July 18, 2012

A Hypothetical

Let's say you're a working mom or dad and you send your child to a wonderful child care facility. The staff is wonderful and the environment is friendly and challenging (in a good way, not like kids have to step over burning coals to get to the bathroom). As a result, you've seen your child grow in a number of many different ways and give the excellent staff a lot of credit for making that happen. Let us further imagine that one day surfing your favorite social networking site - we'll call it Schmacebook - you stumble across the profile of one of your child's teachers. You are initially inclined to let this person have their privacy when you realize:

a) Fuck that, it's the internet and if he hadn't wanted people to see he wouldn't have posted; and

b) The remark he made about kids being only a small step above pigeons on the evolutionary scale was only overshadowed by the comment about children being slightly smarter but less useful than dinner plates.

The question: Do you do anything about this? And if so, what? When our online and offline lives - personal and professional - collide what should happen?

Disclaimer: Before you jump to any conclusions I'd like to assure all of you people who know me or may stumble across me in real life that this is not about us, our kids, or actual dinner plates. No pigeons were harmed or forced to do math during the drafting or subsequent posting of this entry.

Posted by Chris at July 18, 2012 7:15 AM

My kids (21 and 17) work as summer camp counselors for the YMCA and the Y has a policy that if anything shows up on your facebook that is not appropriate (ie pictures of underage drinking, drugs, cursing) they can (and have) fire you. I think the policy also covers making comments about the kids. I think it is a good policy because it makes the employees - especially high school age kids - more aware of what information they are putting on line and the effects it can have in real life. Colleges admissions offices look at facebook pages as do potential employers. I think putting stuff like that on facebook is stupid and would make me question the caregivers sense.

Posted by: beth anne at July 18, 2012 8:38 AM

I actually had something like this happen to me. It was a (not-too-bright) girl that worked at my kids' daycare. She didn't say anything about the kids, but she did post some personal information that I would rather not have known (I never saw it personally, my husband told me about it). I never said anything because she was great with the kids and it wasn't anything illegal. She wasn't there long after this happened, so maybe someone else said something?

Posted by: Elizabeth at July 18, 2012 8:57 AM

It's how people cope. Does that person behave that way? If my doctor finds my projectile vomiting hilarious behind my back, but still treats me respectfully, it is cool.

Posted by: TheQueen at July 18, 2012 9:11 AM

It's how people cope. Does that person behave that way? If my doctor finds my projectile vomiting hilarious behind my back, but still treats me respectfully, it is cool.

Posted by: TheQueen at July 18, 2012 9:12 AM

Pigeons need to learn more math. I'm pro pigeon math, and I'm proud of it.

Posted by: alektra at July 18, 2012 9:18 AM

Yeah, I'm in the camp where if you do your job well, then you can think what you want outside of it. If I worked with kids all day, I *know* I'd have far worse things to say than that. I've heard perfectly wonderful parents go on at length about other kids in the most hilariously critical way. It's not going to effect how they do their job. As said above, probably more of a coping mechanism.

Posted by: Martin at July 18, 2012 9:26 AM

Depending on how well I know the teacher I would screencap/print and:

approach the teacher & say "Someone might get the wrong idea. You need to log in and adjust your security settings so the general public doesn't read stuff like this"


approach the school admin and say "While I appreciate the challenging education and how much growth my child has experienced, this is wildly inappropriate."

and let the cards fall where they may.

Posted by: Emily at July 18, 2012 9:59 AM

I see this as one of those things (like tattoos and piercings - that used to have a specific stigma, association, and expected behavior) that is going to change as it becomes more a way of life.
Your kids have had their lives documented online since before they were born, and who knows what online realities will be popping up by the time they are in middle and high school.

When I hear about situations like this, I try to think about how things will evolve moving forward. I think that it will become more and more acceptable to have an in-person public persona, and a different cyber public persona; and you will accept the realities that come from both.

I find these parts of social evolution fascinating.

Posted by: Lisa at July 18, 2012 10:36 AM

I agree with Emily's comments. I think it is all great to say they were on their own time and just venting, but this is inappropriate and it is VERY common that jobs will not hire you, discipline you, or fire you for this type of thing. Very similar to having a purple mohawk and then getting up in arms when people judge you based on your appearance.

I feel like this teacher might be kind of young and not get that. I would approach him directly and tell them you like him, but this bothered you and if it bothers you, who is generally pretty laid back, there are likely to be people who are really offended. Make him understand that you wanted to give him a chance to rectify the situation without getting him in trouble.

Posted by: Ashley at July 18, 2012 10:52 AM

I 100% agree with Emily above--either bring it to the attention of the teacher or to the admin. Something has to be said.

Who cares if it was on facebook...if this person said this comment out loud in front of you (instead of in writing) you would definitely address it, right? People should be held accountable for how they are represented online. I facebook stalk my childrens teachers all the time!

Posted by: laura at July 18, 2012 11:03 AM

I'm so much more impatient and less nice than the other commenters. Id likely friend em on Schmacebook and, if accepted, post the ole WTF? response to such commments. If that didn't go well, I'd probably confront that person and/or their boss. I like to think I was helpful in getting a less than stellar preschool employee fired at my son's old school. Kids are wayyyy too important to take a wait and see attitude to such nonsense. Yes, it IS how people cope biut the bigger problem is that they do not understand the boundary pf public/private behavior and I really don't want someone that confused/stupid caring for my child.

