This is a picture on Facebook that was recently pointed out to me, posted by Peter Shankman, regarding the debacle that has now been dubbed “Weinergate.” I am inclined to agree with Mr. Shankman that “Weinergate” is the fault of a particular person being stupid, rather than an indictment of social media.

Social media is just another tool that can be used for either good or for evil. (I know that might sound drastic but I’m trying to make a point here.)  There are about millions of twitter users and almost 65 MILLION tweets published per day.   Now, like anything else, some people don’t do it well and make stupid decisions when tweeting.   That’s not Twitter’s fault, just as Weinergate isn’t social media’s fault.  Arguing that social media is responsible for Weinergate is like saying text messages are responsible for sexting and telephones are at fault for telemarketers that call you on your personal time.

Here’s my first piece of advice for those identifying social media as the problem – Stop, just stop.   Well then, who is to blame, you ask?

The congressman himself!

  • Social media didn’t send pictures and messages via every communication medium available, the Congressman did.
  • Social media didn’t make the mistake of sending a tweet to the masses as opposed to a personal message, the Congressman did.
  • Social media didn’t neglect to equip the Congressman’s account with adequate privacy settings, the Congressman did.

I think you get the point.   I have been taught a good rule of thumb when it comes to social media…

If you wouldn’t want your mother seeing it on the front page of the newspaper, then don’t post it.

Perhaps I’m alone here, but it’s not the form of communication that is at fault, it’s the Congressman choosing to share potentially incriminating messages.  And please, don’t get me wrong, what the Congressman does in his private life is none of my business and I’m not judging his decision to send the message.   All I’m saying is that it would have been better had the message remained private and, considering it’s not, the Congressman should be held accountable for his actions.

Basically, as Jack White says, you can’t take the effect and make it the cause.

Social media is the forum that drove the fiasco’s effect, sure, but the Congressman was the cause.   Let’s quit blaming technology for the stupid decisions of humanity.