The warnings have been out for years: Be careful what you put on the web. Anything can come back to haunt you.
Lindsey Stone is learning this the hard way.
A few years ago, Stone’s life was smoothly humming along. She was happily employed, and appreciated, as a caretaker at the LIFE center for disabled adults in Cape Cod. But everything changed with one photo.
In October 2012, Stone took her LIFE residents to visit Arlington National Cemetary. There, Stone spotted a sign next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Silence and Respect,” the sign read. When Stone saw the sign, she couldn’t help but mock it. It wasn’t because she was opposed to the sign’s message, she insists. She and the friend accompanying her on the trip say they always mock signs.
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Stone told the Guardian that she has a habit of taking pictures “smoking in front of a no-smoking sign or posing in front of statues, mimicking the pose.
"We took dumb pictures all the time. And so at Arlington [the national cemetery] we saw the Silence And Respect sign … and inspiration struck.”
Stone’s friend posted the photo to Facebook, and it quickly went viral. Within no time, hundreds of people were sharing her photo with comments like “You should rot in hell,” and, “Just pure evil.”
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The intense backlash cost Stone her job. She spent almost a year looking for a new job, and thankfully found one. She’s still terrified of employers and new acquaintances seeing the now-infamous picture, though.
“Since it happened, I haven’t tried to date anybody,” she told the Guardian. “How much do you let a new person into your life? Do they already know?”
Stone hopes that sharing her side of the story will help alleviate the criticisms of her. Her former employer, meanwhile, seems comfortable with its decision to fire her. In 2012, LIFE CFO Jim Godsil called Stone’s picture “despicable.”
"We're very, very upset about it,” Godsil said at the time. “We really, really find it despicable behavior.”