It’s not hard to clean up your social media. As a matter of fact, it’s simple.
Go on Twitter, type in your handle and follow that with the offensive word/slur of your choice, and if anything comes up, delete that tweet regardless of when it was written or how old you were when you wrote it. It sounds absurdly easy, and that’s because it is.
Yet over the past several months, several celebrities, mainly from the sports world, have had old, offensive tweets uncovered for the world to see. Most recently, this problem transcended sports. One of the most famous comedians in the world, Kevin Hart, removed himself from hosting the 2019 Oscars as a result of backlash after homophobic remarks from several years ago resurfaced online. When the Academy demanded that he apologize or else give up his spot as the host, Hart chose the latter.
The way I see it, there are three schools of thought on the issue of offensive tweets, and here is a brief description of those groups:
Group One: The “out for blood” group
This represents the people who don’t see forgiveness as an option for the celebrities in question; or at least make it appear that way. To them, a racist, sexist, homophobic etc. tweet represents the viewpoints of the tweeter, and those tweeters must face repercussions regardless of when they sent the tweets or if what they wrote is indicative at all of how they see the world.
Group Two: The “both sides of the coin” group
This group is the most neutral of the three. While group two isn’t as quick to pile on the backlash that celebrities face when their old tweets come back to prominence, they feel that the perpetrators are at fault not only for the content of their tweets, but also for the fact that they had years to get rid of them and, for whatever reason, never got around to doing it. So while these people might not necessarily support Hart losing his status as Oscars host, their sympathy is limited.
Group Three: The “get a life” group
Our final group is almost the exact opposite of the first one. While group one is quick to come after the people who sent the offensive tweets, group three’s anger is directed towards the “keyboard warriors” who decided to uncover them. People in this school of thought wonder how somebody can have any desire to try and take successful people down, and while they don’t necessarily condone offensive tweets, they are sympathetic towards the tweeters and hostile towards the people who discovered the tweets.
I think it’s important for us to have elements of all three groups. It should be common sense that we are not to condone vile content. We should also understand that, if these tweets saw the light of day years ago and don’t indicate who the person is today, the best way to show that would be to delete whatever could end up being harmful before they come to light again.
Those who went out of their way to uncover these tweets deserve backlash, too, as they likely did it specifically with the intent to harm and without looking to benefit anybody except themselves. To me, it takes a sad person to try to bring down somebody more successful than them, so in that way, I share elements of group three.
While I feel that Hart’s reputation is solid enough to be hosting the Oscars, I can’t feel too bad for him. He made the choice to tweet something that could be deemed offensive, didn’t take it down when he had years to and refused to apologize to anybody he may have hurt when given the opportunity to keep his spot as host. The bottom line is to watch what you tweet. Let these millionaires teach us a lesson on how we should go about using our social media.