15 January 2011

Faking It

from http://www.merriam-webster.com; anus? really?
There might be a lot of talk about "authenticity" these days, but I found myself pondering the word "phony" the other night for various reasons. It might have been the beer whispering in my ear, but I started thinking about concepts of online and offline identity and punditry. (This is what happens when you have a long hard week at work, kids...don't try this at home.)

I'm not one for "musts" when it comes to using social media. No one will die if they don't use a Ning. Great teachers will continue to be great, even if they never Tweet. You can be a passionate and competent leader without a blog or Facebook presence. Some will say that it is the responsibility of organizations to reach out in as many ways as possible to their constituents. There may be some truth in that---which I will get to in another post---but for now, I'd just like to focus on the individual.

I have fretted here before about the plethora of pontificating pundits out there setting down the rules about how to use/not use online tools and further preach about keeping one's nose clean. I'm sure that these well-meaning experts believe that they're providing guidance for n00b5, but in doing so, they've forgotten the most important piece: the user. They haven't asked educators what they want to do and then helped guide them to do that. It's all back-asswards.

You're killin' me, MW. Rhyming words? No link to KC and the Sunshine Band?

But what I object to most is that educators are being told that they can only be educators while online. All those other wonderful facets which make you human---from your family and friends to world view to faults and foibles is to be locked away. (It might be okay to share on FB, but don't let anyone catch you.) Be a phony, teacher. Be as perfect and pristine as you are within your classroom walls...because, if you don't, the Internet boogeyman is going to get you and your life will be ruined---not that you would have been allowed to have one, anyway. All this and more will befall you if you dare to use Twitter incorrectly. Zounds!

I am not advocating that anyone be careless with their personal information---or violate whatever Code of Conduct exists in their state. What I do want to advocate for is for people to be themselves. If you want to talk about a hard time you've just had as a parent or spouse...or create a video about knitting...or post a scree about a public policy...Thank You. It doesn't mean I will like what you do (or choose to read/listen/participate), but I appreciate your refusal to sacrifice yourself because some phony out there doesn't want you to be human and put them out of a job.


Dr. Luann Lee said...

Thank you for putting this into words. I appreciate the choice to be as guarded or not as I choose. I've been told,in a former position, not to friend students on Facebook, but have not been policed aside from that. I'm not sure I understand the last sentence in your post, about my being human putting someone out of a job.

Chester Copperpot said...

'I'm sure that these well-meaning experts believe that they're providing guidance for n00b5'

cautioning against using social media friviously!

"you kids,get off my lawn"

PamelaTrounstine said...

I think the biggest fear is not "someone" losing a job, but a teacher losing their job. Sure, some innocent but not thinking teachers have done some dumb things like post pics of them with their students at a football game or something, and technically it violates many districts code because a minor can't consent to pics of them posted online.

The most disheartening is when a school district says nothing about teachers and social media, or suggests teachers not friend current students, etc. but the *union* says, "do not use FB" in writing in your inbox I.e., should some adult in the district see a status about how you just saw "[X Community Theater]'s performance of The Producers and it's just fantastic!" and complains on behalf of X offended people everywhere that if the district actually receives pressure to fire you, union representation will not be forthcoming. Because even teachers have a right to reconnect with people they went to high school with, or join a group on ravelry, or post recommendations on LinkedIn for others without fear that being a human will come back to bite them.

Elementary teachers talk all the time about the first time a kid sees them buying groceries, and they realize teachers don't live in their classroom. ;)

The Science Goddess said...

Stardiver---What I mean is that the pundits will be jobless once we start telling them that their rules don't apply. It's time for people to tell them that they don't make the rules for everyone. We will no longer give them that power.

Chester Copperpot---Goonies is one of my all-time favourite movies, so your username gets you many many power-ups here. :) I definitely feel like a vet (after 6 years in this space), but I hope I never become a know-it-all.

Pamela---Having had personal experience with The Union's refusal to support teachers, I definitely understand the fears you describe. I also think that any organization which tries to regulate online and offline activities differently is being ridiculous. If you a prohibit a teacher from being "friends" online with former classmates, then I think you have to say that people can't be together in person, either. (How long would that rule last?) Somehow, we have to move past this concept that online and offline are different worlds or that we are different people in each. How do we move forward with that idea?

Chester Copperpot said...

as employees of the state it is a real bummer no parity exists between different departments.
Kathy Lanier was on Kojo a few months back and specifically commented on officers in cruisers using laptops to update fb as part of neighbourhood intervention


hschinske said...

I thought "phony" was from the way people's voices were distorted on early telephones.

The Science Goddess said...

hschinske---I would have thought the word phony had some sort of relation to sound, too.