Temper social media rights
with journalistic responsibility
By Tom Gayda
I am a First Amendment fighter. I have long stood by supporting people’s rights to say and do what they want. But then came social media.
There is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong sometimes. Sadly, with the never-ending onslaught of posts, likes and tweets, the notion of acting responsibly has at times taken a backseat.
It isn’t my intent to curtail one’s First Amendment rights. However, I think we must all do a better job showing future adults that not everything in life is post-worthy and what one posts can follow a person for life.
There are responsibilities that come with one’s rights. And while one can basically say anything he or she wants on social media, that isn’t always the smartest thing to do. I warn my own students to think about the image they are projecting by their social media use. Dropping “f-bombs” like nothing might make one hip with their social circle, however others who see such warfare might think twice about interacting with the offender.
I also ask my students to tell me how it’s going to be when their kids are old enough to take advantage of the latest Internet craze and can see everything their mom or dad posted when they were teenagers. Ouch! (Never mind the dancing!) Life went on for millions of years without people sharing with the world their every innermost secret. Somehow we can survive with fewer posts.
Schools patrolling their students Internet activities hardly seems like a good use of time, however it is important kids know there can be consequences to what they post, be it legally or not. Many folks tend to get extra courage behind the safety of their smartphone. We can support free speech and teach how to use it responsibly.
Times are changing and so do the ways we communicate. Think first, and remember, everything you say today will be out there forever.