The controversy around the hiring and subsequent “unhiring” of Teen Vogue’s would-be editor-in-chief is just the latest incident of past bad behavior online having serious present-day professional consequences. ICYMI, Alexi McCammond resigned from her Conde Nast job offer after staffers decried racist and homophobic tweets she wrote in 2011. As the first generation to have lived nearly exclusively online, first with smartphones and then the explosive popularity of social media (which largely encourages posting unconsidered thoughts), will young people be haunted by their past digital lives that can rarely be erased? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? See my post below and comment.
- A take in The Atlantic argues that the incident shows how forgiveness in the digital age is dead.
America Has Forgotten How to Forgive
Last week, Teen Vogue and their once new and now former hire for editor-in-chief, Alexi McCammond, parted ways after ugly tweets she posted nearly a decade earlier were resurfaced. McCammond had apologized for the tweets two years earlier but outrage among some of Teen Vogue’s staff reportedly made the offer untenable.
The incident raises questions about the extent to which the digital lives of the first generation raised with the internet and social media will come back to haunt their career prospects later in life. With so many teenagers posting much of their lives and thoughts online (the good and the bad), what will this mean for their employment later on?
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Is this like asking, “Is there a statute of limitations for posts made in the past that expose awful beliefs?” After seven years are you forgiven? If you have apologized, gone to counseling to learn, and are now reformed, does that erase old sins?
Are there levels of “bad behavior”? Bad behavior to me sounds like dumb pranks, overdrinking with high school friends, or streaking across the campus like a fool.
Then there’s “horrid” and “despicable” behavior that involves making ugly and hurtful comments about race, heritage, color, religion, and sexual orientation. Those beliefs are often very deep and surface again even after counseling.
We are told we should forgive and help others reform. I will try to give that second chance, continue to help educate those who have cruel ideas, but forgetting about it will be challenging.