Think twice before posting online

Published 6:03 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Carolina Panthers are off to a strong start with four wins in five games to begin the NFL season. Something else has been brewing in Charlotte for the past week, though.

Video from quarterback Cam Newton’s press conference last week documented him laughing at female Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue after she asked a question about the route running of one of Newton’s receivers.

And a social media firestorm ensued. One of the developments afterward came when a Twitter user dug up 5-year-old racially insensitive tweets from Rodrigue.

Newton apologized for his remarks. Rodrigue apologized for her tweets. Both are, to some degree, at fault. Everyone should move on from what is, in the grand scheme of things, small potatoes compared to other events like the massacre of 59 people in Las Vegas last week.

But that’s not how the world operates nowadays. The fiasco was a centerpiece on ESPN. Twitter users have drawn lines in the sand, refusing to let the issue die.

That said, there are tons of lessons to be learned from the entire situation. Let’s delve into the use of social media and how a few posts made in one’s adolescence can bring up problems down the road.

There are lots of questions to be asked about whether a 19- or 20-year-old can or should be held accountable for the stupid things he utters, whether verbally or through social media. Regardless of one’s stance on that, there’s no denying that Rodrigue’s tweets from her college years will affect her professional career.

Let this be a cautionary tale. Think before posting something to Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform. There may be just a handful of folks that follow a person’s profile, but social-media users should act as if they are saying something aloud to an entire group.

Should it be said in front of one’s entire student body? No? Then it probably doesn’t belong on social media, either.