My beloved team the Texas Rangers have been a focal point of sports media the past few days. I wish I could say it is because they recently became AL West Champs, which is partly true, however, eyes have also been directed to the Rangers social media team.
In case you missed the ESPN headline, a member of the social media team for the Texas Rangers has been fired for misusing social media. On Saturday afternoon during the UT at TCU football game, the Rangers official twitter account tweeted “Fire Charlie.# bye” All in frustration at UT’s loss to TCU (final score was 50-7), the tweet was sent out and then quickly removed from the social media site. Yet in a world of smartphones capable of screen shots, the tweet survived. The team later announced that this member of the social media team had been fired.
I am sure by now everyone has heard to be cautious of what we post on social media, however, I’m not sure people realize just how much it can affect their future. More and more people are having to explain to potential employers they lost their job over careless social media posts. Even more, people (especially people within my age group) do not realize how much potential employers track their social media.
I could name example after example for these situations. I distinctly remember hearing that a member of the pastoral search committee would check my dad’s twitter regularly while they were considering him for the position. I also remember getting lectured by my cheer coach my senior year of high school because the captain posted a tad too much about her body in a Facebook status one day. To have a more recent example, just a month ago I was in a professional development lecture where the guest speaker said her current employer watched her social media for a year before hiring her. I don’t even remember what I was posting about a year ago.
So why are we so careless with our social media? People often tend to think they aren’t hurting anyone by what they post. Society views social media as a personal form of entertainment, and to an extent it is. Yet what people still fail to realize is how social media can be a top networking tool in today’s electronically consumed world. In a society consumed by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and so much more, it is important to make sure your social media is an even playing field. Obviously all of these sites are used for very different purposes, however, there should be nothing on these sites that raise red flags.
I have both a Facebook and Instagram but very rarely do I actually login to check them. Facebook has become notorious for political debates and that is simply not me. If you wish to know my political beliefs then come with me to Starbucks, I will gladly discuss what I believe in a relaxed and non-hostile environment. But discussing my problems on Facebook is simply asking for people to become frustrated with me. This is not something I desire. Concerning Instagram, quite frankly I just do not find it interesting to see pictures of couples posting the same man crush Mondays and woman crush Wednesdays every week. I have really narrowed down what I post on Instagram to mostly travel. I don’t want people to think my life revolves around one person or one group of people. Twitter is by-far the social media site I frequent the most, yet I still get frustrated when I see my feed full of people I follow posting videos of their drunken adventures and having header photos of their “squad” flipping the camera off.
I am not saying that all social media has to be 110% professional (except for LinkedIn, that should definitely be professional), but people do need to realize that all of our social media platforms brand us in a way. Bragging about last weekend’s party and subtweeting that girl who made you mad three days ago are not ways to gain the respect of your employers. Thinking about social media in the perspective of others can really change the way you look at it.
Social media is complex and there is a lot that can be done with it. I feel it is important to remember you want your social media to make you friends, not enemies. Yet you should still be open to talking about ideas and having someone disagree with you. Social media is like the gymnastics balance beam and it is a hard beam to walk. We are all still trying to figure it out. Each platform is capable of accomplishing completely different goals, and maintaining a positive, professional demeanor will aid in achieving those goals.
I am sorry to the member of the Rangers social media team who was fired. It is a hard lesson learned, but it is an important lesson to learn. My dad told me once a wise man learns from his own mistakes, but an even wiser man learns from another man’s mistakes. Take the mistake of this person and run with it. You should never want to be in the position this person is in now. Always remember social media is how you wish someone who doesn’t know you to view you.