Have you ever said something you regret? I doubt anyone could honestly answer no. It seems to be embedded in our human nature to let our mouths run faster than our brain. After saying something you regret you have the opportunity to apologize, make amends, and move on allowing the sands of time slowly cover up your mistake until all is forgiven (or at least forgotten). At least that’s the way is used to be, but that was back before the internet and the age of social media.
Social media sites, like Facebook and twitter, have become a log of every thought/feeling we have chosen to put into words. We can look back at our personal history in a way never possible before. But it’s not only you who can review your personal history, as we now exist on a much larger social stage. Our comments are seen by not only ourselves and our social circles, but by anyone across the globe. This review can be done at any time, judged by anyone whether they know you or not. This means that in todays social society you can be judged by not only what you have said today, but all the way back in your digital history to your very first post.
We can apologize and move forward in our life, but at any time someone can look back (possibly years back) and bring it all up again. Sometimes ignoring your work at atonement and personal growth, but rather using these indefensible social posts as singular proof of your flawed values.
So should we be held hostage by the stupid things we’ve said in the past? Should we have that label stamped to us forever. Or can we grow and change into better people over the course of our lives. What happened to James Gunn is a perfect example. His actions were indefensible and the things he said were terrible. But he appologied for his past and has since changed his actions, and yet tweets from 10 years ago lead to him being fired from Guardians of the Galaxy by Disney. We change throughout our lives as we grow and learn. We do not always say and do the right thing, that’s a fact of life, but I would not consider myself the same person that I was 10 years ago. Hell I am probably not the same I was 1 year ago. I own every single word I have ever said, but that doesn’t mean I stand by them. I am constantly looking back at my past flaws and how I used them to heal me. Throughout each stage of my life I make a point to look back at myself with the same analysis of how I can improve.
There are layers to this problem as well. For example, what about words and phrases used in the past that were part of popular vocabulary? The Office tackled this question in season 3 when Micheal Scott says “[in regards to Oscar being gay] I would have never called him that if I knew. You don’t call retarded people retards. It’s bad taste. You call your friends retards when they’re acting retarded. And I consider Oscar a friend”. Obviously it’s a Comedy, but it’s still a good point to consider. You didn’t mean it as offensive, and maybe never realized that it even was. In the past you had the chance to learn and move on. Now those words are written with your name forever attached and held to today’s standards.
So should you go back and delete those old tweets? That is totally up to you. If they are extremely offensive or you are in the public spotlight then maybe, but keep in mind that wiping them away doesn’t change what was said. Choosing to alter the narrative doesn’t change the past in reality. My advice when it comes to your posts would be to look forward, and think through your future posts. Don’t get caught up in a quick reply you will regret, let your brain catch up to your fingertips and consider the ramifications of your comment. When it comes to others I suggest to look at a person over their lifetime, rather than singling out one point in their history. Have they apologized, evolved and improved? It is important to take that into consideration.
Social media is an entirely different experience these days. We live in an interesting and ever evolving point in time. Technology is expanding faster than we can really grasp and we often find ourselves jumping in before fully considering the consequences in the long run.
What do you think? Have you looked back on your social history recently? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!