Welcome to today’s edition of “So You Think You Wanna Run For Office”.
Two words you need to be wary of if that’s the plan? Digital footprint.
We’re starting to get to the point where the people who are deciding to run for office are ones that have grown up in the digital media era. I’m someone who can actually remember life before social media; yes, I’m aging myself here. When I was growing up, there was no ‘social media etiquette class’ or ‘guide to conducting yourself online.’ You could get away with more then.
With young people today, there is this tendency to post anything and everything online, immediately. There is no ‘sober second thought’ (see what I did there?) or consideration given to how it may come back to haunt you in the future. I would classify Election 42 as the first election where social media can be a deciding factor in all things politics. We saw it in 2008 and 2012 with Obama in the States, and now we’re really seeing it play out here in Canada. We’ve seen at least 4 candidates this election resign/be asked to leave, all due to their social media accounts. What’s important to note, is that most of these issues arose because of posts that pre-dated their running for office.
So how do we address this? The simple solution would be to just not post stupid/offensive/racist/homophobic/inappropriate things. But I think that, with very few exceptions, people don’t set out to post things like that. They get caught up in a moment or they have a lapse of judgment. There is not one person among us who hasn’t had a lapse of judgment – the difference is, once you post something online it is forever. Once you put that out in the Twitter-verse or on Facebook, you can’t take it back. So how do we deal with this? If you have the answer, I’m sure there are a few people who would like to know what it is.
Here are some articles on the topic of social media gaffes: