Understandably Paris Brown has turned down her appointment as Youth Police and Crime Commissioner in Kent. This was probably inevitable once the Kent police themselves started to investigate the legality of Ms Brown’s contentious Tweets.
Credit to her for facing the media though. As Commissioner Ann Barnes’ 9 April statement points out, Ms Brown shows courage by appearing publically to withdraw from the job.
Second time around, the Kent recruitment panel will have to find someone who hasn’t thrown words around casually online, since registering on Twitter. A clean searchable history means that the next Youth Commissioner will be able to concentrate on their post, without the need for explanations of the ‘right’ context of their language.
Mind you, speech was ephemeral when I was 17. I am glad I am not accountable for some of the things I said then, or since. I would have been mortified to have my youthful thoughts captured and shared online. I’m not sure how I would have handled being a headline item within a 24 hour news cycle.
Coincidentally a recent article in the Guardian newspaper shows that information from the pre-digital era can still turn up on search engines, whether or not it is an accurate reflection of the subject. That’s a sobering thought.
Perhaps the learning point from these events is this: however detailed your life-plan is everyone makes mistakes, some of which are large enough to be subject to scrutiny by prospective employers, partners, in-laws and the press. Handling the scrutiny gracefully is part of the the key to managing the long-term impact of those mistakes.