I have an interesting relationship with the Marine Corps these days. This, obviously, is due to the nature of my work. I happen to run a social media/internet-based business that deals directly with Marines and the military at large.
While I am grateful to say that the Corps itself has largely left me alone in my work, there’s an occasional butt of heads when it comes to the user-submitted content I post to my Facebook page or Twitter. You see, Marines do silly things, and these days more than ever they like to document it with their smartphones and cameras. They send it to me and I put it up for a good laugh.
Rarely, but sometimes, I’ll receive an email or a message asking me to take the photo down. Sometimes the request is vague, but most of the time it’s something like “dude my chain of command is freaking out about that photo can you take it down please?”
I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m some insane maverick that abides to nothing. Generally, I will take the photo down when there’s a genuine request on behest of the person in or responsible for the photo because I’m not an asshole. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about some chains of command, where even after the photo is removed, the Marine is punished.
There is a lot to be said about the advent of social media in the military community in the last 5 years–myself admittedly near the helm of it–and possibly even more to be said about handling of it by the official channels. In my humble opinion, I don’t think the Marine Corps was ready for the rise of Facebook and is still playing catch-up with how to handle it. This was abundantly clear during the reign of General Amos, whose reputation amongst the general enlisted population was nigh abysmal by any standard. Social media played a huge part in this, where even the most general of the general population could voice their concerns and complaints in broad daylight–which is something that really never existed before. What used to be grumblings in the barracks was now a public display of memes, CAR jokes and general discontent.
The military, as an institution, has always relied on militant control over its own. It is the military, after all. More recently, this has been expressed by a quick trigger when it comes to posting content online. Marines are often punished for even the most slight of slights in an effort to control the uncontrollable.
There is an underlying reality that should be noted in all of this, however.
Marines have been doing stupid shit since 1775.
The only difference is now everyone has a camera in their pocket. I often see, in comments on my own content, how Marines didn’t do such dumb stuff back in the “old Corps” (as its known). This is absolutely false, you just didn’t take photos of it and post it on the internet.
Social media in the military is an interesting subject, one I find intriguing on both a personal and professional level. Over the years its been interesting to me not only to see how Marines interact with it, but how the Marine Corps itself has reacted to it.