In the movie Law Abiding Citizen, Gerard Butler plays Clyde Alexander Shelton, a man imprisoned for seeking revenge against those who wronged his family. In the film, he wreaked havoc on the legal system, like we all wish to do at one point or another. To a degree, that character was the embodiment of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and Karl Von Clausewitz in the digital age. The philosophies of these three iconic leaders were used in various aspects of war and business, and even today the ideologies ring true.

Sun Tzu, believed to be born around 544 BC, was an ancient Chinese philosopher, strategist and military general under the Kingdom of Wu. It is said that his victories in war inspired him to write the piece he is considered most famous for: The Art of War. Giving a philosophy of combat, The Art of War offers itself as a military treatise, devoting thirteen chapters to various aspects of warfare. It is definitive on military strategies and tactics and is still read for its offensive and defensive insights today. Much of the text is still pertinent, proving all too true that the game never changes… simply the players.

Cover of "The Art of War"

Cover of The Art of War

Sun Tzu is quoted saying, “The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

The enemy in our world happens to be those who utilize our information without discretion. These are the vultures that prey on those who might have made some indiscreet mistake that just so happened to be captured by a video, photo or a piece of public information. There are hundreds of websites that have compromising photos of individuals passed out, partially nude, flipping the bird, drunk as a skunk, flashing or even mooning. Most of those people are quite fortunate that they will most likely never see their digital indiscretion. In doing a simple search on YouTube for ‘embarrassing videos’, it was revealed that getting a few million hits was no big thing.

The above Sun Tzu quote is telling us that we need to take control of our information and begin kicking some ass. Kicking ass does not mean paying some $9.99 service that makes bullshit promises. You need to become your own warrior and philosopher of war. If all of those websites want to publish things about you to make money through clicking then you should publish back. It’s total war and How to Deceive is your weapon of mass destruction.

One serious online problem comes from you and what you put out into the digital world. Sorry people but it is true. It’s what YOU place out there that can get you into trouble. Dump the third party social networking sites! Keep in mind your photos and information can be manipulated. Why do it?

Third party: someone other than the principals who are involved in a transaction.

Why would two adults—both of whom have perfectly functional cell phones that can easily make calls, texts and sometimes e-mail—need a third party involved in their communications? Here we are in a society that is weary of Big Brother but allowing third party websites and networking sites to be the broker of our connection.

And don’t worry; we will leave the dehumanization that accompanies the third party to the shrinks. It is absurd that people have 815 friends on Facebook, 620 followers on Twitter and 432 whatever you call it on MySpace.