Smartphones sure bring out the stupid in some people.
In life, you have to take the good with the bad. What’s true of life is apparently also true of social media. And when you behave like a rascal on Twitter, there’s an excellent chance that more “bad” than “good” is coming your way.
On Monday, Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted to the ultimate elected official social media no-no. He meant to send a direct message. Instead, he accidentally sent a public reply. The content, of course, is now well-known to all – and routinely provokes comments about the congressman living up to his last name.
“Last Friday night I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle,” Rep. Weiner admitted, while choking back tears. “Once I realized I had posted to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down and said I had been hacked. I then continued to stick to that story which was a hugely regrettable mistake.”
Like other members of Congress who have similarly admitted to Craigslist, Twitter, and various email improprieties, Weiner – as it turns out – is just among the latest lewd social media addicts who have been caught in the act accidentally.
“Over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online,” Mr. Weiner said.
For elected officials, social media has made it more difficult than ever to conceal inappropriate behavior that, in a previous era, may have gone undetected. But now that Twitter and Facebook are practically mandatory communication tools for incumbents, it’s safe to say that we’ll probably see more of these unfortunate events, not fewer in the years ahead.
Why? Because as some political scientists pontificate, power can go to one’s head very quickly. Once a sense of infallibility meets a penchant for social media, it’s a perfect recipe for scandal.
Of course, no is blaming social media for Rep. Anthony Weiner’s indiscretions. Ultimately, Weiner has to accept responsibilities for his actions – and he has. But one can only speculate as to how many other elected officials at all levels of government in the US and around the world will soon be exposed – both literally and figuratively – in the new and unavoidable age of social networking.