A few years ago, I was forced to go to this Professional Development event. It was one of those “hoity toity” events where I’m sure that people went to be seen and not necessarily for the learning. There was very little about technology and probably even less about good classroom practice. From what I can remember, it was a place to sell the latest and greatest textbook and rub elbows with “important” people. I can still remember how out of place I felt.
Over one of the meals, I sat at a table with someone who actually wanted to talk about technology. It wasn’t inclusive; it was about how this person used it. (Yes, I’m being very vague…) Facebook and Google+ were both very young at the time and so I was doing some brain picking and asking which one this person used.
“Both. For different reasons.”
Now, I was interested.
It turned out that Facebook was used for “fun” things and Google+ was going to be for serious things. The logic made sense and, to some extent, I think that I do that myself. Facebook really is about connecting friends and family but I also see it as a place for connecting with other educators. There’s an amazing collection of ESL educators that I’ve followed and I’m addicted to their discussions and learnings.
Anyway, back on topic here.
I decided to follow this individual on both platforms provided that I was accepted, and I was.
I was quite impressed. Then, surprised. Then, disgusted.
On Google+, this person was professional and certainly representing their employer well. You see the resources being shared by others and you could see that people would have no problems quoting this as a source.
On Facebook, it was a completely different story. It was a matter of sharing anything and everything. It seemed the more offensive the better. Racist, Sexist – you name it, it was all there. It was like the mentality had been hijacked by aliens or something. I gave it a couple days thinking that perhaps it was a mistake but the stuff kept on coming. I was worried about those who check out my “friend of a friend” and promptly got rid of our connection.
For whatever reason, call it laziness on my part, I didn’t delete the Google+ connection. Every now and again a professional post comes through and I read it with interest. But, it’s not with the same enthusiasm. I’d seen this person’s other side and I didn’t like what I saw. Now, I like a joke as much as the next person and have done a fair bit of sharing myself. In my mind, there are just some things that will never be funny. They certainly don’t get liked or shared from this keyboard.
In terms of online credibility and respect, I think of a scene from a police show that I saw once that went something like “If you can’t believe one thing, then you don’t have to believe anything”. This person’s credibility was blown with me. I continue to read their thoughts but am now more interested in the sources referenced than the original article.
I think it’s a good discussion to have with students. “Who are you when you are online?” “Can you be two completely different people?” “If you can, which is the real you?”