Stop equating disco to social media idiocy

Scrolling through your social media activity history is somewhat like your parents flipping through old photos: both a cringe-worthy and laugh-inducing experience. The main difference is that while they may regret their over-sized glasses, skin-tight pants, and voluminous perms, your parents aren’t likely to lose a job over their unfortunate styling choices. Revealing that they used to resemble a scuba-diving poodle won’t jeopardize their careers. Better still, the chances of these photos resurfacing in the first place are slim to none. Plus, in the odd event that they do reappear, they’re likely to resemble the photos that I take with a DSLR camera off ‘auto’: incomprehensibly blurry.

But I digress. The point here is that your social media history is well documented, and can have profound effects.

Today, there is no shortage of cases in which one’s online activity has had damaging consequences. Just this past month, Paige Shoemaker, once a student at Kansas State University, published a photo of herself and a friend wearing dark clay mud masks with the caption “Feels good to finally be a n — — -” to Snapchat. While Snapchat is supposed to be a platform for temporary content, a fellow student screen-captured her post, and published it on Twitter.

Of course, this resulted in immediate public outrage. The university was forced to react by disassociating itself from her. In plain English, she got served Hermione’s worst nightmare: expulsion. A seemingly bright young lady in pre-med put a serious curve in her career path all because she posted a photo with a disgusting caption. Is she screwed forever? Probably not. But add in the fact that her story went viral, and her chances of finishing her studies and becoming a practicing medical professional are…tainted to say the least.

You might say that this is but a rare case of young, human stupidity. Sadly, you’d be wrong. A week after Shoemaker’s fate made headlines, a group of students from the University of North Dakota were chastised for posting a photo themselves wearing clay masks, captioned “Black lives matter.”

Just days earlier, another racially charged photo that read “Locked the black bitch out” from UND students came to light. Allegedly, the students in the photograph took the phone of the individual when she was out of the room, and posted the image to her Snapchat story.

In a statement from the university’s President, Mark Kennedy, he wrote “I have been disappointed to learn that we have people in our university community who don’t know that the kind of behavior and messaging demonstrated in these two photos is not ok [sic], and that, in fact, it is inexcusable.” Both incidents are currently being investigated.

So why am I dragging on about the most recent cases of social media carelessness? Well, floating around is a saying along the lines of ‘your grandparents reprimanded your parents for dancing the disco and idolizing Elvis Presley. But now look — it didn’t ruin their lives. So don’t let your parents’ disapproval of social media and selfies stop you from posting things. Do what you want.’

Except, as previously mentioned, the potential consequences of your parents’ rebellious, adolescent behaviour were far less severe than the lasting repercussions of today’s (stupid) social media use. In all fairness, generational differences shouldn’t be ignored. Of course, just because your parents disapprove of certain practices they may not understand, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stop. But that also doesn’t mean you should ignore your parents entirely with a ‘they just don’t understand’ or ‘please, you did something similar when you were my age’ mindset.

Be smart. Think.

No, I’m not saying that you should stop using social media. That would be stupid of me, and entirely hypocritical. I am, however, requesting that people stop equating disco to social media idiocy as a pathetic excuse to act like a brainless moron.

We all understand the saying “think before you speak.” Well, the same applies to posting on social media (even more so because words that you say dissipate into thin air, but what you post can potentially last forever.)

Don’t be stupid. Think before you post, folks.

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