Character assassination is a universal, cross-cultural phenomenon. It’s the weapon of choice in politics to sway voters and among athletes and celebrities to compete for advantages. But the internet has opened up an environment where any one of us can become a victim at any time. We all need to know how we can protect ourselves.
What Is Character Assassination?
Character assassination is intentional, public, sustained spreading of false information to paint an untrue picture of the target. It can be done with false accusations, by planting rumors, spreading misinformation and exaggerations. Speeches, ad campaigns, and even internet memes are common tools. Reputations are mercilessly destroyed to further the aims of the attacker. Lives are ruined, even when the victim is innocent. The stress of going through it is likened to post traumatic stress syndrome.
Character Assassination – Then and Now
Character assassination is not a new occurrence. In ancient Rome, Marcus Cicero’s brother Quintus urged him to feign friendships, lie when needed and “smear these men at every opportunity.” Queen Marie Antoinette was rumored to be at the center of conspiracies which stuck to her reputation even after death by guillotine. Throughout history there are thousands more examples like these.
What happened across history is now happening at the speed of social media. The internet offers anonymity, a place to invent “news” or just plant seeds of false ideas. Old photos get recycled with new headlines, fanning the flames of whatever issue is at hand. Online shaming creates an atmosphere of moral purity which rallies a crowd filled with outrage. In an instant, one person can become the scapegoat for an entire movement.
Right now, with a global pandemic, race riots, and resulting economic worries - people’s nerves are especially frayed. We’re frustrated, exhausted, angry, and it doesn’t take much to spark emotions into action. On top of that we have America’s president setting the example by schoolyard style name-calling and attacking individuals and groups with inflammatory tweets. It’s easy to see how character assassination has become the weapon of choice in our times.
Can It Happen to Me?
Character assassination can happen to anyone. The fact is, there are jealous, angry, and devious people out there. Their insecurities and fears drive them to manipulate circumstances to realise whatever goal it is they have.
Here are a few common instances of character assassination:
- Your success and accomplishments incite another person’s jealousy
- You were part of a business that failed, and they need someone to blame
- You are set for a promotion at work and your coworker thinks they deserve it more
- You rejected the affections of someone, and they want revenge
- You made a mistake and become the scapegoat for anyone who has ever done it
- A photo of you becomes an internet meme, with unforeseeable results
- You are falsely accused of a crime
It can happen to any one of us. How should you react when it does?
Rising Above a Character Attack
A fine example of how to conduct yourself amidst a vicious character assassination is found in Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, a Ukraine expert for the U.S. Army, when he was called on to testify in the U.S. impeachment hearings.
Rumor was that Vindman was a spy for the Ukraine. On Fox News, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo commented on the fact that Vindman had advised Ukrainian officials in regard to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani by saying, “some people might call that espionage.” It appeared to be a carefully worded comment by a figure in authority that did not directly accuse but effectively planted the idea into the minds of viewers (read Yoo’s clarification here). Espionage is a felony punishable by death.
However, Vindman preemptively struck with his credibility. At the hearing he started his speech by emphasizing his 20+ years of service as an officer in the Army and talked about his family’s ‘American dream’ and his patriotic duty. His reputation as a war hero representing the American ideals was publicly cemented.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Does each of us have what it takes to stand up to an attack on our character? For Vindman, his reputation had been established in the public eye. His service in the Army and behavior through the hearings displayed his impeccable character.
Most of us are not decorated war heroes but instead live ordinary, private lives. But if you suddenly had to prove your character, could you?
The number one way to protect yourself is to be prepared before it happens.
Reputation Guardian Is Here to Help
Don’t waste precious time trying to prove your good character while someone is carrying out a plan to destroy it. Be prepared by building up your reputation capital and trusting Reputation Guardian to safely store it for you.
Keep all of your reputation credentials secure with Reputation Guardian. If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to prove you are in a sound state of mind, your proof is ready at hand. If you get into trouble with the police, you have a solid backup of your character. If your credit rating is destroyed, you have evidence of history.
Reputation Guardian Founder Nick Preece has personal experience in being the victim of character assassination that took him 20 years to overcome. He started Reputation Guardian to keep others from going through a similar nightmare.
Do you need protection?
I want to protect myself from character assassination now.