Stop using age to justify past mistakes

By Erianne Lewis | Staff Writer

Recently, I have been hearing this phrase a lot: “They were young and didn’t know better,” and to be frank, I am over it. Every day it seems someone new is in the headlines for a series of tweets, videos or pictures that have been released of them saying or doing racist, derogatory or offensive things in their past.

I do believe people make mistakes, and many people can relate to saying or doing something that they regret. However, I also believe it is important for people to own up to their actions and not blame it on their age. On top of that, some things are inexcusable and should be on the list of things “you know not to say or do” or especially not post on social media. Yes, “times are changing,” and beliefs are shifting, but that should not be used as a justification for insulting comments, regardless of when they were said or posted. I am in no way saying that I should be in control of deciding what is inexcusable and what is not, this is simply my opinion.

The most recent example I have seen — and partially the inspiration for this column — is former Bachelor alumna Taylor Nolan’s tweets from 2011-2013 that were recently brought to light. The tweets directly targeted many groups such as the LBGTQ, Asian, Jewish and disabled communities.

In Nolan’s initial “apology” for the tweets — and statement on why she had not deleted them — she said “I never deleted those tweets for a reason, because they’ve been a part of my journey since way before going [on] The Bachelor. I didn’t need anyone to call those things out to me to know they were wrong; I’ve been doing that work on my own for the last 10 years, and it’s the same work I do today and the same work I will continue doing for the rest of my life.”

Many people believed that her initial “apology” was full of excuses and that she was deflecting from addressing the real issue. Personally, I must agree. Nolan has since issued a formal apology after receiving backlash from her initial statement. Nolan, a psychotherapist, said that those were views she held eight plus years ago and that they are “completely removed from the values and principles [she] hold[s] today.” Some people felt that Nolan was alluding to the fact that she was much younger at the time she tweeted those things as being a potential “excuse” for her actions and to receive sympathy.

One of Nolan’s many offensive tweets was written in 2011. At the time, she was 18 years old. The tweet read, “Indian guys: please shower before hitting the club or coming anywhere near me #thanks.” A tweet from 2012 read, “Cold stone population: fat Asians…fat white people…Jews…and skinny black ppl. #hmm.” Another tweet from 2012 read, “no wonder this lady is fat and has a HUGE #FUPA….2 regular coke bottles on her desk…TWO…NOT DIET..#youwonderwhyyourfat #commonsense.”

Nolan also allegedly wrote in a resurfaced tweet: “Why do ppl feel the need to share their rape stories in class….awkward.”

I honestly do not understand what led her to tweet such disrespectful things. While many people do agree that the things she said were very wrong, regardless of how old she was, I still came across comments (before Nolan disabled comments on her Instagram) of people saying that they still supported her and believed that since she was “young” when the comments were tweeted and that somehow makes it okay. I was honestly at a loss for words. What is it going to take for people to stop using this “excuse?”

Now, I can only speak for myself, but as an 18-year-old, I would never even think something like that, let alone tweet it. I am sure many other people would agree with me on that. There are so many other young people out there not saying or doing hurtful things, so therefore how can this be an excuse?

I hope the biggest take away is to just be mindful of what you not only post on social media but also to be mindful of what you say. Before you say or post something, think to yourself, “Is this insensitive?” If it is, don’t say or post it. It’s as simple as that. It is important to remember that once you put something out there, it can’t be taken back, and there are consequences for all actions.