Social media is no longer a small affair tended to by youthful users on the cutting edge of technology. Students and professors alike all exist in the same technological bubble in which a generation and education gap has been bridged like never before. While ensuring students maintain a proper level of decency in their online lives, it’s easy to forget how their teachers can make the same basic mistakes if not occasionally audited on their behavior.
Finding a story about a prospective college career ruined by inappropriate comments made online is not terribly difficult. Not only are digital conversations often permanent, they’re also likely to show up at inopportune times and most universities have measures in place when it comes to releasing professors or expelling students for their online remarks. Even public entities, bound by the First Amendment, are occasionally tripped up by laws that allow offensive speech or certain behaviors to be grounds for removal.
When a simple disagreement based around a quiz question can lead to examples of digital stalking and harassment that triggers further rounds of arguments over protected rights and behaviors in the privacy of one’s own home, it has become increasingly important to know the ins and outs of handling an online conversation and interactions with students without backlash.
As elegantly summarized by digital media expert Luvvie Ajayi, “privacy ain’t privacy anymore.” The incident between Kayla Renee Parker and her professor escalated to the point of intervention by their university and the offending professor was let go over her remarks, of which many were inflammatory or less than socially acceptable ways to speak to anyone, let alone a student questioning a test result.
In short, it’s important to know the limits of any given chosen social media platform. Something considered private may be taken to the public through screenshots or recordings and nothing is ever completely private, but it is still important to know how to set privacy preferences and when not to engage in unseemly discourse. Even though it’s important to be true to one’s self, the era of digital media can make that a regrettable choice if one’s wrong social face is the one that ends up in the news.