Sunday, May 1, 2011

Social Media Awareness

Luke 12:3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (Catholic RSV)

A teacher acquaintance of mine had a very nice blog - one that I read regularly and enjoyed. It was clever and funny, and she often had good insights.

She has suspended it for the time being.

From what I gather, the reason she did so was that some parents complained about it in some way. I don't know how many parents actually complained - it could have been just one set of parents - what exactly was the nature of their complaints.

The blog was certainly not controversial - mine is far more so, and mine is tame compared to some I've seen. She did not dwell on political matters or social issues. But maybe she revealed too much about her personal life and her teaching experiences. Perhaps some of her students found it and started reading and commenting on it, breaking down the barrier we teachers are supposed to keep these days between ourselves and our students.

I've heard of teachers who did get in trouble for what they've published on blogs or Facebook or other such sites. They made comments that they would not make in class or posted pictures that were not appropriate.

Teachers have been fired because of such things.

As far as I can tell, none of that was true of my acquaintance's blog. But nevertheless it's now silent.

As teachers, we have to be careful.

But it goes beyond fear for our jobs.

As Christians - and Franciscans - we are called to be exemplary in how we speak and how we act, and to avoid things that can lead us into sin. We should speak out - or write - about the moral issues of the day, but we are called to do so in a loving respectful way.

When it comes to social media, Pope Benedict has urged us to use it, but to it wisely, "to contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each social being."

Of course, even something is said in a loving respectful - even innocent - way can draw strong responses.

Her experience is a cautionary tale for me.

I've been lucky in that I teach at a Christian school where because of their beliefs the students and their parents do not use social media - and have only limited internet access. Some of my posts on social issues or politics have not been a problem. But if I do go to another school some day, I will have to be more careful and perhaps in some cases use less strong language.

My mouth, my opinionated remarks, and my sense of humor have gotten me in trouble in the past.

As Luke notes above, what we say in the dark may come to light, and even when we think we are whispering in private "chat rooms" we may find our words proclaimed from the housetops (or cited by our employers!).

I hope my acquaintance will be able to blog again some day.

I hope I don't have to stop doing so myself some day.


kam said...

Good post. As Franciscans we really do have to watch ourselves because the world is always calling for us to 'join in the fun. For me, it's not the controversial things I say(hardly anything) but anything that I decide to type down. I try to filter everything that I consider putting onto the blog through my Franciscanism and most of the time the idea becomes rejected. Social media may have it's benifits, but for a Franciscan, those benifits are mostly hard to find. k

Lee Strong said...

Thanks! As Franciscans we are reminded even more of how we should behave as Christians!