Posted by: rebecca at July 18, 2012 11:12 AM

I consider facebook to be a platform for stand-up and comic ideas.. I will frequently make snide comments or retorts just to amuse a certain number of my followers. I have made mistakes in the past and lost work.. but... facebook is facebook.
Let it go... he was amusing someone. I would wager , truth be told.. he is an excellent supervisor. Actions over words.

Posted by: david at July 18, 2012 1:18 PM

Coincidentally, two of my daughter's daycare teachers just friended me on Facebook. I felt a little awkward about it at first actually (what if I had complained about daycare - which I generally love and adore) and they saw that? It has turned out to be wonderful. They post crazy, silly pictures of Molly at daycare on my wall periodically. And because Molly will age out of these teachers' class in a year, I'm glad that this will allow me to maintain relationships with these teachers who have been such a big part of Molly's life.

That said, I think that any time you put information on Facebook (or other sites), you should know that it's out there and anyone could read it. That said, in your hypothetical situation, I don't think it would at all be uncalled for to tell the teacher (and/or his/her superior) that you saw his/her comments and were offended by them.

To ask the teacher to be penalized would be a step too far in my opinion; but to air your own grievances is right and even appropriate.

Posted by: Catherine at July 18, 2012 2:16 PM

I have to think if you can't control your fingers just to get a chuckle out of someone, you probably deserve to be jobless. Think it, say it to a co-worker, whatever, but for the love of god don't post it on the internet.
Prime example of this...my oldest daughter 18 at the time had a much older co-worker (late 20's) post about her "she is a little B**ch and she wouldn't care if someone died" all because she couldn't cover a shift for her. Needless to say this brought me to investigating her fb. Well about 100 posts later (all copied of course) of her totally bashing the company she got hers. Fired. That's what a real bi*ch does.

Posted by: Kami at July 18, 2012 2:31 PM

I have said this before and I will say it again. Do not put anything out there that can come back to bite you. And if I was a pre-school teacher and I wrote that, I wouldn't be able to defend my own stupidity of a parent of one of the kids was offended!

Posted by: Maribeth at July 18, 2012 2:32 PM

We keep them in a bubble, so I guess as long as the bubble is still OK then all is well. However, I'd be pissed. I might tell the person that I feel like it is something they could get fired for, and they might think about what they say in public about my kids. Or I could email it (if possible) or print it out and mail it to the owner and say that although I love the daycare, I don't think this type of attitude is a good thing for a daycare provider.

Posted by: Brad at July 18, 2012 2:32 PM

If you post it out there on the interwebs as a public status... then you're responsible for answering to it. If it bothers you, address it. There's too much child abuse going on out there to not go with your gut feeling. If all is well, then it's all good. If there's a problem, it needs to come to light.

Posted by: Julee at July 18, 2012 2:37 PM

Tricky. Who you are as a professional needn't be who you are in every other aspect of your life. But if you've allowed your professional life to creep into your social circles (and I'm not sure it's avoidable), you need to realize that the professional life will trump the social one. Don't shit where you eat, in other words.

Off topic: it cracks me up when you say "fuck."

Posted by: seeking elevation at July 18, 2012 2:38 PM

i agree with emily and ashley on this. it would totally bother me and i'd have to diplomatically say something. one of our neighbors used to be an elementary school teacher in a bad neighborhood and he would tell us how much he hated the kids when we'd see him. i kept my mouth shut, but i couldn't stand it and felt horrible for those kids (who were probably difficult, to be fair). if he can't even stop himself from saying something publicly on facebook, i'm sure his gameface isn't *that* great at his job, either.

Posted by: kati at July 18, 2012 4:36 PM

You really do need to be pro-culpable; take responsibility for what could happen before it does: even if you think there is no chance your post will fall under the wrong eyes, assume that it will. Think twice, and then think once more because you just never know.

Posted by: Kare at July 19, 2012 1:56 AM

Hah, it sounds like you've been listening to 98 Rock, and listening to the great firefighter debacle in the city.

In my opinion - teachers, etc, are held to a higher standard on social media sites and should act accordingly. That being said - I LOVE the book Learn me Good and Learn me Gooder, which is based off of semi-true events from the guys teaching career. I think if a person is going to put those kind of comments on their facebook, then the page needs to be private, and have none of your students parents on it or allowed to see the page. I also think sometimes people just need to blow off steam, and that's their way in doing so. Is it smart? Not necessarily. Sometimes I think people need a reminder how the things they post on facebook affect not only themselves, but others.

Posted by: Kim at July 19, 2012 7:18 AM

This is a tricky dilemma....As a nurse, when I'm at work, I give 100% to my job and patients, and would never ever say anything about any of my patients on facebook, but it is my job. And just like everyone else, you have good days and bad days and need to vent...It's not all sunshine and lollipops. So I, on occasion will may generalized statements about the intelligence of some people, but I still get up the next day and give 100% to those patients I have the next day. Maybe he should go deep undercover if he doesn't want to be all out there with his business.

Posted by: Christine at July 19, 2012 5:40 PM