In the lexicon of classic idioms, look before you leap is perhaps the best known and most time-tested of them all. In today’s world of social media where many are still feeling their way, I would suggest, think before you post be also considered regularly. That is the key message I sought to get across this week in Fox-2 reporter M.L. Elrick’s story on a city councilwoman who posted a photo to Facebook showing her posing with a convicted felon who served time in recent years for bribing former councilwoman Monica Conyers. Click here to see the complete story.
Now, make no mistake – anyone who has served time in prison deserves to live their life afterward and a second chance to walk the straight and narrow. Similarly, everyone should be able to socialize with whom they wish. All that said, and as I relayed in my comments in the story, at a time when the City of Detroit is still reeling and dealing with the aftermath of corruption by public officials, each and every official now in office should be focused on restoring the public trust, not raising more questions.
As for what ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor from my chat with Fox-2, that I would suggest all of us should take into account:
- Consider the very words that make up the term “social media.” They tell us that the medium is public and not private
- Anyone using social media should use this litmus test prior to posting: Would I be comfortable with having my post published in the newspaper or aired on TV/radio?
- If I am a public official, I am held to an even higher standard – in terms of conduct and whom I associate with – in my public and private life
Was this particular instance a lack of judgment? A misunderstanding of the power of the medium and how it works? A sign of immaturity? Unfortunately, we don’t know as the official in question isn’t talking publicly (ironically enough). And that is where another idiom comes to mind: Learn from your mistakes. I would suggest another: Take responsibility for your actions. Because with social media, the world is watching and judging.