Nathan’s Notes: Understanding Social Media’s Golden Rule

“Be careful what you post —nothing is ever really deleted from the internet.”

For anyone who was at least partially brought up in the age of the world-wide-web, advice that echoed principles of cautious posting was driven with such repetition into your brain that it became almost redundant.

Along with the universal lessons of “look both ways before crossing the street” and “treat others as you would want to be treated,” the warning of thinking before you tweet seemed to establish itself as a millennial ‘Golden Rule’ of sorts.

However, it seems the intensity of ramifications for poor-taste postings are only now being realized.

Last week’s Rosseanne Barr debacle saw a racist tweet lead to the cancellation of what had been an extremely successful revival of Barr’s sitcom, Rosseanne, creating a concrete example of the repercussions which can follow inappropriate posts.

Until now, these ramifications were usually carried out on a micro scale — I’d heard many stories of a poorly thought out joke leading to the loss of a part-time job or maybe a visit to the principles office.

However, last week’s occurrence showed how the choice to click “send” on social media can lead to million-dollar decisions.

To be fair, Barr isn’t the first to publicly face backlash for poor-taste posting.

The emergence of a professional generation brought up on the cusp of social media has led to politicians losing voters over posts they made as teens and college athletes gaining more notoriety for questionable tweets than their team-leading performances in game.

While it’s not currently uncommon for news sites to be plastered with headlines that expose public figures for inappropriate posts, I’ve begun to wonder how the next generation may change the trend.

In 2018, we’re 12 years into the age of Twitter, 14 years from Mark Zuckerberg’s founding of Facebook and 15 years past Myspace’s initial launch.

In the very near future an entire generation of young professionals who don’t know life without social media will enter the work force.

Even at 21, I have little memory of how we communicated before instant message.

Though even with the redundancy of the “Be careful what you post” rule, I only recently understood the repercussions thoughtless posts could have. And I don’t think I’m alone.

The Barr incident has led me to wonder how the understanding in social media’s permanency and effect may differ between generations.

While younger generations were told over and over by authority figures to think before they post, these same authority figures may not have understood their own lesson.

And while one hopes that Barr will act as an example in which others can learn from, I’m doubtful that poor-taste posts are going to disappear any time soon.

While the rules of social media seem simple, it’s becoming more and more apparent that we are still in a grey area of what can be posted and what should be kept to yourself.

While Barr may seem like an obvious example of how posting something offensive, unthoughtful or rash will lead to facing the consequences, many have already pointed out a glaring double standard—while polarizing tweets have the possibility of getting your T.V. show canceled, they can also get you elected as the President of the United States.

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