It’s not right, but it’s okay
I’m gonna make it anyway
Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right
Another day, another Twitter issue. It seems that there is a portion of the edu-world, predominantly male, who think that it is ok to send inappropriate messages and photos to other members of the community. Well it isn’t.
You see, we all have the right to exist without harassment. We all have boundaries and they should be respected. I’m not sure what makes people think they have the right to invade other people’s cyberspace in this way but I am sure that me, and the rest of the team at GroundEd, don’t think that it is okay.
Part of my worry is that we see cyberspace as a permissive environment. It seems that we can say/do things that we would not say to a person in the real world. Let me give you an example…
When I was younger I played the dating game. I went out to pubs with friends, chatted to groups of ladies in the hope that one of them would find me not repulsive and want to spend more time with me. This seemed like normal behaviour; I met a few people and had relationships with them (I even met my wife in this way). What I never did however was get alongside a member of the opposite sex then start showing them pictures of “Little Col”. Maybe I felt that this was inappropriate behaviour and thought that if they wanted to see “Little Col” then they would find a way of letting me know.
Perhaps I’m not of the Tinder generation though. Perhaps it’s a cry for instant gratification; if I show someone what is on offer and they say no then I can move on to the next person? Somehow I don’t think the game is meant to be played that way.
But you say, Twitter, Facebook and all of the other myriad of social media platforms have reporting tools to stop this kind of thing. Well yes, and no. Only this morning I heard a tale from someone who said they had reported 8 different male teachers on Twitter for inappropriate contact and nothing had been done. Now normally I don’t condone over-censorship but I do feel that if someone is reporting sustained and unwanted contact then the platform has a duty to respond.
So what are we to do? Collective responsibility is key here. As a community of educators on Twitter I feel that we owe it to each other give each other a degree of protection, to circle around those being approached in this way and give a collective response. Maybe the people being sent the images should make them public. If nothing else it’s possibly a safeguarding issue after all.
Maybe though it would just be better if we all attempted to be better people. We would take a dim view if any of our learners displayed this type of behaviour towards another member of our class, why should we accept it from fully developed adults.
We need to get back to a time where we thought carefully about our actions, where we considered how we were saying things before we sent them. I’m sure that in the days before email and instant messaging, digital imaging and the cult of now, I did not get my camera out, take photos of my private parts, send the film off to Truprint and await their return before selecting the best ones to send to a stranger.
Perhaps things were simpler then…
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues raised then please get in touch – don’t suffer this in silence any more.