Not Everyone Is Able to Tweet and Post Who They Really Are

Originally posted at The Wejr Board blog

There is often much discussion around the separation of our professional and personal lives on social media.  Some districts strongly encourage this separation while others encourage the blending of both.  I have been a supporter of the latter as I believe that if we share who we are online we develop better relationships with others.  In December, I tweeted the following:

 

From an organization perspective, I wholeheartedly agree with my tweet.  I encourage people to share who they are and be transparent in their views on education.

However, my friend Royan Lee gave me some pushback on this idea when he tweeted,

What I did not realize when I tweeted that, was that my view on the subject was coming from a lens of privilege – the lens of a middle class, white, heterosexual male.  Where I fell short in my tweet was that I failed to empathize with those whose lives are considered less acceptable to some.

When Royan brought this side to my attention… I stopped and thought about deleting the tweet, but then realized this is all part of the learning.  It was not my intention to be ignorant but by wearing my invisible napsack of privilege… I felt I was.

I immediately thought about my friends who have struggled most of their lives with a target on them for being gay.  I thought of my gay friends who are now so happy with their girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, and kids.  I thought of how these important friends that have inspired me and taught me so much cannot always share who they are for fear of being attacked by those who judge and throw stones.

I have been attacked for my views on education and sometimes these became personal; however, I have never been attacked for who I am or who my family is. For those with a personal social media account where they share all of the joy in their lives and happen to be gay (expand to LGBTQ), it is a sad reality that, because of societal views and judgment from others, they feel they cannot share this personal joy in their professional streams.

I recently shared a video of who I am with the families and staff of my new school.  It was very well received and it immediately help foster some relationships with families.  In reflection, I cannot help but think about what it would be like if I did not have the “typical wife and two children” family.  What if my wife and kids were a husband and kids?  Would I still share this?  I feel we have a fairly liberal society in BC but there would likely still be some families that would shut me out or view me differently.  We all love to belong and love to be accepted and although I would hope that I would have the courage to be publicly proud of my family, I am not sure I would as that might be risking this feeling of acceptance.  It is reflection like this that help me to attempt to look through the lens to help me understand how difficult it must be for my gay friends and many others who want to share who they are but live in a society that still has some people that look to judge rather than seek t0 understand.

I was going to write another post about the importance of sharing who we are… and I still believe this is important;  however, it is much easier for people with a life that is more acceptable in society.

Although Royan’s tweet was not specifically about the LGBTQ community, it was a wake up call for me to change my lens and seek to understand the difficulties for students and adults to post and tweet who they really are.  To all my friends, as well as those in my network, for whom I failed to understand their lens…. I apologize.  Thank you so much to Royan and the many others who continue to teach me to empathize with others and attempt to view life through a new lens.

Looking through a better lens.   cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Kevin Dooley: http://flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/4196773347/

Looking through a better lens.
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Kevin Dooley: http://flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/4196773347/

 @chriswejr

6 comments for “Not Everyone Is Able to Tweet and Post Who They Really Are

  1. February 5, 2014 at 10:05 am

    This is such an important post, and one that would be helpful to share with high school students too. I believe what is important is that our online presence is true to who we are, but it doesn’t have to depict our personal lives if we don’t want it too. When I share online, I’m conscious of those I love and how much they want or don’t want their life stories shared through me, hence I usually refer to my closest relatives in more generic terms and tell the stories in a less personal way. For every individual the personal share will take on a different look, and as long as the share represents our true values, ideas, and questions, as you suggest, I believe there’s room for choice

    • February 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Hey Maureen, you bring up an important point about sharing about others online as well. The key is to be reflective and also respect that, as you say, “for every individual, the personal share will take on a different look”. Thanks for adding this.

  2. Susan
    February 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    This blog grabbed my attention. As a former principal of an Islamic school, I was under much pressure to role model only the best moral character, behavior, etiquette, associations, etc. These expectations extended to my two teenagers, which was difficult at times as we are all humans prone to mistakes. They especially felt a lot of pressure being constantly reminded “you are the principal’s daughters – you can’t do that! you must do that!” etc. I think families of religious school staff are held to a higher standard of accountability than the rest of the community, and Social Media can pronounce or even exaggerate any departures or deviations from the norm (even omitted posting or failure to post on Facebook can raise scrutiny). It is important to consider the privacy and preferences of our family members when sharing our lives on the Web.

    • February 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks for adding a personal story to this perspective. There is power to vulnerability as well and some often have the pressure to have this “imposter’s syndrome” of perfection. I am not sure how kids get through their teens and early 20s when so many mistakes are documented, shared and critiqued.

      As teachers and parents, it is important that we really reflect on what we are sharing about our students and children. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Kaarin Averill
    February 6, 2014 at 12:33 am

    What a brave and important post. Thank you for reminding all of us that we often take our lens of privilege for granted.

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