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The social media isn't the problem

Jeanne Sager - Columnist
Posted 4/26/21

There's no such thing as a “good” racist post on social media. Racism is racism, and racism is both repugnant and repulsive.

Still, there's something especially stomach churning when the …

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The social media isn't the problem

Posted

There's no such thing as a “good” racist post on social media. Racism is racism, and racism is both repugnant and repulsive.

Still, there's something especially stomach churning when the posts come from teenagers, kids who should be old enough to know better and yet kids all the same.

Since social media posts surfaced a week ago of local students engaging in racist behavior, debates have struck up among parents about what to do next.

Is it to sit down with our own children to talk about the ills of racism? Is it to sit them down for a lengthy reminder of just how damaging one social media post can be to their futures? How do we balance the two without letting one overshadow the other?

There's no question that our kids need to learn that racism is wrong — a conversation that should start as soon as they're able to talk and comprehend differences.

Nor is there a question about the devastating effects even just one social media post can have on someone's future. Facebook is now 17 years old, Twitter just two years younger. There's now enough of a history to be unearthed that comments made when someone wasn't old enough to drink, to vote, or even to drive to keep them from getting a job more than a decade into adulthood.

And yet, the conversations are complicated.

Do we excuse teenage actions as “mistakes” because they were committed by kids whose prefrontal cortexes were not yet developed? When facing a 27 year old and reviewing something they posted on Twitter at 17, perhaps — especially if actions in the ensuing years have proven they've changed.

There's something to be said for separating the adult from their child self.

But as we parents sit down for yet another “screenshots last forever” conversation, it behooves us parents not to make social media the monster in the room, chasing out the shadow of racism.

Posting on social media can make bad actions permanent. But social media posting isn't what makes them bad to begin with.

Racism is still racism…even if it doesn't end up online.

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