Opinion: Do old social media posts define you?
By Rosemary De Souza, Features Editor
Since the beginning of social media in the 1970s to the releases of newer social platforms in the mid-2000s, people of various ages have been using the internet to vocalize their thoughts and opinions.
Generations X, Y and Z have been archiving their thoughts on the Internet even before 2004 with the release of Facebook, Twitter in 2006 and Instagram in 2010. As years pass, our growth has been documented in the words we post, the photos we take, the interactions we’ve had and how our messages were received within the reactions of the time. With change running at a fast pace, we are left to reflect at how we once thought and how we can think for the better.
But some are forced to be defined by old words, rather than being given a chance to reflect at past actions and look forward to a better version of themselves.
THEN | James Gunn and Guardians and the Galaxy
When James Gunn was fired from the set of Guardians of the Galaxy after a series of old tweets resurfaced where the director joked about pedophilia and rape, his cast members had something else to say.
In an open letter, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and others said they fully support Gunn.
“Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future,” they wrote, adding that his firing came as a shock.
“James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial,” the cast members wrote. “Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassination and stop weaponizing mob mentality.”
It looks like the cast was right as several artists have been negatively impacted by social media by losing jobs and opportunities that could grow their career. Iggy Azalea backed out of a pride event when old tweets of hers were considered homophobic and now Kevin Hart is doing the same.
NOW | Kevin Hart and the Oscars
In 2010, on his stand-up special, the actor and comedian said, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
Hart addressed his homosexual jokes in 2015 to the Rolling Stone where he said, “It’s about my fear. I’m thinking about what I did as a dad, did I do something wrong, and if I did, what was it? Not that I’m not gonna love my son or think about him any differently.”
“I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now,” he continued.
Hart has not released comments on Twitter about homosexuality since 2011, according to BuzzFeed’s Adam B. Vary.
But just like many other celebrities whose careers are on the rise, Hart’s old tweets became the topic of conversation again after he was announced to host the Oscars this year.
Two days after Hart expressed his excitement for the offer, he went on Instagram to respond to backlash from his old tweets.
“If you don’t believe people change, grow, evolve as they get older, then I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past, do you. I’m the wrong guy, man.”
Moments after, Hart backed down from hosting the Oscars after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences told the comedian to apologize.
“I passed on the apology,” Hart says on a video posted to Instagram. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up.”
“We feed Internet trolls and reward them. I’m not going to do it, man. I’m going to be me. I’m gonna stand my ground.”
Hours later, Hart released an apology.
“I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” he says in a tweet. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
“I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again,” he continued.
Throughout the years, social media has done more than its primary goal to connect people around the world. It has been a catalyst for change. From the #MeToo movement to raising awareness of issues from different parts of the world, the online web has come a long way.
But with every positive step it takes, a setback is waiting to appear.
Calling others out on past actions is not the same as using social media to foster hate, bring people down and personify them as characters undeserving of their own achievements.
Unfortunately, it’s practically safe to say that the our old, forgotten words can define who we are in this day and age, how we are perceived and even possibly, our opportunities in life.
Social media has found a way to keep its balance, as the online environment that fosters change becomes a locked cell, depriving others of growth.