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Conversations come and go, internet posts stay forever

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- With the rise of social media, smart phones, and the Internet as a whole, the World Wide Web has become a large and mysterious place.

From Internet insurgents and keyboard warriors to trolls and cyber bullies, everyone has either been a victim or a culprit of saying something they should not have on the Internet.

This diverse platform has made it easier for people to publicly complain about their jobs, express negative opinions about bosses and subordinates, and overall, just say something stupid to someone.

However, the biggest mistake people make is using their personal web accounts to post comments without taking heed that, once something is said or posted on the Internet, it will stay indefinitely.

It might be too late to try and delete the posted comment - depending on how quickly one tries to retract the post, others have most likely already seen it, screenshot it, and sent it to their friends.

I know too well how these situations play out.

I was running for class president during my junior year and tried the classic "smear" campaign. I never said anything racist, sexist or derogatory, but instead posted a statement saying my opponent did not believe in Santa or know how to tie her shoes.

I did not think those comments were harsh or bad in any way, more so juvenile stuff. However, what got me in trouble was what my comments paved the way for.

Most responses were positive, posting supportive words for my candidacy, but others were destructive, using my comments as sort of permission to bash my opponents.

I could have prevented this misunderstanding by simply not posting anything on the Internet and definitely would not have been kicked out of the race. 

The effects of our digital footprint expand much more than we realize, and it is our duty as representatives of the military to watch what we say and lead by example.

Because if we don't watch what we say, everyone else will.

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