Your social media posts will follow you a lot longer than your followers will

So many of us have posted things on a social media platform that we may regret immediately after posting it, the morning after posting it, or maybe years down the line when we didn’t realize how poor of a decision it was to do that in the moment. To be honest, I’ve done it several times. I’ve gotten that text from my older sister that I need to delete that inappropriate snapstory or Facebook status, and while I thought she was being super lame and nagging me when she would say it, I appreciate it a lot now that you so often read about people ruining their reputation or future because of an ill advised social media post. While I certainly wouldn’t receive the backlash that a high profile celebrity would after posting something bad, you really never do know where you’re going to be 10 or 20 years down the line. We have all heard people say that once something is on the internet, it’s there forever. With the generation of kids who had access to social media in both high school and college (a time where a lot of people make incredibly stupid decisions) it will be interesting to see how this effects people’s lives and careers as they become public figures later on in their lives. From professional athletes to politicians, social media blunders have had negative effects on a lot of people’s lives and the trend seems like it will only keep increasing.

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Many young boys in America lay in their racecar beds at night dreaming of scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. They wish they could be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and hope that, one day, they, too, will be a professional football star. Well, if you’re a 12 year old boy reading this blog right now then you better figure out immediately if you’re going to be in the NFL. You need to go to your pediatrician and find out if you’re going to be 6’5”, 220 lbs and run a 4.5 second 40 yard dash, because if this might be you then you better keep your social media profiles squeaky clean over the next 10 years until you finally get that million dollar contract. ESPN recently released an article in which they explain the extent to which NFL teams study the social media profiles of potential draft prospects. In an age where ill advised social media posts can alter a person’s reputation, many teams are not willing to bet millions of dollars on players who may post something that could bring a negative light to their franchise. One NFL executive told ESPN that they use software driven technology that can pull up anything a prospect ever posted on social media, regardless of whether messages and images were deleted. Another team told them that they begin in depth researching of potential players’ social media profiles during their junior seasons of college, which is before these players are hiring agents who can have their team go through and delete any possible detrimental posts for their client. A lot of NFL players have track records of making pretty bad decisions, so I would imagine that these NFL teams dig up some serious dirt when searching through these players’ online history. It is crazy to think that instantaneous decisions that these kids made at 16 or 17 years old could cost these players millions of dollars if these teams view them as a potential liability and draft them later on, or not at all. We were once worried about not getting into college if there was a picture of us holding a beer in a Facebook picture, and these world class athletes lose several zeros at the end of their paychecks for making a mistake on social media.

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Something that crossed my mind quite a few times during last November’s election, as Donald Trump continued to make headlines with controversial tweets, was a wonder with what was going to happen in 30-40 years when members of our generation would be running for president. There’s bound to be people that run for major public offices who have inappropriate or ill-advised photos of them partying in college or tweeting about something they would later regret. Until the more recent elections, candidates didn’t have to worry about stuff they posted on the internet. In the future, however, candidates are going to have to seriously worry about the paper trail they left of the bad decisions they may have made during their younger years. There could be a bad picture of them from spring break at Occidental Caribe in Punta Cana, or a very regrettable selfie they sent to someone on Tinder. It’ll be really interesting to see how this unfolds. Whether there is a significant amount of people who have kept their nose clean and seem to be completely fit to run our country, or the generations who have grown up with social media simply don’t care if their leader had a few social media blunders, it’s something I look forward to seeing unfold.

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So, to that 12 year old who’s still reading this blog: You heard it here first. If you want to be a star in the NFL or President of the United States, DON’T PRESS SEND.

 

9 comments

  1. This is a really true and very relatable post. My parents said when I was little that there would be fights at school and teachers would never know about it because no one could just “whip” out their phone and take a video to have as evidence. They said from an earlier age that I shouldn’t even be in the backgrounds of bad pictures or post anything that I wouldn’t want to be seen on a billboard. It s pretty good lesson to live by as these things clearly are dug up all the time. Thanks for an awesome post!

