“In DC, I met an African American seventeen-year-old named Shamika who found that her peers loved to use old status updates and point to them in a new context in order to “start drama.” She found this infuriating because the posts that she wrote a month ear- lier were never intended as fodder for current arguments.”
During my reading of it’s complicated, this quote particularly caught my attention, due to how many real life examples of this occurring in the real world exist. For instance, a few weeks ago ESPN started a new show called Barstool Van Talk which featured two bloggers about that day’s events in sports. However, after the first episode aired, old tweets began to surface of hurtful tweets sent by the owner of the company, Barstool Sports. As a result, ESPN canceled the TV show and even completely amended their internal social media policy. However, this points to a larger issue which is that the distinction between what is socially acceptable and what is not socially acceptable changes on a daily basis. While that is most likely a good thing, as we become more tolerant of others and more respectful of their beliefs, that creates a unique predicament with old social media posts that were once considered “socially acceptable” but now are deemed unacceptable. It’s one thing if someone tweets about something that can be construed as offensive in this time, but how do we handle older posts, often six or seven years old that are instigatory. For me, this causes me to take a closer look at the costs and benefits of posting on social media at all. I rarely tweet at all, and if I do it is simple commentary on sports. I worry that something I say because I am feeling a certain way at one point in time could be used against me in a job interview or something in the future. Perhaps I am too niëve and I have nothing to be worried about. But maybe I do.
Even yesterday in a group chat with many of my friends, people began to post embarrassing photos from many years ago on Instagram. While none of these photos were offensive or anything like that, it obviously hurt the person whose photo was being poked fun at. While there is no definitive answer to the age old question of whether social media is “good” or “bad” this certainly adds another wrinkle when thinking about dangers of social media.