Delete your Old Tweets or Prepare your “I was Young” Speech

They warned us. They told us what we put out on the Internet would come back and ruin us. They told us to censor ourselves. They told us to be wise. They repeated it like a broken record, and they were right. But here is the thing, where is the line between youthful ignorance and blatant bigotry? I don’t know, but it’s probably as thin as the line between neighborhood revitalization and gentrification. Celebrity after “celebrity” is being ousted for problematic pasts and problematic posts. This solution-oriented post will be focusing on the latter.

First, the moral fiber of society has developed exponentially over the past decade and a half. There seemed to be a status quo plateau from the early 70s until the 90s; then in 00s, the home team Millennials said it’s time to make something shake. The “kids” are just more tolerant and less tolerant than earlier generations, more tolerant of people being who they are and less tolerant of oppression, bullying, harassment of all kinds; honestly, anybody who stifles anybody else’s right to be themselves. The Millennials are system breakers and habitual pot-stirrers. We’re also really good at digging up old tweets.

Twitter more than any other network serves as a not so personal diary of people’s wildest thoughts and dreams. You know this if you’ve been on #twitterafterdark. You learn a lot about a person’s life, thoughts, bedroom habits, faith, etc. I don’t know what it is, but when the sun goes down, so do people’s guards on social media. I think the then 140, now 280 character messages encourage sharing because the thoughts either have to be concise or half-formed. The latter is when you get the string/threads of emotion-fueled diatribes of deeply held personal beliefs.

Then you have the people who range on the scale of laugh-worthy and are wizards with words. They tread the line of funny and offensive gracefully. Every now and then they fall off the wire and drop a tweet that is hurtful to somebody(s). But the beauty of Twitter is that people may be upset for a moment, but within one refresh – at the most, a day – that tweet is probably gone to wherever tweets go to die, and the often fake, sometimes real, anger disappears with it, and we all move forward until the next noteworthy tweet comes.

2010 Twitter was an entirely different place than the present. There were a lot more of the questionable tweets that would make you blink twice, and maybe reply, maybe even spark a conversation, or Trending Topic, but after that, it would be over. Now, you’ll probably get fired, or lose your show and alienate half your fan base.

One thing that remains constant then and now is the trolls. However, in 2018 trolling goes to a new level when mixed with haterism. When a person gets “ON,” there is always that one person, but for no other reason than they are not “ON,” that will look for your old tweets from 2010 and retweet them to 2018 just to watch you melt in the frying pan like a piece of butter.

We see it time after time, most recently with Brother Nature, an up and coming Twitter personality who has the uncanny ability to attract animals that I’ve only seen up close and personal when they run into my car when I’m driving down the freeway. He has recently apologized for the 12-year-old version of himself. I’ll say that again, the 12-YEAR-OLD version of himself has come back to haunt him eightish years later.

So, what can you do to defend yourself from the haters… and your own immaturity, stupidity and possibly problematic beliefs from years past? Be proactive with cleaning your personal brand because they are coming; especially if you have something to lose or believe you have something to lose in the future. Let’s start here:

  1. Don’t post questionable content. The best offense is a good defense. There are no controversial tweets to dig up if there are no controversial tweets.
  2. Don’t tweet racist, homophobic, sexist, rapist, illegal or morally bankrupt content.
  3. Create a secondary super private troll account. On second thought that didn’t work so well with Kevin Durant, even though that was an anti-troll account.
  4. Scrub your Twitter account. Type your @username and “questionable terms” and prepare to be amazed at how terrible you used to be. Delete, delete, delete.
  5. Nuke your Twitter account. Sometimes you just have to throw the whole thing away. Start fresh. It’s not too late until it is.
  6. Pray. Once it’s out there, it’s out there… somewhere. Just pray the haters don’t find it.
  7. Prepare your “I was young, and I have grown as person” speech even though you’re 42.

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