Don’t Let 140 Characters Define You

Social media has taken our communications to a new level of interactivity and connectivity. With 140 characters you can communicate with anyone in the world. While this is an incredible tool it can also be a curse to those who don’t respect the reach and power of social media. Charles Barkley said a long time ago that he is not a role model.

While I understand what he was trying to convey, the message being that our parents, teachers, and professionals that surround our children should be the ones they look up to, but the reality is everything an athlete does, every word the athlete speaks and types is absorbed, emulated, and imitated by those who look up to us. That is the inescapable fact of the social media world that we live in. Knowing that this is the case, athletes need to be mindful about what they put in those 140 characters.

There are certain words and phrases that should never be used and I won’t use them here but I’m sure you’ve seen an athlete say some word or use some phrase that makes you cringe at the very least. I understand that we all have a right to free speech in this great country of ours. But that’s where the blessing of being an athlete, comes with a curse that all must accept.

What we all must remember is that your twitter, blog and other social media conversations are public for millions to see and to replicate. As an athlete if you use words and phrases that are offensive to any of the millions that are looking up to you and following you at the very least it could eliminate a whole section of population that could be of benefit to you now and in the future. At the worst, It could be disastrous to you, your brand and your future.

Anything that you post to the web will be captured and searchable forever, not only by fans but also to potential sponsors and employers when you are no longer playing the game. I cannot imagine that anyone would be getting calls from sponsors of global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nike and M&M Mars to represent their global brand to the world if in one click they would be offended or fear their clients and customers would be offended by what they saw in your timeline.

I cannot imagine that if a recruiter from a top university, upon seeing an athlete’s timeline was offended by what they saw, the athlete would be getting all the possible scholarship offers that would have been available. I cannot imagine that any athlete would be getting the top job interviews for post-career opportunities, if in one click what that athlete has created in their timeline would be detrimental to the company’s brand, image and culture.

As a wise generation says, there is a time and place for everything. Social media is a world stage and those who participate are living and evolving cast members. You don’t want your most important audience to lower the curtain on your performance and your future.

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