Looking at society today, Americans have nearly too much access to the lives of those in the limelight. Romance, scandals, triumphs or failures: Social media’s immediate, easy access to information has caused many an uproar all across the globe, and rightfully so.
Within the past decade, numerous scandals have popped up all over the internet around everyone’s favorite celebrities. In 2017, there were at least 29 men in entertainment, business and the news media accused of sexual misconduct. This information is unsettling but valuable to society. Ignorance is not bliss, but truth is not an easy pill to swallow, either.
Whether or not this type of access to information is a blessing or a curse is still undecided by many. However, this visibility does give us one thing: accountability. People can no longer hide from the controversial actions or words in their past. Thanks to the internet, people are able to expose controversial acts and force those in the public eye to own up to or make amends for what they have done in the past.
With each generation comes a less passive attitude and a more progressive demand for equality, honesty and true justice for all. Young Americans are looking at how public figures represent themselves now, as well as their past behavior.
In the digital age, nothing is private. Life is constantly being recorded or photographed and shared online, and with this comes the ability to research anything. Comedian Kevin Hart learned this when he lost his opportunity to host the Oscars over homophobic tweets from 2011. Hart’s tweets are nearly eight years old, but it is still not acceptable behavior, and social media users called him out.
It is a pivotal moment for those exposed: Disregard the past or correct themselves, apologize and try to move forward in a more positive direction. Many celebrities have failed at this such as Logan Paul and others with, “I’m sorry but…” apologies.
Digging up the past is a growing trend in social media and no one is safe. As scary as it might seem, we are owed this truth. Holding powerful figures accountable is causing a cultural shift in a more progressive direction.
Many say that what is in the past should stay there — I disagree. The past does not define a person, but it does speak to one’s character. No one person, or collection of people online, should be judge and jury, but to move society in a positive direction we have to consider to whom we are giving a platform and if it is helpful or harmful.
That accountability comes with the responsibility to look at context and not judge people based on single tweet or 10-second video clip.
Many millennials mistake social media as a personal diary, which leaves them more exposed than previous generations, but it can also be a force for good if used wisely: The internet has the potential to ruin careers and lives, but it can also keep society in check.