A tweet is worth a thousand characters: Sam Houston State student illustrates what not to post

Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth was shot in the back 15 times last week while filling up his police cruiser at a gas station. What’s left of the story? How a student at Sam Houston State University claimed he deserved to die because of his “creepy perv eyes.”

Since the arrest and conviction of gunman Shannon Miles, who has been said to have a history of mental illness-related aggravated assault, the Internet cannot stop buzzing about how Monica Foy was arrested (for unrelated reasons) shortly after her careless tweet.

What’s more is that there have been more than 42,000 accumulated comments and tweets assaulting Foy’s character, appearance, affiliations and more. She’s received threats of all sorts and been made the personal target of a Texas journalist with an enormous Twitter following.

Recently, an article from New York Magazine has come to the forefront of the conversation — with Foy commenting on the matter. She explains her tweet was never meant to be seen by the masses. Rather, considering her follower count was a mere 20 friends and family, it was meant to be a private comment shedding light on the “double standard on display in the aftermath of Goforth’s death: When an unarmed person of color is killed by police, she said, there’s often an immediate effort to prove that they were ‘no angel’… but when a white person is killed, people seem much more able to accept the fact that some killings are simply unjustified.”

However justifiable she felt her opinion was, her tweet’s message quickly became known as the most malicious comment concerning the death of a policeman — warranting a cyber-bullying firestorm.

In this day, no one should expect their tweet in response to an incredibly nationally-relevant and sensitive topic to go unseen. Regardless of the number of followers one possesses, a single follower can choose to share the message, which can be retweeted. The original message then can be reviewed thousands of times before the next click of a mouse. If a message isn’t meant to be shared with the world, please stay off of Twitter and Facebook with your opinion. It’s called social media for a reason.

Secondly, this one tweet about how a cop “deserves” to die is gaining more attention than the thousands of others tweeted per day. On both sides of the spectrum, you can either find messages in support of killing cops or messages from cops in support of killing “vagrants” or protesters. However, this one woman is absorbing the brunt of the hate. In no way should we defend the comment about someone deserving to die. But maybe it does take a tiny tweet to magnify the issue at hand.

Lastly, the tragic death of a human has once again been pushed to the wayside to make room for shaming and cyber stone-throwing. Regardless of the job one possesses on this earth, the loss of life is one to be mourned. The family is to be consoled and the legacy of life is to be tearfully remembered — not tainted.

If no other time, it’s now we should elect to be responsible consumers and creators of media. Be thoughtful about tweeting. Listen to the age-old advice of mothers everywhere, and don’t say something if it’s blatantly intended to hurt someone. For consumers, push the garbage to the trashcan. Ignore the despicable words and smother humanity with comfort in times of grief. By making light of the harmful words one person says, it becomes the memory of the situation. It’s time to change the way this works. It’s time to wise up. It’s time to recognize our words go far beyond ourselves.