JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Have you ever done something you wish you could take back? Said something mean … wrote something inappropriate … behaved in a way that was disrespectful? I’m sure you have or you wouldn’t be human.
However, in today’s society some of these behaviors never go away, even if you tried to delete them. They are documented in Facebook status updates, Instagram photos, Vine videos and on a number of other social media sites. And it only takes a second for your documented actions to go viral.
You may know a few of our fellow Airmen (and Soldiers) recently made headline news for all the wrong reasons. Within the last few weeks photos that were taken several years ago popped up on a number of official Air Force Facebook pages, including ours. These photos show Airmen acting in a way that is utterly disrespectful and is not consistent with the Air Force’s Core Values.
There is no need to perpetuate the situation by describing the photos to you, but as you can imagine one photo of one Airman can taint the American public’s view on the Air Force and the type of people we employ, as a whole.
As an Airman, you have the duty to be an ambassador for the U.S. Air Force; and as a recruiter, you have an additional duty to inspire others to want to join this world-class team. Therefore, you must always be cognizant of your actions … in and out of uniform.
There is no margin for error in today’s digital world where everyone has a camera and a video recording device in the palm of their hands. Air Force Instruction 1-1, “Air Force Standards,” outlines what your responsibilities and standards of conduct are as an Airman. It also outlines the responsible use of social media and how it applies professionally and personally. Every Airman should be acutely aware of this AFI and its contents. When everything is laid out in front of you, there are no excuses about not knowing what you can and cannot do on social media.
Unfortunately, there are still some individuals who neglect to stop and think before they act. For those in the news recently, something they may have found funny in the moment is now haunting them. And in one case, there were multiple people in the situation, and not one person thought to stop and think about the consequences of what they were about to do. The result … their images as Airmen are forever corrupted.
Social media is not the enemy. It’s actually a fantastic venue to inspire and talk to others about what the Air Force has to offer, what it’s like to be part of something bigger than yourself, and what an honor it is to be an Airman. In your personal life, it’s a lifeline to friends near and far.
You, in fact, can be your own worst enemy. Don’t become the subject of the next viral photo or video. Hold on to your personal self-worth and live by the Air Force’s Core Values daily. Think before you act and teach your Delayed Entry Program recruits to do the same. Ensure they join the Air Force with a thorough understanding of the responsibilities they are inheriting as an Airman.
Be a great Airman first and ensure the Air Force image — and your image — always mirror the core values.