OK to drop all moral and social pretense and just … act. As you wish. It’s OK to practice infidelity. It’s normal.

No, it isn’t.

In business, as in life, you have the right to do anything you like right up to the point that your actions are inconsistent with the good of those around you as determined by the tribunals that have power. Sometimes people misunderstand what that means. The US Senator who couldn’t tell why NBC had the right to decide which Olympic events they broadcast was one of those people. With laws and contracts in place, NBC was its own tribunal.

Craigslist gave in to politics when it stopped carrying certain racy advertisements that were being used as a means to promote prostitution. Craig Newmark is an outspoken proponent of free speech and civil liberties, but he didn’t have the stomach to keep fighting the tribunal that was in power.

You can’t even shoot video at a family event without needing to contend with the realities that surround our ever-more-public lives.

When did privacy become a factor in the question of the realism of honesty and fidelity? Oppenheimer seems to be suggesting that because we have more information not only available but constantly in our collective faces that we should devalue ideals that were previously if unrealistically considered inviolate.

Please go back and re-read that last sentence. More information being all around us is an excuse for devaluing ideals? WHAT?

Information is just information. Using that information correctly becomes harder as the information becomes more overwhelming, but Oppenheimer’s article reminded me that it’s easy to twist information to say what we want it to even when the conclusions make no sense and are morally questionable.

You’re in charge of your life and your business changes. YOU. Run them the way you think is right. And if you need support in the business and information management end of that endeavor, you can contact me here.

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