Social media is a great tool for Soldiers to stay informed, meet new friends and to keep in-touch with family when abroad.
When you use social media with those goals in mind, you’re implementing sound social media application and utilizing these sites as a communication tool rather than a method of self-destruction. It’s when these tools turn into a place to post your dirty laundry, or grievances – it does nothing more than embarrasses yourself and humiliates your fellow brothers and sisters.
In recent months the Army has witnessed a sporadic episode of misconduct, unprofessionalism, and darn right ugliness with regards to the public behavior Soldiers have displayed on social media.
The Army has served up well-deserved punishment for such behavior – the profession’s way of hitting the imaginary dislike button on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A recent example of wrongdoing went viral last month when a United States Army Soldier snapped a selfie and posted it on Instagram. Private First Class Tariqka Sheffey, attached to 59th Quartermaster Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Carson, Colo., posted a photo of herself dressed in the Army Combat Uniform while hunched down in her vehicle, with the caption reading:
“This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”
Sheffey’s photo went viral and was seen throughout many predominant news organizations and even mocked during popular late night television. Sheffey was shamed by the military community for such a lack of disrespect to the flag and military customs. According to the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office, command administrative action took place. However, they could not release details under the privacy act.
Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen J. Travers, command sergeant major of the National Training Center commented on the recent incident involving Sheffey.
“First and foremost, this takes away the trust our nation has with our Army and our Soldiers,” Travers said. “As professional Soldiers, it’s our responsibility – all of us – to always exhibit the highest moral standards and epitomize the honor of our service.
“I believe all Soldiers have the right to express themselves. However, as Soldiers and especially when in uniform, they should act the way they think their nation should perceive them – as professionals willing to support and defend the Constitution and win our nation’s wars. If they can’t behave like that, perhaps they should finish their obligation and step aside for those willing to do so.”
Social media will continually grow and evolve. Soldiers will continue to set themselves apart by doing great things for their country. With that in mind, it’s important to note that as a member of the military community you are a part of something bigger. Before you hit “post”, think how that message will affect you and the Army because once you post something onto the internet it only takes a matter of seconds for someone to scoop that information up, or take a screen shot. If you decide to use social media, use it as a morale builder not a career ender.