It really has been a long time since I posted on here. Part of that’s been workload, part of that’s been me being busy doing other things, and part of that is because the once lovely EduTwitter has turned into something of a nasty caricature of itself. This morning, before even becoming aware of the the latest in a long line of the pack mentality forcing someone off social media, I posted this:
I’d seen yet another long-winded conversation between two respected Twitter colleagues of mine that made me want to bash my head into the nearest wall. One posted something the other decided wasn’t right to post, and was demanding things of the author that really a) weren’t necessary and b) was pretty much none of his business. It went on and on and on, and 10 hours later is probably still going.
There’s been a few of these in my timeline lately, all a variation on a similar theme. One from the other night that has stuck in my mind was, whilst not instigated, certainly pursued, by a ‘big name’ on Twitter. Again, someone had had the temerity to post something that someone had disagreed with. This big name engaged in what I can only call cyberbullying in an attempt to get them to delete the post and retract any and all comments related to it, and to publicly apologise ‘for their behaviour’. Really? If you go after an individual for posting something you happen to disagree with, whether you deliberately engage a pack of followers to join in or not, your behaviour is not above reproach. To then decide that the original author’s reaction to being harassed in such a way means that you are going to be condescending and decide that the ‘debate’ is over and you’re going to mute them so that they go away… well… it’s not really the behaviour of the highly educated and seemingly respected person I thought they were.
EduTwitter used to be a place to share and debate ideas. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of brilliant people who go out of their way to support others, whether through advice and guidance, coaching, sharing resources they’ve spent hours creating or just giving a general pick me up. Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming somewhere to shy away from sharing thoughts and ideas. It seems to be becoming a place for the sharks to force out the minnows, to steal an analogy I saw elsewhere today.
‘Monstering’ is a term I first saw in reference to the behaviour of Richard Littlejohn, the infamous <insert every nasty name possible> ‘columnist’ for the Daily Fail. In being used to describe his behaviour in going after innocent people, it’s a perfect fit for what I’ve seen time and again on EduTwitter, including what’s happened to Teaching Newbie today. I’d link to his/her account or blog if I could, but it’s all gone. Why? Because they dared to write a post in support of Michaela. Now, I’m on the fence about them myself – I see some great ideas coming out of there but certain other aspects worry me. I’d need to see them for myself, but it’s prohibitively expensive to make the journey. So I don’t condemn them overall, but I hesitate to give total praise either. Having said that, I’m not fussed if you do swing one way or the other about them.
I did read Teaching Newbie’s post about their visit to Michaela, albeit after some apparent names had been removed. I didn’t find anything offensive, even though I didn’t like everything I read. To be honest, the content of the post isn’t really the issue or the point of this blog. It’s that instead of considering that someone can hold an alternate view, or accepting that someone might have unknowingly crossed a line by naming individuals, there’s been a full-fledged attack to get this person to change what they wrote. People make mistakes. I know it’s hard to believe, but even a ‘fully functioning adult’, as one series of attacks put it, can make them. Surely engaging that person in reasonable conversation about your concerns is better than jumping straight to threatening legal action and grassing them up to their employer? Whatever happened to the sensible side of people when dealing with issues?
Teaching Newbie has now left Twitter and removed their blog. That’s a clearly new teacher who will no longer access the fantastic resources that EduTwitter has to offer, or share their thoughts in a way that can help to improve their practice. All because of the behaviour of a few who got their knickers in a twist over something that they didn’t like.
I hope those people are proud of themselves. I, for one, am ashamed to be associated with them.