Isn’t funny how the people we thought were crazy, turned out to be right? I remember when social media started and all of older folks saw it as a good and a bad thing. We thought it was nice that we no longer had to lick stamps, because that was awful. We also saw it adopted by the youth, who promptly made terrible mistakes (as youth are prone to do). We saw the risk, we just didn’t realize to what degree it would damage people.
I am probably the last generation that had to consider the “get punched in the mouth” risk before saying something. I’m not sure this was 100% good, but at least it caused us to pause and think (well at least for those of us who didn’t like getting punched in the mouth). If we said even half of the things that get said on social media, we would have had a call to order. In retrospect, this honor system was much more effective then our current one. Kids would defend the honor of whatever was insulted by fist to cuffs and then it was done. I’m not advocating fights. I’m just telling you how it was when I was growing up.
The transition to social media has removed the “punch you in the mouth” barrier and it is now a free for all with no risk for what you say. Or is there?
We have seen quite a few high profile people brought down by what they did on social media 10+ year prior. What they thought was a bad joke, or a youthful mistake, turned out to be a career ending. The risk of consequences is still there but it is delayed. That delay does not process in our kids brains. They can barely see past their own nose, let alone what a picture on Instagram will do to their job applications in 5-7 years.
I think this is one of those instances where delayed gratification is worse. It would better for the feedback to be immediate so action could be taken to correct it then. Instead, it lurks in the shadows, haunting their future. The more I think about this, the more I fall on the side of the crazy people who think social media is more danger than benefit for our youth. We can’t keep them from making mistakes, but we can take steps limit the impact their mistakes have by not allowing them to make them publicly on a platform that makes it available for ever.