One of my favorite sports commentators is Herm Edwards. Edwards is a former pro football player and coach. Now working for ESPN, his thoughts on football and other subjects are always interesting and entertaining. Some of you may remember Herm from a press conference years ago when he was head coach of the New York Jets. When asked about his team’s effort in a losing cause, he replied with a now famous quote, “You play to win the game!”
On ESPN, he was asked about a current football player who had posted something on social media that had caused problems for the player and his team. Herm answered, “The solution is simple, don’t press Send!” Other commentators on the network picked up the quote. Now when someone in sports sends out something on social media that backfires and causes problems, the folks at ESPN often say, “As Herm said, ‘Don’t press Send!’”
I think there are a lot of folks around who need to listen to Herm. I bet there are some high school students who thought they were going to Harvard University, who wish they had. I’m sure their parents do.
The Associated Press reported this past week that “at least 10 students who were accepted to Harvard University had their admission offers revoked because they made offensive comments online, the university’s student newspaper reported. The Harvard Crimson (The Harvard campus newspaper) reported that some students in the incoming freshman class created a private Facebook group in December where they traded images and messages that were often sexually explicit and sometimes mocked racial minorities. The university tells accepted students that their offers can be withdrawn if their behavior ‘brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character,’ among a variety of other reasons.”
Those students aren’t the only ones who end up regretting having pressed that Send or Post button. More and more institutions and potential employers are checking social media history. The words and images posted online are being used to evaluate potential new students, employees, etc. They may discover that what sounds and looks cool to your teenage or young adult friends might not appear that way to your fifty year old potential future employer.
Then, there is our President. President Trump loves to use Twitter as a way to communicate, and as a method to get around the media. It is a good way to communicate directly with the public. But maybe he likes it a little too much. Some of his comments on Twitter have actually contradicted previous White House statements, and hurt the potential effectiveness of the Trump Administration. The people around the President know this. There was even talk of an “intervention” by those concerned individuals with President Trump, in order to slow down his use of social media. In other words, “Please, Mr. President, don’t press Send!”
Finally, there are some people around here locally that may need to listen to Herm Edwards, and not press that Send or Post button. There was apparently talk of some violent activity planned at a local high school. What exactly it was and how much of it was actually true, I do not know. But I do know, according to newspaper reports that the alleged threat was made on a social media website. Before it was over, there was an increased police presence at the school and students were required to go through metal detectors before entering the school.
Today’s modern methods of communication are great. We can communicate information, thoughts and ideas to individuals, or to thousands of people, quickly and easily. We can communicate positive things that help and benefit others. Or we can use those devices in such a way that hurts others, and in the end, often hurting ourselves. Our computer or mobile device doesn’t care. They are just machines. We make the choice. Maybe the best choice often is to “Don’t press Send!”
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org