In today’s social media sphere, Andy Warhol’s quote that “in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes” should have an amendment that adds “… and have to apologize for it for the rest of their lives.” The availability of worldwide broadcast of any impetuous, ill-advised or outright sophomoric rant on social media by anyone equipped with an internet connection has triggered a regrettable parade of viral clowns whose only hope for a somewhat normal life is to have plastic surgery and move to Nuuk, Greenland.
Prepare for the Death Threats
When two Gainesville, FL girls recently made the decision to post a rabidly and incoherently racist video on YouTube, they lacked the prescience to realize that the simple act of uploading would soon result in their being forced to drop out of high school and receive police protection against the avalanche of death threats. The Gainesville girls are not the first nor will they be the last to post racist videos that they will have to live down for all eternity: A UCLA student’s tirade against Asian cellphone addicts in the Library added “ooooh chingchong linglong tingtong” to the American vernacular.
Gallery of Numbskulls
However, racism is not the only social media vector whereby foot gets permanently embedded in mouth:
- Judith Griggs – Insisted that everything on the net is public domain to justify her theft of a freelance writer’s work
- Paul Christoforo – Promotional customer service person who mercilessly flamed a complaining customer
- Kenneth Cole – Tied the Cairo uprising with the new spring fashion collection in a tweet
- Ashton Kutcher – Railed against Joe Paterno’s firing with no knowledge of the Penn State child abuse scandal
- Gilbert Gottfried – Cracked jokes at the Japanese tsunami disaster
- Bob Parsons – CEO of GoDaddy posted a video of himself shooting an elephant
- Jabar Gaffney – Washington Redskins player tweeted a fan urging him to “kill urself”
- Chris Brown – Pretty well everything he’s ever posted
- Anthony Weiner – New York congressman lived up to his name by tweeting photos of his… er… you know
… and even the official Chrysler Twitter account chastised Detroit motorists for not knowing how to drive, complete with f-bomb.
The Eternal Tattoo of Social Media Indiscretion
It is quite obvious that none of these social media pariahs could possibly answer the question “what were you thinking?” Empowered and/or hypnotized by the ability to have their skewed perspectives find a global audience, they immortalize spurious thoughts that should never have made it past the second neuron. Perhaps it is because they temporarily phase-shift into a dimension where uttering stupidities is a positive; or they think they’re being funny; or they suffer from terminal anger management issues; or they believe that their audience will agree with them “for speaking the truth” in what they see as an overly politically correct world. Whatever the justification, the result is that their impulsive mistake will identify them forever, much as an ardent romantic who tattoos a lover’s name across their foreheads and proceeds to break up with them.
Anyone raised in the social media generation might see online discourse just as integral to daily life as any other form of conversation, therefore failing to grasp the essential difference of stating a bigoted, ignorant, impetuous or otherwise socially unacceptable comment over the breakfast table for the benefit of a sibling versus online where millions may reprimand and castigate you. Placing anything online, whether it be a blog comment or a YouTube video, will exist for all eternity as a testament to either your wisdom or your buffoonery. Just like a youthful prank can result in a criminal record that will haunt you in your future job searches, your social media indiscretion can imprint you as a dolt schlub until you escape this mortal coil.
About a year ago, Google’s CEO stated that people should be automatically entitled to change their names in order to detach themselves from their social media histories. The Gainesville girls and many other social media lepers might find that solution to be preferable to living the rest of their lives facing “oh, you’re the one who…”