The Ghost of Social Media Past

December 24, 2018

Cris E Dishman
I couldn't think of a more direct title then to characterize our prior social media posts as nothing short of haunting. It shouldn't be ghostly or even ghastly, but here we are today rediscovering the old tweets from people who weren't quite who they are today. Is it fair to hold someone accountable today for their social media posts years back?
The Academy Awards (Oscars) say yes. the LGBTQ community say yes. Religious groups say yes. Ethnic groups say yes. Companies say yes. And Society says yes. We are living in a present that expects you to be who you are from day 1 of your posts. Is it unrealistic? I believe that it is, and yet here we are acting shocked when a younger perhaps less matured and focused version of someone posts something out of line.
I've learned you fight some things, and you adjust with others. How you choose to post represents who you are. Not in a moment of time, but completely who you are.

We must accept that our words represent who we say we are to the world with no expiration date.

Should someone apologize for tweets made when they were 15 years old before they were considered for the Heisman Trophy? Society says yes. Social media is built on a few assumptions:

  1. The poster understands the impact of their words
  2. What was posted is evergreen (meaning the poster will always mean what they're posting)
  3. People never change

Those assumptions are scary because society reacts based on those assumptions. There's a contradiction that is so blatant in social media - we forget to be human and forgiving. And here we are. Hours after Kyler Murray wins the highest collegiate honor, he's having to explain and address what the 15-yr old version of himself posted. Your posts, no matter the time period written, can change things in your life.
I'm the first to admit I'm not a fan of constantly posting on social media. It takes work, and often times my focus is not on social media. So I don't force it. I know that my posts may be asked to stand the test of time. Personally I don't want to have to spend a ton of time on an old post - it's like living in the past that I hope I've grown from. Now if it could just be that simple? We live in a world that asks for your opinion. For every opinion, there is a counter opinion - that's our world, and that's everyone's right.
It's Not About Right and Wrong When Pursuing Your Next Level
I hope your eyes popped out of your head with this one. I'm not trying to tell you who is right and who is wrong. When I have been a college coach, I was looking to see if the player understood the bigger picture - that an elite athlete will be held to a higher standard, therefore his messaging must be better than most. But at 15 years old? Yes, at 15 years old. When you expect a college to offer you a quarter of a million dollar scholarship, you need to understand that the school is hitching their brand on you as much as you are hitching their brand to yourself.

Don't start what you can't finish.

This means if you can't explain the "goodness" or "righteousness" of it today, you most certainly won't be able to explain it in the future. This is not about right and wrong, it's about being effective in your messaging and thinking about who you're growing into, not simply who you are today. Should society stop expecting so much of our younger selves? Yes they should. Until then, I'm going to advise you to be smart about your messages and who you are trying to be in life. In the United States, we are all free to speak, and that means others are free to vocalize their disappointment with your speak.
Coach Dishman's Take
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter - these are tools that can help or hurt you. Don't be so quick to post something without thinking about it. Cool comes with a price. Do you want the respect of your peers today, or the respect of your fans and supporters who will undoubtedly be there through your next levels. Always look beyond your today.

The ghost of social media past is undefeated.

Ever heard the saying, "the skeletons will eventually fall out the closet"? College coaches and potential employers are looking at your social media many times before you even know they're interested in you. They look at your posts before any decisions are made. Be responsible. Stop posting, liking, or retweeting fights, you hanging out late, or anything that is offensive to others or derogatory. It may not hurt you now, but imagine receiving your highest honor and being asked about your lowest point.
Student-Athletes and even job seekers (we're all job seekers), don't lose money over a social media post. Don't place yourself in a position to have to explain a post from years ago. Kevin Hart lost the opportunity of hosting the Oscars. Kyler Murray is still apologizing for an old tweet. I'm not bashing either one of them - I hope we learn from their mistakes. Social media carries power. Make sure you use it wisely. Keep posting positively. See you on the field.
--Dish

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