What has really starting to bother me these days, is how so many people are getting into trouble because of their antics on Twitter, Facebook or the other social networking sites. I personally haven’t come across any on Linkedin yet, but I can imagine it can’t be too hard to do so there either. It’s either that people don’t actually understand the nature of the internet, or they are simply too naive to think that what may have got them,
- publicly humiliated,
- expelled from school or university
- fired from their job
in “real life“, wouldn’t have the same consequences when shared spectacularly on the internet. What makes me wonder even more, is the fact that it’s not only individuals who do this. Companies are turning to social networks for customers, and there are quite a few that have actually made things worse for themselves in their attempt to to woo people. Either way, the ease with which it happens is simply astounding.
As there are so many nice examples out there, I will start this series of posts with some very notable ones that involved women. I don’t mean to offend women anywhere by starting this way, but hey… I have to begin somewhere… So, here goes:
1. Disrespecting the War Dead
Imagine this. You are born into a middle class family. You are educated, and you were lucky enough to get a job after leaving college. So, as one does, you do something to very publically disrespect the war dead at Arlington National Cemetery. Lindsey Stone, did just that. She stood by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, right next to a sign that read “Silence and Respect”, and pretended to shout, while giving someone the middle finger. An obliging friend and coworker took a photo of this and promptly shared it on Facebook. Within hours, there was a Facebook page named “Fire Lindsey Stone“, and her job was hanging from a thread. The NGO she worked for then tried in vain to pick up the pieces of the ensuing PR-nightmare. She was indeed fired, after receiving a nice dose of internet-vitriol.
2. Tweeting the Wrong Joke
Greek triple-jump athlete, Voula Papachristou, was about to compete at the 2012 London Olympics. It was to be her first time at the Games. She had trained her entire life for a chance to prove herself, and winning a medal was her most precious childhood dream. If only she had kept her mouth shut. Actually, if only she hadn’t made a racist joke on Twitter a few days before leaving for London. As it happens in these situations, the tweet was picked up by the online community which immediately swept in to deal out some retribution. Not only was Voula disqualified from the Games themselves, but she was also expelled from the Greek national Olympic team. Some people argued that the joke wasn’t that bad, and criticised the heavy-handed judgement she received, saying that Voula is not racist but simply “naive“. Evidence of the contrary – support for the Greek far-Right was pointed out soon enough (yes, it was all over her public Twitter account), and the rest, as they say, is history.
3. Stealing a Car, Robbing a Bank & Bragging About It
I think most people wouldn’t find it a great idea to steal a car or rob a bank, but a 19-year old from Nebraska named Hanna Sabata did both. She stole a car and and then proceeded to rob a bank of $6,000. She probably would have gotten away with it (for a while at least), but she decided to make a video of herself waving the cash around and bragging about it. She then proceeded to upload it to YouTube. It’s debatable whether she was caught because of the video, since the local Sheriff mentioned that he had paid her a little visit before people started to notifying police, but what she did was pretty stupid nonetheless. The video is enough to convict her beyond reasonable doubt. Her video has now gone viral, and has received over 1,3 million views already. Now, that’s a great way to make a name for yourself!
4. Racist Halloween Party
What many people don’t seem to realise, is that racism is okay – if it’s meant as a joke. In this case, members of the Chi Omega sorority at Penn State probably thought they were being perfectly PC by hosting a Mexican-themed party, donning fake moustaches, sombreros, and ponchos and sharing a few pictures. They would be right, if only they hadn’t posed with two handmade signs that read “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass I smoke it“. Not realising that this would reach people who would find it offensive, they shared the image on Facebook. They then proceeded to tag it with some of the girls’ names. What began as a load of Halloween fun, turned into something a lot bigger. Result? The incident was being investigated and punishment was discussed last time I checked, and I would imagine that some “heads will eventually roll”.
So, what is the moral of the story?
Well, if you are about to share something on any social network, I would say it’s best to think first! Could what you are about to share, be seen as racist, offensive or at least insensitive, by a minority or other group of people? Does it border on distasteful? Come on! Have some common sense! It surely doesn’t take a Social Media expert to decide what is safe and what is not… Or does it?
Stay posted for part 2…