Editorial: Scars left by social media post can last a lifetime

Every day we hear adults or our parents and authorities dole out constant warnings about what we post on social media. For most of us, those warnings go in one ear and out the other, thinking we have total control over who sees what we post. Unfortunately, it is not until an irreversible mistake is made that we look back and regret not listening.

To most people, social media is a fun way to connect with friends, but the effects it can have are much more powerful. A single post can result in sever consequences.

A group of six senior girls from Desert Vista High School recently felt these effects after a photo of them went viral last month. A larger group of students were wearing T-shirts, each with a single letter on the front, to pose for a senior panoramic picture. After the photo was taken, the six girls lined up to take a different photo, with their T-shirts spelling out a racial slur.

This photo quickly went viral on Twitter, and within days the photo had been featured in both local and national news, and even made an appearance on ESPN’s Sports Center.

The girls received suspensions and some even lost college scholarships, but that isn’t even the beginning of what is sure to be a lifelong – or at least near-future – punishment.

The choice to post this on the Internet resulted in the defaming of these girls, and sadly, the defaming of their school.

One thoughtless decision to post something on social media will stick with these girls for the rest of their lives. No matter where they go, or what they do, this picture will follow them and threaten any opportunities they come across.

This is not the first time social media has abetted in the destruction of a student’s reputation, and it probably will not be the last.

Within the last year, several social media-related incidents have lead to suspensions and expulsions of students in the Chandler Unified School District alone.

From bomb threats over Twitter, to Snapchats about a gun threat, many students have faced the harsh penalties for what they intended to be a harmless joke. Most do not consider the impact these ‘jokes’ will have on them and their future.

In fact, a 2014 study conducted by CareerBuilder, a job search site, reports that 43 percent of employers view the social media accounts of their prospective employees, with over half of them finding something that led them to not hire the individual.

Even a private account or deleted post can be found and used against you, regardless of whether it was supposed to be a joke or not.

While social media is an entertaining way to connect with others, if users are not careful with what they share, their lives can be damaged permanently.