I have always been a strong proponent of Social Media. When I worked for a school district, I spent a lot of time over a couple of years trying to convince the board to allow the internet filters be loosened. I thought it was beneficial to let the students express themselves, and see that social media could be used with restraint. Facebook allowed me to reconnect with people I had not seen in decades. It brought me closer to my friend Paul Barlow as he was going through the struggle of losing his youngest to cancer. This got me off my butt, and running to raise money for St Jude Hospital, which in turn will probably add years back on my life. Professionally, I have met some amazing people through Twitter. I even had the chance to appear on a “panel of experts” at a national conference because of the connection made through Twitter. I know that my own professional learning was enhanced by social media.
I have often scoffed at people that make the big proclamation before pulling away from Social Media. “Why in the world do they need to make an announcement? Just do it already. You won’t be missed.” I still feel that way, but I also understand now, why those people might have felt the need for one last rant before turning things off.
Last night I was in bed reading through my twitter feed, AS USUAL. I came across a tweet from a young 2LT. This young lady must have just graduated her Officer Basic Course, or completed some other milestone. She had posted a picture of herself proudly wearing the blue stetson of an armor officer. You could see the pride in her face, and the determination in her eyes to be the best young officer she could be. It brought back a lot of my own happy memories from 30 years ago. I congratulated her, and wished her the best, and went to sleep. Never thinking a thing about it. Then I woke up.
The first thing I saw on twitter were other Officers and NCO’s taking people to task for their comments on twitter. After a few minutes of checking I found it was all directed at the 2 LT in the paragraph above. Sure there were a lot of congratulatory messages, and messages of good luck, but something had also turned ugly. In the space of about 8 hours, this young officer had pulled herself off twitter. The messages had changed from good too bad. She was getting threats for her life and safety. I don’t know if it was actual soldiers, or not, but she was being threatened with rape if she reported to “their” unit. Some of thing threats were even worse, and more directed. What should have been on of the happiest moments in this young lady’s life was now ruined by a bunch of misogynistic asses. I am betting that most of them probably didn’t even have the courage to sign up for service themselves. I am sorry I do not know the young lady’s name, but Lt Trouble or @giltheamazon I AM SORRY.
I am sorry that you had to go through this, and I am sorry that in your future Army career, you will probably face this same crap again and again. Most of it won’t be to your face, it will be said behind your back in the barracks, Enlisted and NCO clubs, and even the Officer club. I am also sorry that you have to face it online as well. The same is true for every woman in regards to their online life. The social media companies need to do a much better job of protecting their customers.
I think this has been building for a while. I was sick of all the lies that Facebook let slide during the election season. I understand the theory that SM sites are not publishers, and therefore not responsible for the content. In my mind, that might have been true, when people used Twitter to find out what Ashton Kucher was eating for breakfast, and back in the days that Facebook was used to help grow your neighbors crops in Farmville. Those days, though, are long over. I don’t think these sites should be responsible for editorial and opinion content, but I do think they should be responsible for people spreading lies and pretending it to be fact. They should also be responsible for immediately removing threatening speech on their platform. It can be done, the technology is there, they just need to do it!
I know that my actions do not make any difference to anyone but me. I know that my choosing to not post on Twitter or Facebook is not going to make an impact with those companies either. Like most people that make these threats, I’ll probably come back eventually.
Here is the main reason I wanted to write this. I know that some of my friends, and a lot of acquaintances follow me on Facebook and Twitter to see the pictures I post from Switzerland. If you still want to see these pictures, you will have to subscribe at https://theexpateducator.org I will no longer be linking my blog posts to my Facebook or Twitter pages. If you want to contact me, my email is listed on that site as well.
Take care, and I’ll see you all later.