For the last 20 years social media has dominated American society. Everyday across the United States, millions of citizens (myself included) awake in the morning and check their numerous social media platforms to catch up on the events that took place while resting. We hashtag our morning cup of coffee on Instagram and complain about our commute to work on Facebook. Throughout the day, memes and GIF’S are shared across the office between coworkers like pens. The younger generation is no different and is in fact even more invested in social media on a daily basis. Statista.com reports that 81 percent of the U.S. population is currently using some form of social media. An estimated 3 billion people worldwide will have some form of social media by the year 2020. With this statistical analysis provided, the question that is begging to be asked in a Twitter poll is the obvious “Is this much social media a good thing?” Depending on who you ask you may get different answers. There is no question that it can be a great way to catch up with old friends, obtain information almost instantly and share joyous news about yourself or your family. When does it become a problem though? Well unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you have seen the worst that social media can bring out. Actress/Comedian Roseanne Barr was abruptly fired from her ABC sitcom reboot after she unleashed a vulgar racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Regardless of how you feel about Roseanne or about ABCs decision to fire her, we can all agree that the 100+ cast members and writers that are now out of work is a sad and unnecessary repercussion of Roseanne’s tweet.
Also this week, a story was broken by “The Ringer” writers Ben Detrick and Chris Ryan, that was as head scratching as it was comedic. The story alleges that Philadelphia 76ers President Bryan Colangelo, has operated multiple Twitter burner accounts throughout his tenure in Philadelphia. For those confused as to what a “burner” account is, the story alleges that Colangelo operated accounts pretending to be an average Sixers fan. The tweets that would be posted from those accounts would include sensitive information, in particular a failed physical by former first-round pick Jahlil Okafor. The accounts have also criticized 76ers head coach Brett Brown, former general manager Sam Hinkie, last year’s first overall pick, Markelle Fultz, and star center Joel Embiid. The latest on this bizarre story in Philadelphia is that the burner accounts may have been operated by the wife of Bryan Colangelo. As the days go by it is clear that there is more to come from this story that has taken side stage to the 4th installment of Cavs vs Warriors in the Finals. One thing that is for certain is that regardless of where this story ends up it is clear that the future employment of Bryan Colangelo is very much in question. A stunning thought after a season that saw the 76ers reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
If you are looking to make a judgement about social media and its usage based on the events that took place this week, your decision may be an easy one. However if you go back to August-September of 2017 when hurricane Harvey was raging through Houston, you may change your mind. In the aftermath of the worst hurricane since hurricane Katrina, the Houston area was destroyed to the tune of $125 billion worth of damage. The recovery effort was aided in large part due to social media. Houston Texans star JJ Watt used social media as a huge boon in raising funds to help with displaced families, home damage and medical costs. Without social media the word about the effort would not have reached nearly the same amount of people as it did. Watt was not the only athlete or celebrity to use social media as a platform to raise funds in the recovery effort. Tyler Perry, Sandra Bullock, Drake and Ellen DeGeneres all used their social media platforms to raise money as well.
As we sit here in 2018, it may seem impossible for social media to be ingrained in our daily lives anymore than it currently is. From dawn to dusk we are on our machines invested in the workings of what is happening elsewhere. The question that I will pose is a larger one. “What is the future of social media?” “Will companies one day require employees to forfeit their social media in exchange for employment?” Measures that extreme are protected in the first amendment, but it goes without question that companies are already making decisions on who to hire based on what we tweet. A prime example of that in the sports realm is the story of Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil entered the 2016 NFL draft predicted on most boards as the number one overall pick. Ten minutes before the draft began a picture of Tunsil smoking from a gas mask was posted to his Twitter account. A clear indication that he had been hacked by someone attempting to do his draft stock harm. It worked. Tunsil fell all the way to pick number 13 to the Miami Dolphins. This story is not exclusive to athletes or celebrities, it is happening across the country on different scales daily.
It is amazing to think that something that was tweeted when we were 16 years old can prevent us from getting a job at 30, but it is happening. If there is one thing that companies and corporations care about most it is money and image. This previous week has led to some major corporations taking a hit both financially and in the image department, with social media playing a large role. Sure Roseanne’s lunacy is on her 100 percent, but the repercussions of her actions are affecting thousands of people in a myriad of different ways. The question that companies are going to ask themselves, or are asking themselves already is how do we prevent this from happening to us? It is a difficult question that has legal implications up the ying yang. As time goes on I believe we will see more and more companies install “Social media policies”. These already exist in many companies across the globe but that number is sure to increase after countless examples of employees and executives getting into hot water over a tweet or Facebook post. Perhaps the answer is as simple as “BE SMARTER WHEN POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA!” but unfortunately relying on people to be smarter is most likely a losing battle. If people do not learn that lesson from the events that transpired over the last week…..#lostcause
Article written by Rich Warnock