Should social media be sinking so many?

All of the major federal political parties have seen one or more of their candidates forced to drop out of the race due to social media.

All of the major federal political parties have seen one or more of their candidates forced to drop out of the race due to things they’ve posted on social media.

Right here in the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding Maria Manna resigned as the Liberal candidate after Facebook posts several years old surfaced where she questioned the official explanation of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Some of the social media gaffes have been more scandalous or upsetting in nature.

It’s pretty easy to understand why the guy who urinated in the coffee cup, on video, at somebody else’s home where he had been hired to do a job became an undesirable to the Conservatives.

That one wasn’t social media, but instead hidden camera footage from CBC’s Marketplace.

Nevertheless, it’s still on-trend with technologies tanking hopefuls’ chances.

Then there was the guy making crank calls in Youtube videos that the Conservatives had to write off.

And the NDP candidate who called security fencing at Auschwitz “phallic” in a Facebook comment on a photo that had been posted.

And the Liberal candidate from Victoria who made controversial Facebook comments about mosques and Israel.

It’s all lifted out of context, of course, during an election campaign.

Most of these posts were likely made long before the people in question ever considered running for political office.

And the conversations they were a part of, with friends, online, take on a whole different tone when looked at months or even years after the fact.

Consider how you would feel if there was a transcript available from every conversation you’ve ever had with those in your family and social circle — would you come out smelling like a rose? Or have you maybe said something in the heat of the moment that was ill-considered? Off-colour? Or perhaps with the benefit of time, you’ve just changed your mind.

Or maybe, like Maria Manna, you just hold an opinion that isn’t in the mainstream (though we’ve heard plenty of others who share her view).

Social media is more and more providing that transcript of your life. Are future candidates going to have to answer for their teenage Facebook posts and tweets?

Some, like the pee-er, are an easy bye bye. With others it’s more of a grey area.

Are the voters really that unforgiving? Or is it the parties that are running more scared than they need to be?

Politicians shouldn’t have to have been saints from birth.

Let’s put away the sledgehammer when there’s just a few flies to swat.

Cowichan Valley Citizen