The sports media fraternity was over the weekend awash with tweets that were posted by Burnley FC striker Andrey Gray four years ago. The tweets contained language that was deemed “homophobic”, ” sexist” and “racist”. For a man who had helped his team to a 2-0 win by scoring the second goal against Liverpool, one would have expected cheers and lauds but the response he got online was the kind that no match winning goal scorer would ever want.
Gray was able to issue an apology through the club’s official social media page which contributed mere to nothing in as far as reducing the social media outrage was concerned. Andre Gray wouldn’t happen to be the first let alone the last human being to post a line or two on social media, and he sure as hell won’t be the last to get stick for it, years later.
It could be you, maybe 4 years from now someone will pull out an old post of yours and suggest you’re a rebel, and at the moment it won’t matter whether you posted it as a joke or copied it from another person’s timeline. The social media world will judge you like Benjamin Odoki in his prime.
Your critics will at this point appear to have been right all along. Your employers will suspend or even fire you. Your entire world will collapse about you, just because you made an ironic post 5 years ago about how good the Gaddafi regime was or about who should or shouldn’t sleep with who.
The retrieval of these old posts by whoever is responsible should in no way be separated from ill intent and/or sabotage of one’s career and life. You ever wonder why such old posts resurface when one is running for president, newly married or has recently acquired a prestigious job?
It is the timing of the resurfacing of old posts that raises eyebrows. Andre Gray’s tweets were released a few hours after Burnely beat Liverpool 2-0 on Saturday. A game in which Gray’s goal dealt a coup de grace to the Kops. So instead of Gray being in the news as a hero, he was the biggest villain of the back pages.
Reading through most of comments that followed the released tweets, one argument seemed to be more prominent than others. And that’s whether Gray has changed from the man who posted those words 4 years back, and whether it is relevant to harshly criticise him “now” and not “when” he made those posts.
Perhaps maybe racial, sexist and homophobic remarks weren’t very clear to social media users 4 years ago, or it’s just social media’s contribution to the surging levels of euphemism.
On social media, terms like Terrorist, Rebel, Racist, Anti-Semite, Sexist, Blasphemer and others are interchangeably and in most cases wrongly used to refer to Muslims, Freedom Fighters, Gender equality activists, Arabs, liberals and anti-Zionists. Just as I wrote about in this similar article Amin wasn’t an Anti-Semite but an Anti-Zionist
And for those willing to ruin one’s life or career, pulling out an old post of yours could be the difference between you being a racist in 2016 for a tweet you made in 2012. So the next time you post something on social media, ask yourself how much impact that post will/should have on your future.
Thanks alot for reading. Keep reading and I’ll keep writing.