Social media and our climate

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Social media has become an intricate piece of our everyday lives. Most of us can admit we spend an extensive amount of time communicating to family and friends via some form of social media.
Unfortunately, social media can also be used as a negative outlet which can lead to perceived discrimination and/or harassment.

An Airman can quickly cross a line between friendly conversation and harassing conduct by texting or posting images, which are in direct violation of the Air Force Discrimination/Harassment Policy. These violations can also include sexting (the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone), posting inappropriate pictures via Twitter/Facebook, and even as severe as posting racist comments via any form of social media.

We must not forget that professionalism does not stop when you leave the workplace and it also does not stop when we turn on our phone or computer. With just one click it is very easy for a text or post to be seen, read and interpreted as something completely different than what was originally intended. It is also easy for some Airmen to use this as an avenue of communication and say things they would never say or do in front of other individuals. Before they know it, with that one click of a button every emotional thought and feeling they’ve had goes viral and can never be taken back.

As military professionals we must remember that DOD instruction, AFI 1-1, 2.15, reminds us, “You are personally responsible for what you say and post on social networking services and any other medium. Regardless of the method of communication used, Air Force standards must be observed at all times, both on and off-duty.”

The Equal Opportunity (EO) office can be utilized to assist Airmen in processing and preventing climate issues involving the negative use of social media and technology. We can do this in many ways including training venues, such as commanders calls, core group discussions and any of our human relations education training.

A healthy human relations climate is our ultimate goal and we have a responsibility in ensuring we identify, assess and remove any and all EO barriers, to include negative impacts social media can have on an installation’s human relations climate. Those conversations are vital between the EO office and Team Whiteman to ensure a healthy climate is established and maintained.

For any question or concerns regarding the EO program, please contact our staff at 660-687-5737.