When Marisa Martin woke up on Wednesday, she had no idea the ride she was in for.
That’s a testament to how powerful social media has become in our world. One mistake can bring down everything a person has worked for.
Martin, a member of Hilton Head Prep’s Class of 2011 and former Dolphins basketball player, attends the University of Alabama where she is a reporter for ESPNU’s Campus Connection.
Campus Connection is an program that allows student reporters to produce content or aid in production. The reporters are unpaid and have a very loose affiliation with the network. If one of ESPNU’s hundreds of correspondents around the country produces something of note, the network will consider running it.
On Wednesday, there was a shooting on Florida State University’s campus. The gunman was killed, but three people were wounded.
A post on Martin’s Twitter account during the incident read, “Reported gunman on the FSU campus. Maybe he is heading for Jameis,” referring to the Seminoles much-maligned (maybe rightfully so) quarterback.
Boom goes the dynamite!
Martin’s Twitter account blew up with criticism. Her 859 followers must have seemed like tens of thousands.
Who in their right mind, the Twitterverse wanted to know, would use an incident like a school shooting as an opportunity to tell one more Jameis Winston joke? At best, she had to be immature. At worst, inhuman.
Martin attempted to defend herself in several Tweets. “Since apparently I cant make a joke in all seriousness I hope everyone at FSU is safe & that the gunman is found. But I stand by my opinions,” she posted, digging the hole deeper.
Eventually, Martin deactivated her Twitter account. She later posted on the Alabama Campus Connection account that her personal account had been hacked.
Was Martin responsible for those posts or is the most common Twitter-mistake defense — “I got hacked!” — actually true in this case? I can’t say for sure. When Martin was reached by email Thursday night, she did not comment, citing a “criminal investigation.”
Whether her account really was hacked or she simply showed poor judgment, the damage has been done. By Thursday morning, the series of events had been retold on the websites as the Washington Post and USA Today, just to name a couple.
It’s possible whatever future career Martin may have had in sports television may have vanished. If not with the original post, then with the subsequent chain of events. ESPN may face a backlash if Martin remains associated with the network.
In the not too distant past, it was possible for a college student to make a mistake without the world finding out. But Twitter and Facebook and the rest of the social media spectrum have changed that.
An off-color remark tying Jameis Winston to a school shooter may not raise eyebrows in a party setting. But the same remark posted on social media might as well be uttered in a press conference, a lesson Martin will no doubt learn from this incident.
Baseball great Alvin Dark, who died earlier this week, made one questionable comment in a press conference and, rightly or wrongly, it followed him for the rest of his career.
How this plays out for Martin’s career remains to be seen.