We seem to require an infinite number of examples on the dangers of what we post on social media, so here's another one:
Co-workers Lindsay Stone, 30, and Jamie Schuh, 38, were visiting the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery when Schuh snapped a picture of Stone giving the finger in front of a sign that called for "Silence and Respect."
Intending it as a "visual pun" on the sign, Stone then uploaded the bird-flipping photo to her Facebook page, hoping her friends would get the joke.
Only, as Gawker reports, many of them didn't. Soon Stone's photo was flooded with a ream of angry comments. Before she deleted both the offending image and the written responses, the popular media site accessed a screenshot of Stone's online explanation.
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"Whoa whoa whoa... wait," the Plymouth, Mass. resident wrote on Oct. 20. "This is just us, being the douchebags that we are, challenging authority in general. Much like the pic posted the night before, of me smoking right next to a no smoking sign. OBVIOUSLY we meant NO disrespect to people that serve or have served our country."
As these things often work, however, the photo caught the attention of someone who wasn't interested in any reasoning.
Soon a group dedicated to getting Stone fired from her job sprang up on Facebook. To date, "Fire Lindsay Stone" has amassed over 19,000 "likes," and includes enraged commentary from the page's creator, an Iraq War veteran, along with harsh words from hundreds of commenters who call for things that make losing a job seem like the mildest consequence.
The backlash appears to be working. According to Cape Cod Times, Stone and Schuh have both been placed on unpaid leave by their employer, LIFE Inc., a non-profit that assists adults with special needs.
"We are appalled at what they represented, what they desecrated," the organization's chief financial officer told the paper. "We are absolutely outraged. It does not reflect the values of LIFE."
Stone and Schuh have since released a joint statement in the Boston Herald, reiterating that they in no way intended to disrespect the men and women who bravely served their country.
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"We sincerely apologize for all the pain we have caused by posting the picture we took in Washington DC on Facebook. While posted on a public forum, the picture was intended only for our own amusement. We never meant any disrespect to any of the people nationwide who have served this country and defended our freedom so valiantly," they wrote.
Meanwhile, Stone's father told the Herald his daughter deeply regrets the photo, but that it also "appalled" him when he first got wind of the situation.
Whether you feel Stone has been the victim of an unfair witch-hunt or that she deserves everything she gets, the fact remains that it only took one personal photo posted on a semi-private forum to jeopardize a young woman's career and indefinitely tarnish her reputation.
How many more horrible cautionary tales do we need?