Perils of social media

David Epps's picture

Several days ago, a news outlet reported that a company now exists which offers businesses a unique service: the company will scour the social media on behalf of employers to discover what job applicants and employees are posting, and have posted, on social media sites such as Facebook and My Space. Apparently, this company has the ability to even discover postings that have been deleted.

This should cause great distress to some people. Most people, perhaps, will not care. Their postings are benign and not likely to cause them harm or embarrassment. There are others, however, who probably should never have a social media account.

It doesn’t take a great deal of looking at profiles to discover people who post dirty jokes, provocative photographs, vulgar language, hateful comments, and irresponsible accusations.

For reasons unknown to people with discretion, some people go as far as to air their dirty laundry, trash a boss, smear coworkers or fellow students, rail on a spouse or ex-spouse ... well, you get the idea.

The social media — or at least the irresponsible use of it — has, in my opinion, contributed to a loss of civility. People can fire off an angry email (yes, I count email as a form of social media) that, if they took time to think about it, would never normally be sent.

There was once a time that a vicious letter could be composed at night, placed in the mail box, and still be retrieved in the morning before the mailman came to pick it up. There was a built in “cooling-off period.”

No more. Now, people can fly into a rage, vomit their emotions all over a page and hit “send” before their good sense returns. Even worse, comments can be posted on a social media page and raw emotions and vitriol are instantly exposed to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people. If the poster cools off quickly enough, he or she can delete the posting and hope that no one saw it.

Many newspapers and blogs offer the opportunity for readers to post comments on-line. Unfortunately, the more extreme comments are often posted anonymously — people can say whatever they want to say about whomever, and they do not have to be accountable for their words. All that may change eventually as services become available that can uncover the identities of posters who fire their shots from behind the concealment of a screen name.

Now, here comes a company that promises to resurrect these deleted (or what was thought to be deleted) rantings, postings, and photos from the cyber-graveyard. Like a zombie, these items have the potential to return to visit havoc upon the undisciplined life of the poster.

One way or another, it seems, eventually people reap what they sow. Responsible, mature people can find the social media to be a great asset as they catch up with family and friends, share photos and special moments, conduct business, and use this technology with restraint and respect. Those who post every unfiltered thought and word just may find themselves unemployed — and friendless.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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