  2. Great post! I was discussing with a friend last week if there will be any presidential candidates of our generation who have a 100% clean digital track record. Similar to your stance, I somewhat doubt it due to how involved we all have been on social media for the majority of our lives. I wonder though if this means us voters will be more understanding of pictures of candidates emerging that would have destroyed their presidential chances a few decades ago? While I would potentially withdraw my support from a candidate who posted offensive comments, I personally don’t believe a photo of someone drinking a beer in college would make them any less able to lead our country 25 years later.

  3. Interesting perspective here! I think you really made a good point about how we are going to have to deal with social media as a digital reputation. Companies, as you mentioned, are interested in what employees did on social media because through that research they could find an individual to be a good candidates or a negative one due to their past posts. It is interesting that posting a bad pictures, willing seeming harmless at the time, could cost you millions!

  4. Great post! I agree with @laurencondon23 that a picture of someone holding a beer in college doesn’t make them any less able to run a country in 25 years, or win the Superbowl in 10. I remember there was another post about the use of social media among college athletes earlier in the semester, and I was surprised to learn how much impact it can have on their further career. While I understand the perspective of NFL or any other business, as they are trying to minimize the likelihood of any future PR nightmares and they do so by evaluating past behavior, I also think such scurtiny gives rise to double standards and concealment of truth. After all, for many college students parties are a big part of experience, and just because some students are more open about it than others doesn’t mean they are any worse. I feel like as long as there are no offensive and hateful comments, or examples of obscene and illegal behavior, 18 year olds shouldn’t be judged as harshly.

  5. I definitely think that most people can relate to this post. As great and beneficial social media can be, it’s scary to think about how nothing ever actually gets deleted. Poor choices can haunt people forever, and definitely impact an individual’s reputation and job opportunities for the future. However during a small group class discussion a few weeks ago, we talked about how the workforce might have to adapt its recruiting requirements, potentially looking for people who use social media more frequently and establish a profound personality online. But then again, this may not actually come to light. It will be interesting to see how the impact of social media will affect our own futures.

  6. Awesome post about a very relevant topic. I think it is crazy not only that we leave as much of a paper trail as we do, but that it is as scrutinized as it is. Other commenters have mentioned it, and I think that as we move forward we will be able to see past certain things that now seem like a deal breaker when it comes to politicians or celebrities and athletes. I think you’re advise is wise though, even just thinking back to the draft last year when Laremy Tunsil had a video of him in a gas mask bong posted on draft day, it shows that we are under more scrutiny in our lives than ever before, even those of us who aren’t trying to be an NFL player.

  7. As far as political campaigns go, the last election would argue to the contrary about the importance of having a clean social media presence. I’m hoping that will change and this is an anomaly, but I won’t be surprised by anything anymore. I think going forward (especially relating to your comments about athletes), people will be more aware of what they post since we are now in a time period where these platforms are no longer new. Kids are already being recruited by colleges at 12 and we are starting to see a lot more overlap of college/professional networks. If college recruiting experts know the NFL is looking back into college, they will do more to protect their players and if you go one step back we’ll see the same for high school talent. Top talent is always surrounded by people wanting to take them to the next level.

  8. Very relevant and well-done post. This topic has been more and more on my mind since the last presidential election. You’re totally right- the stuff we post online is going to be out forever, free and available to be used against us for the rest of our lives. I’ve have posted some pretty stupid stuff in my past (recently, too) that I definitely should not have – and it’s no good to think someday that could be rehashed. Both examples you touched on – NFL athletes and the Donald – really drives the point home. Our generation and the ones below us are really the first to have such an expansive digital footprint, and it will be interesting (and a bit scary) to see how that plays out in the future.

  9. I think your post touched upon a lot of important issues that we need to know as young adults. I think we’ve all been in situations where we tested the waters with appropriateness online and had to learn from someone else what is and what isn’t okay. I think one thing that’s worth noting is that our kids are going to be able to look back and see what we were like at pretty much any time we had social media. I know I have things that come up on my Timehop that don’t necessarily reflect how I want my kids to be able to see me. It’s gonna be a weird conversation where instead of asking other relatives what their parents were like in college, they can just log on to Facebook.

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