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Hitting home

Opening your big social media mouth


Well, if you ever needed a week to confirm the potential dangers of social media, last week should have been it. To recap:

  • Denver Bronco second year player Will Parks becomes the talk of talk radio for three days after posting unflattering video of a quarterback from Broncos practice on SnapChat. For those who don't know, that's a major no-no.
  • Comedienne Kathy Griffin loses her CNN New Years Eve hosting gig following a firestorm she created by posting a picture of herself holding up a prop made to look like the bloody, severed head of President Trump
  • President Trump ... apparently, still has control over his Twitter account
  • Longtime Denver sportswriter Terry Frei lost his job with the Denver Post after posting a racist tweet in the aftermath of a Japanese driver winning the Indy 500

I have spent, well, WAY too much time over the last five years or so on social media. It has allowed me to connect or reconnect with scores of people from other parts of my life that I otherwise would have no way to connect with. And it has allowed me to engage in a great many deep, philosophical and entertaining debates. So, in those regards, social media has largely been a great good for me.

Other than that whole wasting huge chunks of my life thing.

But, this week really highlights how an undisciplined or careless contribution to social media can be fatal to your career. Great lesson for new graduates, by the way!

Terry Frei is a writer who I have read and listened to for years, and I find him endlessly interesting and entertaining. But he, having spent the last couple years telling the stories of World War II vets, tweets something, frankly, stupid, on Memorial Day about a Japanese athlete, and it's game over. You can't pull that back or delete it - the internet is forever! I really believe that Frei is a good guy and not a racist, who has been abjectly apologetic, and he has 40 years of public life to substantiate that. But those three seconds it took to tweet just erased all of that.

Kathy Griffin has not, in my opinion, been funny for about 20 years now. Honestly, I don't get it. Frankly, I feel kinda bad for her - the sheer vulgarity of what she did seems like a cry for relevance, a desperate plea for people to pay attention to her. To say her career is now over is probably being too kind to whatever career she, er, enjoyed before this week.

I don't know what will happen to Will Parks. What I do know is professional sports teams don't go out of their way to hold on to minor contributors who cause them serious headaches. And, for the love of Pete, would somebody PUH-Leeze take away the President's phone?

These are all very public, very glaring examples of when social media goes bad. But these are probably just the tip of a very large iceberg. The website "FamilyEducation.com" has an article about the 12 apps every parent should know about - these are the iceberg. The list includes everything from an app that allows complete anonymity (a bully's best friend) to an app specifically designed to help 20-some things "hook up" (but whose privacy policy allows kids as young as 13 onto the site) to an app whose link to teen suicides was so strong that schools in England asked kids to stop using it. And to ask adolescent psychologists about social media is to invite a "Sum of All Fears" type of soliloquy.

I don't want to be all "get off my lawn" about this stuff, but there's some scary stuff out there. Maybe - I hope - the discomfiture of celebrities finally starts to clue us average folks in to the potential for harm here.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com


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