A little word to the wise

And this is thanks to this article at WaPo not long ago.

I’ve refrained from writing in this blog about politics as of lately, and with good reason. I’ve expressed my thoughts and predictions on the unfolding of events to some close friends and they turned out correct – and that’s all I’ll say on what’s going on right now.

However.

This article really, really needs to be read.

Why?

Because this is law catching up to technology, and this is the law finally confirming what we, the children of the Internet and social media from its inception, have been saying all along:

Never put anything online that you don’t want in a court of law because this recent court decision gave social media the same weight as verbal testimony and/or police statements.

The court case is public record, so you can look up the full text at your own leisure, but know this: the Twitter posts were used as a basis for the decision. This is a major, major, major event in jurisprudence and should, for sure, be taken seriously.

For too long people, people got away with shit because “Oh, it’s just social media.” How many vitriolic comment threads did we read on Youtube, magazine articles, news articles, etc. and if we report them, half the time the result is, “Well, it’s just social media.”

It’s not. It really is not. What you say online is just as much weight as saying it in a courtroom, and that court decision solidified it.

Just like right now, they convicted a 14-year-old for inciting someone to suicide over social media, they now also used someone’s tweets as evidence and/or basis for legal decisions.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, and this is a lesson I have learned early on as a teenager back in the era where LiveJournal was the only social media available: do not say anything online that you don’t want biting you in the ass later.

Too many times there’s stories of cops busting people who put up pictures of drugs, etc. on their Facebook page. Every time I see that, I laugh at the utter stupidity of these people. Facebook is the world’s megaphone and the general principle of the Internet is once you’ve put something public, it’s out there forever. If you are trying to brag about how you did something illegal? Don’t. Put. It. On. Social. Media. You’re just begging to be arrested.

As a certain someone who’s all over the news is learning now.

And yes, the case of the teenager inciting suicide is a salient reminder to always, always consider the consequences to your words. The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones…” blah blah blah, is bullshit. Sorry, but it’s bullshit. Too many kids dead because of something their peers said and did proves that it’s bullshit. If you never had that happen to you – great, but then were you one of the kids who were the tormentors? I’d bet that either that, or you watched and did nothing. Just because you and your peers suffered through it with no recourse back then does not mean that this current generation is obligated to do the same.

Words have weight. Words have consequence. And the US courts just served up a nice long reminder of that.

K.G.

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