In the aftermath of a politician or celebrity posting an offensive, moronic tweet, the same thing always happens: Self-styled social media "experts" rush to point out the fact that tweets are permanent, regardless of whether they are deleted, and that maybe it's a good idea to think twice (or let the Ambien wear off, if you happen to be the first person on planet earth to suffer the side effects of bigotry and racism after taking a sleeping pill) before you tweet something.

Here's the thing though:

That advice is only slight less reprehensible than the tweet itself.

What that advice says is that if, for example, in your heart you really think African-Americans are comparable to apes, then you should think twice before posting it because the post will remain as a screenshot long after you've suffered the consequences.

Um, no.

The problem isn't that society has an abundance of people who are hitting the "post" button before they've contemplated the consequences of their actions. And the problem isn't an overabundance of Ambien lowering people's inhibitions.

The problem is that we have an abundance of people who still hold disgusting, bigoted views.

The problem isn't that we have people who somehow haven't fully internalized the consequences and permanency of social media.

The problem is that we have people who somehow have failed to internalize the consequences of being a reprehensible human being.

(Of course, failing to do that is easy when you have a television network willing to hand over bags of cash while ignoring years of bigotry, paranoia, and all-around lunacy on your Twitter feed--but that's a subject for a different article.)

The next time a social media expert tells us to think twice before we tweet something offensive, we should dismiss that advice. That's like telling you to think twice before you kill someone, because you're likely to get caught.

Instead, we should think twice about the way we think. 

When we pause before posting something awful, we shouldn't look at our fingers on a keyboard, or think about the job we might lose. Instead, we should look in our hearts and think about the way a hateful, bigoted Tweet chips away at our ability to coexist. We shouldn't think about a social media policy. We should think about the world we want to create and what our individual contribution to that world will be.

(And of course, there is always the possibility that you do that and still conclude that you should go ahead and tweet the tweet. If that's the case, you deserve to suffer the consequences.)

Published on: May 31, 2018