Sunday, November 23, 2008

Internet Inter-Nots!

You know, we all have our bad days. We all have those days when the students just drive us up the wall, the parents seem to be the biggest batch of idiots ever, coworkers seem utterly incompetant, and the people in charge at the district office seem to know less about education than a rock knows about swimming. Every teacher has that kind of day from time to time and every human has an analogous type of day. It happens.

And yet...there are appropriate ways to express these feelings...and inappropriate ways.

Appropriate: Talking with intimate friends/family to get frustrations off your chest in a private conversation not using specific names.

Inappropriate: Over a drink at a restaurant using first and last names where any local could overhear and know about whom you are speaking.

Appropriate (admittedly questionably so): Anonymously blogging frustrations without use of real names, locales, etcetera.

Inappropriate: Posting on FaceBook your hatred and contempt where it is easily determined who you are, who your students are, and what school you teach at, and including photos of yourself partying like a college student at a Greek Mardi Gras kegger.

I'm looking at you, Charlotte teachers, who felt it ok to say "I hate my students" online. Well, really, ever, when you get right down to it.

Here's an article: NC teachers disciplined for Facebook posts

Here's a news report:

If you hate somebody or something, you can't be expected to try your hardest for that person or thing and you can't be expected to be impartial about that person or thing.

Now I don't know these people, and I can't guarantee that the teacher who said, "I hate my students," didn't have the worst day ever and was just venting. But after saying something like that, "I hate my students," and you don't mean it, you quickly amend your statement. You explain that you don't really. You're just frustrated. It seems like they're doing this or that out of spite and it's hard to not take it personally, but you know they are children...even high school seniors are still just children...and it's not personal, so you don't hate them. I can only assume that teacher who said, "I hate my students," did not quickly amend the statement.

The teacher who talked about her "ghetto" justification.

The partying? Well, what you do one your own time is up to you. What you put out there where your students can find it and the parents of your students...That's not up to you. I used to smoke. I stopped largely because I had to stand in class and tell my students that they should not smoke. I couldn't do it. So I quit. What you do validates the act for your students. If they can find out about it, you risk teaching your students more with that picture on the internet than all the lesson plans you prepare for the year. The most important thing students can learn from a teacher is not grammar and mathematics and history. It's how to be a respectable human. A good person who doesn't have a lot of book learning is still a good person. An asshole who knows a lot is still an asshole. Take it from one. Now ask yourself...With whom would you rather be trapped on a desert island?

So the question becomes why would you, someone helping mold the future, but such negativeness out on the internet?

Answer: Validation.

Recently some poor kid committed suicide on webcam. He announced it on a board. People watched as he downed pills and went to sleep. They encouraged him. (Some did try and talk him out of it.) Why did this kid publicly kill himself? Partly, probably, because he wanted someone to give him a reason not to do it. But according to some "experts", and I don't know they are experts of or who they are, thus the quotations, but in today's internet age, the subconscious belief is that it's not worth doing or saying if everyone can't see it on the internet.

Is that what the internet has given us? The ability to lead egocentric lives within the privacy of our own homes? To brag how we partied and complain about our lives and share our deepest pain and desperation?

I'm not casting stones because my glass blogs and websites and CafePress shops would shatter into a million pieces. But maybe the anonymity so easily gained on the internet is allowing brazeness to flourish in our private lives. Maybe we're's not all about us...


At 7:57 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

First of all, welcome back, my dear. I'm glad that you're getting better. Please extend my gratitude to Mrs. Asshole for keeping us up-to-date on your condition. Listen to your doctor and be a good boy, please; I'll miss you if you go.

Second, I've got some thinking to do about this, especially when it comes to the questionability of anonymous blogging. A friend of mine was let go from his job because his anonymous blog was discovered. The admin. got it stuck in their craw and canned his ass, and I'm pretty much outraged by that. I understand that the Facebook and the MySpace and anything that ISN'T anonymous is a total no-no, but I'm still trying to figure out where the appropriate line is for those of us who make an effort to obscure our identities -and the identities and situations we write about - as it pertains to our professional lives.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Glottal Stop said...

What? You mean teachers have sexual urges and drink alcohol too? Next you'll be telling us they eat and drink like us too.

Set your facebook to private so you don't get sued by uptight parents living in a Christian fantasy land of yore, okay yah. That's just internet age survival 101. Though, honestly, you really shouldn't have too. These parents can't expect to hold teachers to this high lofty moral and professional standard and then pay them about as much as a tenured fast-food chain manager.

Because getting credentialed is so easy and the pay (as well as social prestige) is so low (but livable...kind of) you end up with schools full of people begrudgingly living out their plan Bs and Cs. Getting laid once in awhile is all I'd be able to do stay sane too. Vote to improve the public school system (and raise your own taxes) or dry your eyes big momma.

Love their kids? Come on lady, you know in your heart of heart, you can barely handle your own child who you've been hardwired by evolution to love unconditionally. You pay a bunch of people peanuts to watch as your kid turns his or her nose up at the subjects those people have spent their lives studying and demand that those people keep a professional composure as your kid generally acts like an ungrateful, disinterested prat and yah, maybe a little animosity is going to fester up. Also, dude, hyperbole? "Ghetto", "hate" these are both words we throw around without regard to literal meaning. The truth is these people are really saying "I don't work where I hoped I'd end up" and "find irritating". Taken out of their casual context these common idiomatic banalities make easy fodder for local cable access reporters, hungry for any subject matter they can use to shock their audience into a pontifical rage. Teachers are people. Get over it.

Welcome to Reality City Limits. Population: Not nearly enough.


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