Ross Kressel got lucky.
The College of Charleston student body president had a moment of clarity about his recent social media transgressions, which involved taking potshots at other members of the student body -- and sometimes at other students' bodies -- under a now-defunct Twitter account.
He squeaked by without losing his job because of it, though he ought to be keenly aware that the student senate's overwhelming "no confidence" vote is academia's equivalent of asking him to resign.
Nevertheless, he learned something after his poorly worded Twitter posts hit the public: "If it would upset your mom, don't post it."
If only some of the commenters on postandcourier.com would heed that advice.
Hiding behind anonymity
For most of us at the paper, the comments on our website are a frequent source of frustration, disgust and embarrassment.
It's a discussion that's been going on at the highest levels (far above my pay grade) for nearly as long as we have had comments.
For every well-reasoned debate between commenters (and, yes, there really are some of those), there seem to be 10 times as many vicious screeds about people who are charged with but not convicted of a crime, or people who have died.
We're often left advising people to ignore the comments if they can -- not an ideal solution for anyone.
Yes, sometimes we turn off comments. Probably not often enough, and certainly not often enough to assuage people who have just lost a loved one. The father who called Friday asking why we let people say nasty things about his son who died in an accident is a perfect example.
Even before becoming digital editor, I was in favor of us moving to a commenting system that provided more transparency, accountability and, (I hope) by extension, more civility. It's where the industry is heading, and it's about time. Now we're poised to make that leap as well.
Let's face it, the folks who write letters to the editor have their opinions published with their names and partial addresses. Double checking that you are who you say you are to the tune of up to 20 letters a day is time consuming. Trying to read, let alone verify, the hundreds of comments posted online every day would be virtually impossible.
And, of course, the people who fill this slot on the front of the Local & State section have our photos, our contact info and our names attached to what we write. No one is shy about saying what they think about what we have to say either, even if they sometimes don't leave their names or numbers after they fill up our voicemail boxes.
Plain and simple, Kressel should have thought before he tweeted such gems as "funny looking flaming black kid thinks he's funny" or "Bitchy VP is being bitchy."
Twitter doesn't provide anonymity, even though it feels more removed than Facebook or Google+.
What will Kressel get out of all this? Maybe a gut check before he hits "send" the next time.
It's too bad some other people haven't learned that lesson.
So now is as good a time as any to reveal that we're going to move to a social media sign-on system, sooner rather than later. The time has come to get rid of anonymous comments on postandcourier.com.
Seems only fair.