In the month of February of 2011, Natalie Munroe of a Pennsylvanian school district was suspeneded with pay. The cause, she had a personal blog where she said some very unflattering things about her students and colleagues. These things were not that nice. Check out the interview on Good Morning America. While people are debating whether Natalie should be fired or not over what she posted I can see past that to a larger, more important point. Read on past the break to find out what that is.
I am not going to waste my time posting whether Natalie should be fired or not, or whether the school district or employers should do about their employees who have personal blogs and the such. This issue can be discussed and bantered back and forth for hour (if not years). I’m going to talk about something that often gets overlooked in such matters. I’m gong to discuss about ones online reputation.
No matter what you or I think about personally about the situation, everyone can agree that Natalie’s teaching career will be irreparably damaged. I cannot believe that she will be able to step into another school for the next five to ten years and not have students, admin, colleagues, and parents look at her and think “That’s the teacher who wrote those terrible things on her blog.”
This situation has become something larger and beyond her control. People will not care what “officially” is decreade, because most people have made up their minds on the issue already. They do not see Natalie as a person. They seem to only see the situation. People will not care about if she is a good person, mother. The public opinion will rule, no matter what she says, no matter what the school district says, and no matter what the media says anymore.
This is the power of one’s online reputation. To some people, it can bring great fortune. To others, it can bring great disaster. One thing, the all have in common, is that they do not control it, no matter what anyone says.
So talk to your students. Encourage them to be aware of what they post on Facebook, Twitter, Formspring, Tumblr, etc. These things can have a way to bite them later on down the road.