The Pitfalls of Social Media

At the beginning of November, a small, internal forum for city politics blew up very quickly. The story fixated on a discussion about a police officer, Stephen Rankin, who had shot and killed two unarmed men in the line of duty. He was being sentenced for the second shooting in October. The response by a candidate for the school board was simple: “Lesson Learned: Never hire ex-military […] they are only trained to do their job – kill or be killed.”

Those of us who serve, and even those who have served, can likely write this off to simple ignorance – if not for the fact that Jo Ann Clark was also running for the school board and attempting to serve as a representative for her city. There is no lack of humility and respect for service members in Virginia. While the actions of the police officer could not be excused, the conduct of the forum members was swift and punishing.

Besides the multiple City Council members, and the School Board Chairmen, many of the 235 members responded in unison. They stood by their service members. They did not do so out of blind support, they did so because no group of people deserve to be summed up in so ignorant of a comment, let alone have their potential hiring reduced by someone who is biased.

appsAs is usually the response, the original poster made a follow up response, identifying that the comment was supposed to be “satiric,” not “anti-veteran.” The irony is that the social media forum permitted someone to express their cheap humor and take a shot at an entire group of people. It also allowed them to blame it all on a simple misunderstanding.

People are quick to say that not everyone should take things so seriously. Perhaps we should all have thicker skin. The flip side is that people who are in positions of responsibility or who are campaigning to be elected to them should demonstrate an awareness that their comments have a direct effect, both positive and negative on the world around them.

When a community leader is able to influence the hiring and selection of people within that region, their opinions do matter. When they throw ignorant and absolutely biased statements out into a public setting, they should be held accountable for them. Explaining that everyone else simply misunderstood one’s sense of humor only means that perhaps one does not actually have a sense of humor.

This is not a story truly about this incident, but about how social media can become an extension of ourselves, permitting private sides to become very public, and unfortunately well-known. People should take the extra time to consider how their statements will be taken by others. They should understand that perception is reality to people and therefore make sure that their intent is properly conveyed. Perhaps most important of all, they should realize that the veteran community cannot be summed up by the actions of one single person, and that they should not be treated poorly by a potential community leader.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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