When you have a bad day at work, how do you cope with your frustration? Perhaps you run your anger off at the gym or vent to your significant other or go to happy hour with friends. It is healthy to find a release for your negative feelings, but you may want to think twice before you release them on a blog or social media site. Professionalism in the workplace dictates that you not use social media for venting.
Natalie Munroe, a high school English teacher in suburban Philadelphia, is learning the hard way that nothing posted online is private, even if it is just intended for family and friends. Munroe has been suspended without pay by the school after administrators learned of the existence of her personal blog, which contains insults toward her students and colleagues.
Her blog has now been taken down, except for a few posts about the scandal, though media outlets have been publishing quotes from old posts, including:
- “My students were particularly hateful this week, annoying me with their attitudes, their sense of entitlement, and their know-it-all behaviors.”
- “There’s no other way to say this: I hate your kid.”
- “My students are out of control. They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.”
- “Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS.”
Murnoe defended herself in a blog post last week:
What bothers me so much about this situation is that what I wrote is being taken out of context. Of my 84 blogs, 60 of them had absolutely nothing to do with school or work. Of the 24 that mentioned it, only some of them were actually focused on it–others may have mentioned it in passing, like if I was listing things that annoyed me that day and wrote without any elaboration that students were annoying that day.
Munroe may lose her job over the blog, and her story has sparked a national debate over everything from human resources policies on social media and First Amendment rights to education reform and challenges faced by teachers. Her supporters applaud her for speaking out about her frustrations of being an educator and for giving “tough love” to disrespectful students. Her critics chastise her behavior as immature, unprofessional and inappropriate for a person in her position.
Whether or not you agree Munroe should be fired over her writing, the scandal is an important reminder that you need to be cautious before posting anything on the Internet, especially it is about work. If you are not comfortable with the general public reading what you have to say, save the venting for the privacy of your own home.
What do you think?
Read EDSI’s best practices for social media.