How Social Media Can Change Your Reality: The Case of Greg Schiano and the Tennessee Head Coaching Position (from December 1, 2017 – for The Daily Nerv)

Photo via Business Insider — http://www.businessinsider.com/greg-schiano-fired-bucs-2013-12

Social media is a strange beast. It provides many of its fans with information faster than any form of media that has ever existed, and all at their fingertips too. Today, media is not just in some select group of people’s hands in a distant studio somewhere. Now, those without any specific credentials in media production can be progenitors of it (including this writer).

As exciting as social media has become, it has also brought something of a shallowness to many of its users. People can take snippets of this and memes of that to create an image of something else altogether, which may be accepted as being true or matching reality by others. Attaining, researching, and sharing credible evidence would apparently take too long. Therefore, information can be shared many times or go viral and not have a shred of truth to what is being revealed or expressed. The virality of something does not have to equal the veracity of it.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, while speaking to students and faculty at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), gave a thoughtful statement on the growing use of social media as the main origin for people to assess news: “The challenge we all face is that it is easier to acquire superficial bits of information, and yet what makes you succeed in life is depth of knowledge. We have created this mechanism of entertainment that allows you to very quickly graze and think that you know a lot, and actually that’s a very shallow understanding of what you actually need to know.” This challenge is quite difficult (at the moment) to overcome as many social media users continue to enjoy the ease of acquiring information quickly and without the pressing thought of making sure its factual.

Nevertheless, what is also forgotten by many is that information that has bits of falsehood mixed in with some truths can negatively effect people’s judgement and cause negative repercussions to someone else. This was the odd case of Greg Schiano and his disrupted deal with Tennessee.

This past Sunday afternoon, news had been released of a deal that was pending for Greg Schiano to become the head coach of the University of Tennessee. Apparently, the deal was moving steadily along and it looked to be close to finalizing everything.

Well, unfortunately for Schiano, Tennessee fans got wind of the news and decided to express their dissent in a rather dramatic fashion. He may have had the job initially, but things quickly change when news spreads like wildfire on social media. When the word spread about Schiano being the University of Tennessee’s next head coach, an impactful protest began to take place outside of the school’s Anderson Student Center and Neyland Stadium and on Twitter.

Some folks believed that Schiano’s Penn State past and connection to Jerry Sandusky came back to haunt him. Although an allegation was made about Schiano seeing Sandusky abusing a boy, he has denied it and, as is pointed out in one article, he was never charged with any crime or sued. Plus, he had been vetted by Tennessee officials, but apparently that did not stop one young man who actually spray painted a rock on the university’s campus.

Regardless of what is true or not about Greg Schiano and his time at Penn State, at least partially because of his time there and his involvement (or lack thereof) in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, his history followed him and Tennessee Vols fans brought it up as reason that he should not be the next head coach for the school. He had already signed a memorandum of understanding for the job, but things soured so quickly and aggressively, there was one way to proceed, and that was to part ways before it got worse.

This is how social media can work against you in under 24 hours: one’s reality may start out bright and end up being something altogether different that is not in your favor.

Originally published on The Daily Nerv – December 1, 2017

For more of Jerome’s writing, please check out his website. Then, follow him on Twitter and/or like his Facebook page. His Project 21 Black Leadership Network National Advisory Council member page is here. YouTube channel here.

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