Professionalism and Social Media

young woman, social media icons

Certain occupations and professions expect a higher standard of professional and ethical accountability. These include but are not limited to doctors, nurses, law enforcement, religious leaders, political leaders, and yes, educators. Humans are imperfect; the goal is to be intentional and do our best to act with integrity, wisdom, and sound judgment.

Society and families expect educators to adhere to a higher standard when someone chooses to care for their children and other vulnerable persons. A person’s choices in and out of the classroom will matter to the families, an employer, and future career and life endeavors.

Someone is Peeking

Families and other professionals will scrutinize your online presence. What is considered appropriate is subjective based on the individual viewing your social media. Some employers, banks, and other organizations will check an applicant’s social media presence when making decisions. It is a good idea to remember this as you move forward. The truth is that people have been fired, canceled, and even arrested for inappropriate pictures and comments on their social media.

Three Faces we Wear

We all have three different faces: our public face, our private face, and our secret face. Our public face is how we present ourselves and interact at work, in public spaces, with strangers, students, and their families. We share our private faces with people close to us, such as family and friends. We keep our secret face to ourselves or only share it with a few people we trust. Unfortunately, with the advent of social media, these lines are often crossed, exposing sensitive information. People post their private and secret lives on social media for many reasons. There is a sense of anonymity when all you are looking at is a cell phone or computer screen. Sometimes, they give away information about themselves and personal opinions that they might never share with someone face to face, with family, let alone strangers.

Private is no Longer Private

This information used to be the domain of a private journal or diary, safely hidden from prying eyes. The days of meeting up with a friend, a mentor, or a therapist to share feelings, concerns, and events have given way to a quick text or social media post. Everything posted online is there forever if someone wants to find it. As society and thoughts change, something posted five or ten years ago may have a different meaning or implication today. There is no way to know what societal standards will be five to ten years from now. So be thoughtful when posting.

Everything is Saved Somewhere

Many people now opt out of social media or only post things like what they are having for dinner. Many professionals have created professional social media sites and deleted their personal accounts. Many people are only looky loo’s, but even that information is being tracked by the algorithm and saved on some server. And now, with AI, what you write, or images you post is being added to the knowledge base of the growing AI system.

Closing Thoughts

If you are a teacher, remember that students and families are clients, not friends. The people you serve and work with are professional colleagues. Adding them as friends to social media could have negative professional and personal consequences.

Ultimately, what you decide is up to you. We hope this article gives you information and food for thought.