When he sat down to testify before some of the most powerful leaders in our country, it was evident that Mark Zuckerberg had become a victim of his own ego. An image of a man who betrayed his followers and fans to benefit himself, has come to replace the persona of the cocky Harvard dropout who became a big success.

This is his fall from grace, the disintegration of his reputation.

How does this happen? How does someone damage their reputation and lose the respect of the public?

Sometimes, men and women fall through no fault of their own. They are simply the victims of societal persecution because they’re different, and society is unable to accept their difference. This was the case in 1997, when Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian on her self-titled sitcom The resulting backlash caused her to lose her show, and damaged her career and reputation for years.

Today, DeGeneres is rightfully recognized as a hero in the movement for LGBTQ equality. However, her fall from grace in 1997 was the result of nothing more than a society unable to accept her.

While DeGeneres’ fall is not uncommon, more often we often see people with big egos, like Zuckerberg, fall as a result of their own bad decisions. The most common reason people gain a bad reputation is not because they are different and society can’t accept this difference. But, rather because their ego infiltrates their head, they forget who they are, they lose their morals and make bad decisions.

We see this almost every day. In fact, the majority of stories on the news are about people who lose their morals and make poor choices. Last fall, the news became dominated with stories about powerful men losing their jobs because they used their power to assault young women. Men such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer allowed power and status to get to their heads. As a result, their reputations will forever be tainted and their names will be synonymous with the word “scum.”

Just this week, former FBI Director James Comey has found himself back in  headlines after his tell-all interview with George Stephanopoulos to promote his new book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

Two years ago, Comey was an unknown figure among the American public, but well respected in Washington, DC. Because of the choices he made while handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and in the first year of the Trump administration, though, his reputation has been damaged.

While many Americans view Comey as a hero for speaking out against President Trump, he has now subjected himself to dirty and salacious gossip by publishing this book. He is not looking speak out against the administration, he was already given that chance last June when he testified before Congress. Now, he’s simply looking to sell his story to earn money and stay relevant, and his status as a respected public servant has been erased.

As for Zuckerberg, he will now spend much of his career making up for the damage he caused. While people like Weinstein and Lauer will never be able to make up for their wrongdoings, people like Zuckerberg still have a chance to redeem themselves. My suggestion to Zuckerberg is that he continue to testify before world leaders, apologize for his failures and accept any punishments that come his way.

People can fall from grace, damage their reputations and hurt others. However, in most cases, redemption is not off the table. The ability to own up to your failures and make up for your mistakes is the true test of a person’s character. People will always screw up and make poor decisions, but the ability to make up for your failures is what separates the big ego jerks, from the good people who simply make mistakes.

finfrobd@miamioh.edu

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