The Price Of Fame In The Age Of Social Media
Only in 2019 could the feel-good story of the year be turned into a disaster in a matter of hours. Carson King, the football fan who turned his Venmo account into a million-dollar fundraiser for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, was knocked off his pedestal. All because of something he posted on Twitter when he was 16 years old.
How did it happen? The Des Moines Register assigned a reporter to interview King. He was doing his required background research on his subject and discovered several tweets from 2012. They were racist and inappropriate, to say the least. The reporter asked King about them, and he expressed deep regret over them. The Register then had to make the decision of whether or not to include them in their profile of King. In the end, they decided to put them in a paragraph at the very end of the story. They buried it. But the story got out anyway. King decided to get ahead of the story and held a press conference. He apologized for the tweets. The story was out.
After that story aired on local TV, Busch Light's parent company, Anheuser Busch, announced that it would honor its pledge to the hospital, but would be severing all ties to King in the future. The story exploded on social media and people began demanding a boycott of the Des Moines Register and Busch Light.
Late Wednesday (9/25) morning, Venmo released this statement to KCRG:
Venmo’s decision to match the money raised for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital was inspired by the kindness of the entire Venmo community and their desire to support a worthy cause. Our intent has never changed, and we continue to honor our pledge to support the patients, families and staff members of the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.
The real tragedy in this story is, of course, Carson King. What 16-year-old hasn't said or done things that they regret? I know I sure did. I just didn't have social media around to make sure everyone knew how naive I really was. I really feel this will still only be a slight blemish on an otherwise amazing story. His $1 million-plus donation the University of Iowa Children's Hospital will stand as one of the greatest and most genuine philanthropic events we've ever seen.
But King's story should also serve as a warning. Right or wrong, in the day and age we live in, what you post on social media matters. Yes, free speech is still free. But that doesn't mean you're 'free' from the consequences. Remember that the next time you take to Facebook or Twitter to blast a rival or anyone else you disagree with. At least there is one group of people who won't give a rip about this story. The kids in Iowa City. They'll always view Carson King for what he is. An Iowa Legend. Even legends have chapters that don't end well.
[via Des Moines Register]