To tweet or not to tweet…that is the question.
OK, so maybe Shakespeare didn’t exactly say that but earlier this month, I got to thinking that maybe we should update his original “to be or not to be” with something like my opening question, replacing it with whatever social media platform we feel like ranting on when we’re angry about something or at someone.
Unfortunately, whenever it happens, it’ll be too late for Jessica McCloughan, the wife of Washington Redskins GM Scot McCloughan, to undo the damage she did when she hit send on tweets that disparaged a female ESPN reporter.
To reset the stage for those who may not have heard, ESPN’s Dianna Russini broke the story of quarterback Kirk Cousins replacing Robert Griffin III as the Redskins’ starting QB prior to the start of the season. Jessica McCloughan then took to her personal Twitter account and insinuated that Russini must’ve performed sexual acts – presumably with her husband Scot – in order to get the story before anyone else. In a separate tweet, Jessica suggested that Russini was her husband’s “side chick.”
All of this, of course, was completely false and just a jealous wife spouting off and showing her insecurities to the world and dragging the name of a perfectly reputable female sports reporter through the mud for no reason. Jessica apologized through a well-scripted statement a few days later but the damage was done and even deleting her Twitter account didn’t stop anyone who wanted to do a Google search to read what she wrote from seeing it.
It isn’t the first time, sadly, a woman covering sports has been accused of such acts but it usually comes from the male gender and not a “mean girl.” But social media anymore has become a way for athletes (and the rest of us) to react immediately to a comment or situation when maybe we need to step back for a moment and gather our emotions and thoughts before pecking out that post.
When I covered high school sports, there was a coach who had a rule for parents and he told them each year at the beginning of the season. The rule was that no parent was to approach the coaching staff about the role their child played in a game for at least 24 hours after the game was completed. This, he explained, gave everyone time to “cool off” and digest everything and not let adrenaline and emotions take over rational thoughts and cause adverse reactions. It sounds simple but you’d be surprised how difficult that was for some people to swallow and adhere to some nights.
As a reporter, I was programmed to stay away from giving my opinion on certain topics or stories so as to remain neutral in the eyes of the public so I admit that I am conditioned in a lot of ways to stay away from controversial or hot topics on social media platforms for the most part. I do scroll through my feed and my Twitter account and see the many discussions and there are times I want to chime in, but I prefer to save my opinions for when I am face-to-face with the person proposing the question or subject so I can explain myself in more than 140 characters. Yes, I am old school and I am OK with that.
For the purposes of this piece, however, I would like to offer all of you – athletes, their families and friends, the general public – some words of advice. Before you post something or comment on someone else’s post, ask yourself these three basic questions: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?
If you can answer yes to all three of those, then post away. If you hesitate on any of those three, maybe use the 24-hour rule. If you sleep on it and feel just as compelled to post the next day, more power to you but at least you allowed yourself time to reflect and maybe gather more information before saying something you can’t take back. Remember, once it’s out there on the internet, it never truly disappears so be sure you are ready to stand by your post should you need to defend it.
Enjoy the fall sports, friends, summer doldrums are over!