You may have heard the story of Carson King’s troubles with tweeting. If not, here is the story.
Carson King raised more than $1 million for an Iowa children’s hospital, borne out of a request for beer money on national TV. But old racist tweets ended his relationship with the beer company that promised to match his fundraising.
Anheuser-Busch announced it would no longer associate with King after he admitted posting two offensive tweets in 2012 when he was a 16-year-old high school student.
“Carson King had multiple social media posts that do not align with our values as a brand or as a company and we will have no further association with him,” the company said in a statement to CNN.
The 24-year-old shot to fame when he appeared on ESPN’s “College GameDay” program earlier this month, holding a sign that said “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished” with his Venmo username.
Donations poured in, and after buying one case of Busch Light, he said he decided to send the rest of money to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Anheuser-Busch and Venmo promised to match whatever King could raise.
King said a Des Moines Register reporter pointed out the tweets while interviewing King for a profile, which prompted him to hold a press conference Tuesday before the paper’s story was published.
One of the tweets compared black mothers to gorillas and another joked about black people who were killed in the Holocaust, the Des Moines Register reported.
One might wonder why it was necessary for the reporter, Aaron Calvin to go through years worth of tweets searching for offensive comments in what ought to have been simply a feel-good, human interest story. These racist tweets did not simply surface. Calvin had to spend some time going through King’s twitter feed. Why? One might also recall the adage that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones since it did not take long for offended readers to uncover offensive tweets by Calvin, which led to his being fired from the Des Moines Register.
What I wonder most is that whenever you hear about someone making some obnoxious, inappropriate, or racist joke or comment on social media, it always seems to be on Twitter. Why is this? What is it about Twitter that seems to bring out the worst in its users? Is it the 280 character limit? Does this character limit make it impossible to make nuanced observations, encouraging tweeters to make short, snarky remarks? Does the ease of tweeting whatever thoughts are on the top of one’s head make reflection and discretion especially difficult? Is there some sort of dopamine rush from seeing your tweets retweeted and commented upon, the more controversial, the more likely to become viral? Does online anonymity make it easy to be a jerk? What is it?
Whatever it is, it seems to me that of all the social media platforms that have come to infest our online world, Twitter is easily the worst. Twitter really does seem to bring out the worst in its users, encouraging them to express their most negative ruminations and setting people against one another. If the Devil were to design a social media platform specifically to bring as many people to Hell as possible, or to make the earth a hell, he would design something very much like Twitter. In fact, has anyone checked Jack Dorsey for horns and cloven hooves?
Whatever the case, we are all going to have to be more careful about what we post on social media, and maybe we should avoid twitter altogether. Perhaps we should adopt the adage that whatever you wouldn’t say in front of your mother, or a live audience, you should say on social media. Maybe there should be some sort of statute of limitations. Surely, something that someone posted ten years ago when they were younger and less mature is not very relevant to the person they are now. We should also learn to be more tolerant of one another and to judge someone based on a single tweet. Just because someone makes an obnoxious comment, that does not make them a bad person. We should judge one another if we must judge at all, on the totality of their lives, and not on a single incident. Carson King seems to be a good man. He didn’t have to give millions of dollars to the children’s hospital. He could have kept it all to buy beer. A couple of racist tweets from years ago do not make him a bad person. None of us should be judged by the most foolish things we have done.