One of the organization's famed members, Homer Hickam, did not take kindly to the profane tweet announcing the intern's new position.
A would-be intern for NASA learned the hard way about the power of social media.
Twitter user @NaomiH_official reportedly lost her highly-coveted internship with NASA after a vulgar string of tweets caught the attention of a former NASA engineer and the company itself.
On Aug. 20, Naomi took to Twitter to happily announce the news that she had received an internship with NASA and in the announcement, peppered in an expletive that seemed to ruffle the feathers of a famed NASA alum, Homer Hickam. He simply commented, “Language.”
According to Buzzfeed News, Hickam is a famed NASA member, Vietnam War veteran, author, and the engineer who trained the first Japanese astronauts. His story and memoir also inspired the 1999 movie October Sky starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Apparently still riding the high of receiving the internship and not knowing who Hickam is, Naomi tweeted back, “Suck my dick and balls I’m working at NASA.” Hickam quipped his own response saying, “And I am on the National Space Council that oversees NASA.”
After this exchange caught NASA’s attention, it is reported that Naomi lost her internship. The internet promptly erupted in outrage over the situation, with people picking sides over who they believed was in the wrong.
One side of the argument says that this situation should be viewed as a lesson in the dangers of inappropriate and crude online behavior.
There's a lesson in this. https://t.co/0gAxkb6dPu
— Toussaint Egan (@TheSaintOfTous) August 21, 2018
Others jumped to Naomi’s defense saying that the judgment and consequences of her tweet were too harsh. One user noted that she shouldn’t be held to the highest level of professionalism because she isn’t even a professional yet, just an excited almost-intern.
Apparently @NaomiH_official lost her internship over this and some think that's appropriate because professionalism etc.
She's not a professional, she's a not-even-intern excited about joining NASA. If she's not professional, teach her. No need to advance-wreck her career 💖 pic.twitter.com/kpXY3lycRs
— rebecca roache (@rebecca_roache) August 21, 2018
Still, some users berated Naomi for not knowing who Hickam was and wondered how she could even get herself into the situation in the first place.
If she applied to an internship at NASA, and didn't know who Homer Hickam is, she's not smart enough to work at NASA. Nor does she show the proper judgment to work for an organization of that caliber.
— JD (@Sta7ic) August 21, 2018
Another group of people blamed Hickam, saying that he abused his power. However, Hickam published a now-deleted blog post explaining his side of the story. The post reads:
“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 occured to me that this young person might get in troube 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 immeadiately 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.”
Later in the post, Hickam said that Naomi reached out to him and apologized for the profanity, which Hickam “heartily accepted” and apologized to her as well. He said that after speaking with her, he believes that she should still be able to work in the aerospace industry and is helping her to secure a job that will top the internship that she lost.
Hickam also said that he spoke with the people in charge of Naomi’s former internship to make sure “that there will be no black mark on her record.”
What started off as an excited tweet evolved quickly into not only a viral internet frenzy, but also the dissolution of one young woman’s dream. No matter whose side you fall on in this debate, we can all agree that the power of Twitter can cost us our jobs.