Opinion: Like it or not, social media footprints are forever

You are what you tweet.

by Cassidy McCombs, Staff Writer

As another news topic blows up social media newsfeeds, so do everyone’s opinions. This weekend the NFL captured America’s attention with their unifying response to Trump’s attack on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem. While this topic appears to be straight forward — who can argue the opinion the NFL holds when they showed such graceful solidarity — it seems that this is another hot topic worthy of disputes. As we all scroll through Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, it is important to keep in mind what posting an opinion implies on social media.

One perk of social media is the ability to get immediate updates. Social media is like a blank canvas of internet space for one’s personal projection of personality. One can tweet every hour, post on Instagram every day or share “Tasty” videos on Facebook. But alongside the limitless space a social networking account brings, comes a permanent digital footprint. It is weird to think that an ugly, deleted picture from 2011 is still traceable today. But that is the reality of social media. Any opinion, picture, comment and share is permanent. That permanency may not seem so daunting, but it may be in the future. Some active filtering is necessary moving forward.

I stopped checking social media accounts after the NFL protests broke the news. It’s ironic, the people I want to see less posts from tend to post most often, and the types of posts I completely disagree with tend to be the posts most shared. When checking my social media this weekend, I felt relieved that none of my friends or family were saying the NFL protests were being disrespectful towards the flag. In fact, a handful of people were sharing “The Other 98%” Facebook post, “Thinking NFL players are ‘protesting the flag’ is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation.”

Even though opinions this weekend reflected my own, posting and oversharing were rampant. Posting multiple times within a matter of hours on the same topic is draining and obsessive. Dramatically stating allegiance does not make one an active player. In a world where socially conscious behavior is checked and ignorance is called out, being overactive on social media has a validating effect. But what’s more concerning in the long-term are the digital identities being formed with every bit of shared news.

My friend recently said she was hiding our mutual friend’s posts from her social media feeds because of their frequency and content. Online behavior projects an identity that can impact people’s opinion. Everything one posts is reflective of who they are in real life because social media is intertwined with day-to-day reality. Who someone is in person can only be observed from one primary source, people physically around them. But one’s social media can be judged by anyone, regardless of privacy settings.

You are what you tweet.