Delete tweets? This is why I did it and why you should consider doing it, too

Delete tweets? This is why I did it and why you should consider doing it, too

USA TODAY Don't tweet. That's my advice to avoid someone digging up misguided, offensive or otherwise troublesome tweets from your past. Of course, I haven't heeded that advice, at least when it comes to Twitter. I tweet, but I do so less now than ever. But what to do with old tweets? "You might have worn a provocative T-shirt in high school that you wouldn't wear to work today." Three Major League Baseball players, all in their mid-20s, apologized for racist and homophobic tweets they sent when they were in high school. Children are documenting their entire adolescence online through social media. The thing about growing up is that it never stops. The more important discussion is what experiences changed a person from the tweets people found offensive and an understanding of why some view what was tweeted as problematic.

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Recently unearthed tweets from several players suggest that baseball still has a large problem with racism and homophobia. USA TODAY

Don’t tweet.

That’s my advice to avoid someone digging up misguided, offensive or otherwise troublesome tweets from your past.

Treat Twitter the way most people treat smoking: Don’t start.

Of course, I haven’t heeded that advice, at least when it comes to Twitter. I tweet, but I do so less now than ever.

But what to do with old tweets?

“It’s a question of how you want to be perceived,” said Nick Westergaard, a brand strategist and lecturer at the University of Iowa’s business college. “You might have worn a provocative T-shirt in high school that you wouldn’t wear to work today.”

Troublesome old tweets turned July into the unofficial “Gotcha!” month.

Disney fired director James Gunn after some his old tweets with offensive jokes about rape and pedophilia surfaced.

Three Major League Baseball players, all in their mid-20s, apologized for racist and homophobic tweets they sent when they were in high school.

Gunn said his tweets were meant as provocative jokes. He apologized. The ballplayers also apologized.

But here’s the rub, according Michele Williams, UI assistant professor of entrepreneurship.

“When you look at your old tweets, you say, ‘I’ve grown since then. I wouldn’t say these things now,'” she said. “But when others look at the same tweets, they see them as statements of your character.”

It’s like the lyrics from the John Mellencamp song “Walk Tall” — “People believe what they want to believe when it makes no sense at all.”

Twitter is 12 years old, which for those keeping score at home, means some kids in middle school never lived a day of their lives without Twitter. Children are documenting their entire adolescence online through social media.

If there’s anything adults know about adolescence, it’s how ignorant we were as adolescents. That’s why we go through the awkward, painful and stressful period of growing up.

The thing about growing up is that it never stops. We keep learning, changing and evolving through our experiences. But…

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