prologue

The stories have been plastered all over the internet–adults so fed up with children’s behavior that the youth are punished with extreme consequences. You may remember the father who shot up his daughter’s laptop because of her Facebook post (see video below) or the boy who got suspended when he swore at his teacher. This week’s story was about a mother who took to Facebook to apologize for her teen’s behavior at the movies.

The epicenter of all these stories are kids behaving badly. Kids being kids. Sure, they said bad words, acted impolitely, earned bad grades, or badmouthed their loved ones, but these acts are not new! Children have behaved badly forever. So what are we getting all worked up about? And why are we glorifying the adult’s bad behavior for publicly shaming the children in their charge?

In my moments of teenage angst, my father would punish me in a passive-aggressive manner. Instead of grounding me for slamming the door when I was angry, I just came home from school to a room sans door. The note taped to the frame was simple, “When you prove you respect our home, we’ll gift you a door.” My dad was wicked clever! Though this example is one of a multitude of my dad’s inventive consequences, my parents were nothing if not respectful. They didn’t take to the internet to share their “great” parenting schemes. They didn’t publicize my wrongness by touting their genius in the church bulletin or to a room full of friends at a dinner party. My mistakes and my parents’ collective genius was private. If I never shared the story–you’d never know.

interlude

With the internet open 24/7, privacy has become a thing of the past. We’re so concerned about our children and our student’s footprint and privacy that we’re forgetting about our own behavior. Dr. Devorah Heitner’s article entitled, Kids Don’t Understand Privacy Anymore made me wonder– do ADULTS understand privacy anymore?

Photo Credit: Melissa Bour

Photo Credit: Melissa Bour

You may remember the 2014 story of the middle school teacher in Oklahoma who crafted a handwritten note (left) that went viral. The unfortunate truth about Miss Bour’s message is that despite the fact that she has since deleted the photo from her own Facebook page–the picture and story live on! Her message may have taught her students a valuable lesson about privacy and their reputation, but what lesson(s) did she learn?

So why I am I bothered by any of this?

As an international educator, recruiting season is usually the most taxing period in our lives and since I’ll be recruiting again in the next few years, I’ve been seriously considering MY footprint. After reading: The 10 Reasons Why I Ignored Your Resume and Job Hunting? Take a close look at your Facebook page I became a bit flustered. Though the articles are not a bible for why someone would or would not hire me, the articles gave me some things to consider.

Photo Credit: Laurie Pink via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Laurie Pink via Compfight cc

My Facebook footprint (or, Faceprint, if you will) does not tell the story of any particular stereotype (baby worshiper, animal lover, gym god, partier, or foodie), it does, rather, tell a tale of my adventures around the globe, fun outings with friends, new hairstyles, and the Beers of Belgium. Because of my privacy settings, a future employer will not be able to dig deeply into my true presence. Hidden betwixt the “cheers” photos, sporting events, and beach trips are the posts that define me and make me a desirable employer: the posts about an inspiring read, shares of a poignant video about disadvantaged students, articles about educational reform, or shared tweets about excursions my students have gone on.

The truth is–my faceprint, footprint, and life are out there on the web. No matter how careful I am about sharing–I exist. I can’t change what others post about me or how someone may chose to shame me in a public forum. But I can monitor myself. When I put my name and face out there, I need to ensure that I am doing so in the way in which I want to be remembered: polite, principled, and passionate. Now, can the rest of the adults please remember to do the same?

epilogue

If poor Hannah Jordan’s dad had just been a bit more like my own father, her footprint may look a tad more like mine. If her dad would have acted differently and not destroyed her laptop by gunshots and then uploaded it to YouTube, then when I Googled her nearly 4 years after the event, there would be no ugly memory. If her dad had just been a bit more polite, principled, and maybe a little less passionate, people may actually hire her.