I'm showing my age here, but I remember when the rule around Washington was, "Think before you speak - and don't say anything you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the Washington Post."
Still good but almost quaint advice, now that people reveal their most intimate secrets on Facebook and Twitter, and some reporters tweet before their sources have finished a sentence.
Yet some of those who find nothing out of the ordinary with those practices seem surprised that the Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring social media, supposedly to look for possible terrorist threats.
Well, of course they have. And of course they went too far, which is the nature of human nature - to use whatever is available to help our particular cause.
It's why we have laws - for which there would be no need if we always followed our better angels. Bulletin: sometimes we don't.
Now that it's out in the open, I have no doubt the government monitors will be reined in. What I wonder about is the cultural changes that made social media such a ripe place for juicy and other pickings.
Why do people find it necessary to share their most intimate secrets, and their biases? Why do even good journalists feel compelled to tweet before they've had time to consider what they're tweeting?
I have no idea, but at the risk of showing my age again, I do remember being taught that the first person to speak usually had the least to say.
That lesson was a while back.