The social media mob was out in force last week against a Greece teacher.
The American Sign Language teacher wrote words her students wanted to learn how to sign on her SMART Board. One of the students called out the word c–ks—er and the teacher wrote in on the board. Months after the incident, a parent posted a picture of it on her Facebook page.
A few days later, the teacher had resigned.
The parent was within her rights to post the picture. People were within their rights to comment and express their opinions. But I’m wondering if sometimes we let a social media frenzy dictate outcomes.
Maybe the teacher should have lost her job. There are things we likely don’t know. But I’m willing to bet she’d still be employed if the parent had privately approached school officials.
On Facebook and Twitter, people pick up their pitchforks and demand action. They want to KNOW SOMETHING WAS DONE. Did school officials react to the mob? Would they have taken the teacher complaint as seriously if it hadn’t gone viral and hit the news? Did social media perform a public service or commit a possible injustice?
GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram wrote this about the woman fired from her job after a terrible tweet about AIDS and Africa:
With tools like Twitter and Facebook and the focus on real-time news, a single comment or bad joke or moment of poor decision-making can quickly escalate into an international incident. But is this kind of behavior a good thing? Is this how we encourage positive social values now? Or is it just a faster and more modern variation on the ugly mob?
At what point does the behavior of those responding to the offence become more offensive than the original comment, or at least out of proportion to it?
Is there a way to get the benefits of this kind of public shaming without it going overboard and becoming a mob with pitchforks? That’s hard to say. But we seem to be getting more and more chances to get the balance right, so perhaps we will figure it out eventually. I hope so.
I’m worried we no longer accept two words that used to symbolize an effort to learn, heal and show good faith: “I’m sorry.”
Links of the Day:
– Give the RCSD $325 million to rehab schools. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out a lot. In a report clearly showing the media was asleep at the switch for two years, the Democrat & Chronicle uses audits to expose overspending and mismanagement of the Facilities Modernization Plan. For example. principals were allowed to change work orders after projects went out to bid.
– Drop the kids off at school. Go fly a drone. Maybe pull the trigger. The Niagara Falls Air Base has a new, controversial focus.
– By cracking down on prescription pills, the government pushed people to heroin. It’s a big War on Drugs blunder.
– “Libraries have become bustling community centers where talking out loud and even eating are perfectly acceptable.” Libraries are more popular than ever.
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) March 8, 2014