The May 16 edition of Sports Illustrated reports Pittsburgh Steeler running back Rashard Mendenhall questioned the public’s reaction to Osama bin Laden’s demise, tweeting, “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak…”
Later, again on Twitter, Mendenhall wondered whether planes could have taken down the twin towers on 9/11. He has since deleted that post but has continued to offer his feelings on the topic.
He was subsequently dropped as a spokesman by Champion athletic apparel after the company decided his comments were inconsistent with their values.
The 23-year-old recently had signed a four-year extension to endorse Champion through 2015, but the company announced last Friday that, while it respected Mendenhall’s right to express opinions, it no longer believed he could “appropriately represent” the brand.
This story should give us pause when we flippantly and sometimes emotionally express our reactions and opinions in 140 succinct characters on Twitter to a news story, bad customer service, and the like.
Those of us who live with social media respect the right to free speech and become so comfortable with the medium that it literally becomes our real-time mouthpiece, but we should think hard before we emotionally type out a Tweet that resides on a server far away forever and has potential to damage our future.
A friend who manages a local restaurant told me Twitter frustrated him because his staff could provide a customer good service for months on end and never a tweet, but one evening of bad service and a Tweet goes out immediately. He said, “I can’t win.”
Don’t get me wrong, if you know my Tweets, I can be quite opinionated and at times emotional, but this story really helps me realize anew the gravity of those 140 short little characters.
Thoughts: Do you think Mendenhall should have been dropped?
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