Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 24, 2014

Social media problems

By Aaron Viner | Aug 04, 2014

All it takes is one misstep and your reputation can be quickly tarnished.
One Penn State football recruit found that out the hard way last week in a story that received national attention.
Penn State football has been extremely active on Twitter, trying to connect with recruits on the social media site, but offensive line coach Herb Hand sent out a tweet last Wednesday that got a lot of people thinking.
“Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence ... Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him,” Hand said in his tweet.
With the exploding popularity of social media, especially among younger generations, it has become an outlet for young people to vocalize their thoughts and share ideas. While these outlets certainly have a lot of positives, the negative side effects can be just as harsh.
Some people attempt to put a persona out there that makes them seem “cool,” even if it doesn’t accurately represent them. Whatever persona this unnamed recruit was putting forth on social media, was so unattractive to the coaches, that they decided not to offer him a scholarship.
“Once something is posted, it’s out there forever,” Washington baseball head coach Nathan Miller said. “When you look at accountability and reflection of character, Twitter is a way to damage it pretty fast.  Whenever I get calls for players, it’s not ‘are they a good player?’ It’s ‘are they a good person?’  The coaches already know if they can hit or field.”
While coaches want the best athletes on their team so they can get championships, they also don’t want to deal with the headache of off-field distractions.
This is why a lot of social media interaction among athletes seems to be nonexistent. Plus, so many of these professional athletes are so highly publicized as it is, they probably don’t need the extra attention it brings, unless you are Richard Sherman or Johnny Manziel.
While some people jumped out to defend the Penn State recruit involved, this story is an important lesson for anyone who posts with reckless disregard on social media Web sites.
“It’s based on your own knowledge and intelligence,” recent Washington High School graduate Tanner Knupp said. “You don’t ever want to go on social media and post something inappropriate or derogatory, especially about a team that you are included on.”
And social media doesn’t just affect people’s lives in sports. A couple of my friends in college had to create new Facebook accounts because their old accounts were littered with pictures of them drinking and partying.
If a potential employer sees that kind of behavior, unless you are applying for a job in the party industry, you most likely aren’t going to get that job.
“It’s an outlet and kids are using this for an outlet to document their day-to-day lives,” Miller said. “The problem is whatever you post is there forever. Coaches are looking for the responsibility factor, and it’s great to be able to communicate, but you have a responsibility to be able to represent yourself well.”
So let this be a lesson learned, for not only athletes, but for all young people entering the work force. Beware of what you are posting, because someone will inevitably find it.

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