Kaitlan Collins and I are the same age; we’re both 26 years old. When we were kids, most homes had just one family computer and the internet was pretty slow and not good for much more than solitaire and the occasional email. But by the time we got to high school, everything had changed.
The computer was no longer just something we fought our siblings or parents to use so we could chat for hours on AIM; now computers were iPhones and Androids we snuck into class, where we passed digital notes to and from our classmates.
We’re the last generation of American kids who remember life before dial-up. My young niece and nephew won’t have any memory of 9/11 or of corded phones or of the days before high-speed internet and high-definition TVs.
Kaitlan and I have technology to thank for even making our careers possible. Before the dawn of the internet, the 24-hour news cycle and social media, it’s possible neither of us would be in the careers we enjoy today.
But that doesn’t come without a cost.
Technology has made permanent what was once temporary, exchanging perishable paper notes for eternal digital records. Paper goes away; we don’t always have to answer for stupid messages we scrawled onto Post-It notes several years ago to fleeting crushes or frenemies, because they most likely don’t exist anymore. But that’s not the case with our tweets, texts and Facebook updates — they’re forever.
Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, is facing an onslaught of attacks right now over her digital notes: old tweets she posted in college and now inevitably regrets.
A group called the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative advocacy organization friendly toward the LGBTQ community, recently resurrected some of Kaitlan’s tweets from a few years ago. The tweets, which I won’t repost here, are condescending and demeaning.
When I was in college, I used ignorant language in a few tweets to my friends. It was immature but it doesn’t represent the way I feel at all. I regret it and apologize.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 7, 2018
Some on the right are using Kaitlan as a prop to expose just how hypocritical they perceive liberals to be. It’s their prerogative to do that, but they shouldn’t be attempting to ruin the career of a 26-year-old journalist in the process.
We’ve all done things — and written things — we aren’t proud of, but that shouldn’t disqualify us from being better in the future. Life is a constant learning process; we should constantly strive to be better versions of ourselves.
Dredging up tweets from seven years ago — something that wouldn’t even be possible for those who came of age before the internet and social media — just doesn’t seem fair or very decent in this case.
Scripture is always telling us to look to the future. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, the apostle Paul wrote that our spirits “are being renewed every day.” In Luke 2:52, we read, “Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.”
In Proverbs 3:13, it’s written, “Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding.”
The difference between Kaitlan’s and my generation and the generations before us, is there can be a record of our growth, a constant shadow of our unwise decisions looming over our better selves. Her tweets shouldn’t be picked apart and compared to the woman she is today.
We do have the internet to thank for our careers, but maybe we were kinder to one another when the computer was for solitaire instead of social media.