If you haven’t kept up with the news of late (and admittedly it isn’t Earth-shattering news), ESPN baseball analyst and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is currently under suspension from “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” over some things that he posted over his personal Twitter account. In one meme (and really, can we cut the usage of memes? If you can’t say it yourself, don’t use a supposedly funny picture to do it) Schilling compared radical Islamic terrorists to the Nazi Party of Germany in the 1930s; in another, he details what each component of the Confederate Battle Flag represents, apparently as a method of making it palatable for others. For posting those things, Schilling was removed from his seat covering the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, and it is possible that he may lose his job over the situation.
Schilling isn’t alone in being caught in this situation. Three years ago, Olympic athlete Lolo Jones unknowingly responded “want to race me” in a Tweet to former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand. The problem? LeGrand was paralyzed in 2010 in an on-field incident (she also backhanded him by implying he had a concussion, something that is plaguing organized football even today). In January, Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal used her Twitter account to imply that she would use her influence as a politician to thwart “white privilege.” Then there is the entertaining, infuriating buffoon known as Donald Trump who, in his pursuit (?) of being the next President of the United States, seems to at least once an hour issue a social media missive that probably should have been reconsidered. And we’re barely scratching the surface, folks…there’s a litany of things like this.
It seems as though athletes and celebrities fall into this pit way too often. In an attempt to either look intelligent, hip or funny, the people that are famous (or infamous) for what they do post items on social media that get them into hot water with most importantly their employers but also their sponsors, charitable organizations and even advocacy groups they work to support. It leaves many wondering what these people are thinking of when they get on their particular social media of choice.
Social media has definitely changed the way that the world interacts. As little as 20 years ago, it was difficult to instantly contact someone on the other side of the globe in real time. Even ten years ago, such things as Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn were in their infancy (Twitter wasn’t created until 2006, believe it or not) while MySpace was dominating the world. At that time, we hadn’t even heard of such things as Instagram, Tumblr and Foursquare. All of these social media outlets, however, have had their time in the spotlight due to somebody doing something stupid while on the computer.
There are definitely some rules that a person should implement before they decide if they should go ahead with a post, Tweet or Instagram picture. If celebrities, politicians and other important people used these – and the Everyday Joe should consider it also – then we could avoid the embarrassment that sometimes appears each time a brainless dolt who has millions of admirers does something they shouldn’t have done on the internet.
1. Does This Picture (Meme)…? – There are many considerations that come into play when it comes to pictures (and memes used by people) posted on Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat (while the photos and videos delete, they can be captured for the short period they are online and they are a permanent part of the Snapchat servers) and they all begin with some form of “Does this picture…” Let’s list off a couple here:
A) Does this picture present me in a bad light? Perhaps the photo of you doing a keg stand at that college football tailgate party isn’t the best one you want to use as your Facebook account profile picture. Employers have started searching the Facebook and Twitter rolls when people apply for jobs and, especially in the case of those just leaving college or even already in the workforce but looking for new employment, the photos and memes you present on social media is going to be something that reflects on you (unless your name is John Smith, then you might be able to get a flyer).
B) Is this a picture of some illegal or illicit activity? Just ask former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner about how a picture he thought he was sending to someone privately exploded in his face. When you are committing an illicit act (or even an illegal one), it is probably not a good idea to trumpet it over the internet. Even though Weiner’s activity was a private one, even a private activity or conversation can come back to bite you in the ass.
2. Would I Say This (Post This Picture) In Public? – This is a huge one that many overlook when they get on social media. Just because you have some semblance of anonymity on the internet (hey, people don’t know you, you’re just a pixelated page in front of them and, in some cases, you can use an alias!), it is not a license to say whatever you think without regard for common decency. Many may decry this as being “too-PC” but in reality it comes from something that we used to have to deal with on a daily basis, being a halfway decent person.
My rules regarding this part are twofold:
A) Would I say what I am about to say to my mother? Hey, Mom is always a good idea to fall back on when it comes to considering whether something you’re about to do or say should be broadcast. In some cases, Mom’s always been proud of what I’ve done, but there’s been those times when Mom washed my mouth out with soap for the things I said (literally). Although I like to think my Mom is pretty hip, she’s still older and there is a modicum of decorum that has to be upheld.
B) Would I say what I am about to say in a bar? Stick with me on this one. If I am sitting in a bar having some drinks, there are usually several conversations between its patrons. If something that I am going to say is going to push one of those patrons to punch me in the mouth for saying it, I probably shouldn’t be broadcasting it over the internet. While some people find enjoyment in “stirring the shit,” if you do it too often, you’re going to catch that fist in the jaw.
3. Am I Doing This Too Soon? – Sometimes people look to be first with a post (or a picture, even) rather than thinking about just what they are doing or saying. For myself, I’ve learned in some circumstances to use the “24-Hour Rule” when it comes to posting. The “24-Hour Rule” is simple enough: if I still feel the same way about a situation 24 hours later, then I’ll go ahead with a post or comment regarding an issue. Likewise, if I feel that the photo I’ve taken while I MIGHT be doing something questionable is a good one, then I’ll go about putting it on the internet. Through using the “24-Hour Rule,” there are many circumstances that could be avoided by celebrities and, well, everyone.
And finally perhaps the most important point…
4. Is What I Am Saying True? – This is more in tune with commenting regarding certain posts, putting up memes and situations such as that rather than pictures. There is already enough falsehood on the internet. Hell, there are sites that have sprung up, like Snopes.com or PolitiFact.com, that will let you know whether that anecdote or photograph is true or not. Use them! I personally don’t like when someone attempts to use a lie to get their point across as it completely discredits them in that arguments and future discussions.
Through usage of some or all of these thoughts, everyone – not just celebrities, politicians and other notable figures – can avoid getting entangled in such situation on social media. While the internet is a great place for the exchange of ideas, it doesn’t mean that you have to hit “Send” or “Post” for everything that you do online. If everyone implemented these ideas, it would give the mainstream media less to talk about; perhaps we would then get some “real” news on the channels rather than celebrity gossip.
(Thinking)…Nah, that’ll never happen!