Millennials, Meet The Internet: It Can Cost You Your Job

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008 file photo, space shuttle Atlantis on pad 39A, left, and Endeavour on pad 39B stand ready in front of a rainbow in the early morning at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Dormant for nearly six years, Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center should see its first commercial flight on Feb. 18, 2017. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will use the pad to hoist supplies for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

In a hilarious and enlightening moment of “you brought it on yourself,” a young social media user apparently lost a potentially prestigious internship at NASA because she couldn’t stop herself from being stupid and b*tchy online.


A twitter user, inexplicably forgetting that the internet can get one into trouble, “clapped back” (as the kids say) to another user who suggested they tone the vulgarity down when celebrating their new internship. Given the vulgarity, here’s a link to screenshots of the exchange (they’re worth a look).

The problem? Homer Hickam, the wise old coot who warned the know-it-all kid about using vulgarity, is a very famous (but only to certain generations it seems) former NASA engineer and current space council adviser. There’s a whole movie (a good one, too) about how he went from a certain future in the West Virginia coal mines to rocket engineer for NASA.

And as a space council adviser, he was arguably the boss of whoever was to be the boss of the sassypants kid.

Hickam, to his credit, was such an incredibly standup guy about the whole thing he wrote a blog post about the incident praising the kid and lamenting that she lost her internship. He even says he’d like to try to get her employed. Pretty classy stuff. He’s deleted the post, but it’s archived here and is worth a read.

At risk of offending Mr. Hickam, I’m going to reproduce part of his post below, because it’s wonderful:

I’m a Vietnam vet and not at all offended by the F-word. However, when I saw NASA and the word used together, it occurred to me that this young person might get in trouble if NASA saw it so I tweeted to her one word: “Language” and intended to leave it at that.

Soon, her friends took umbrage and said a lot of unkind things but long after I was gone as I immediately deleted my comments and blocked all concerned.

Later, I learned she had lost her offer for an internship with NASA. This I had nothing to do with nor could I since I do not hire and fire at the agency or have any say on employment whatsoever.

As it turned out, it was due to the NASA hashtag her friends used that called the agency’s attention to it long after my comments were gone.

She reached out to me with an unnecessary apology which I heartily accepted and returned with my own. After talking to her and looking at her resume’, I am certain she deserves a position in the aerospace industry and I’m doing all I can to secure her one that will be better than she lost.


Perhaps, kids, when faced with someone trying to guide you, you’ll stop a minute and take the advice seriously instead of acting like the online jerks you’ve been trained to be since birth. Because it could be a man as nice as Hickam trying to help you. Or a man as connected as Hickam giving you a warning.


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