This comes up occasionally in Twitter discussions and elsewhere and I’ve finally decided to bring my perspective to the discussion. Why should you care who follows you on Twitter? When this question arises some take the, “It has absolutely no consequence, who cares!?” attitude while some of us are a bit more pensive. I remember having a short discussion about it with David Warlick when we were in Shanghai. He had obviously never thought about it, or at least not much, and his attitude was that he has absolutely no time to consider that and doesn’t want to have to. And he probably doesn’t have to. And you might not have to either.
So who does then? Teachers. Especially elementary teachers or anyone working with young children probably. Why? Guilt by association – because you can make a choice about blocking someone.
Case in point (and I could share many examples). Prostitution is legal in some counties in the state of Nevada where I live. Often people get followed on Twitter by people because they see you are local. So a few months back a “cat house” in the next county started following me. I let it go for a few days, but then after some thought blocked them. I block any porno or close to porno followers. I know this seems like a stretch, not a probable outcome, but in Twitter anyone can check out who is following me. What if a parent, grandparent, community activist, possible employer … you fill in the blank, checked out my followers and saw this porno site following me? Why didn’t I block them? Does that somehow show tacit approval of what they are about? (BTW how about a Nazi group or racist group or child sex site? Put whatever person or group that is most abhorrent to you in the blank). Since I can block them and I didn’t … could that be used against me in court? Does that reflect on me getting a job – like what I put or who I associate with on FaceBook could?
If you think I’m out of my mind consider this. As a male elementary teacher I have been advised numerous times, starting in college, about touching kids. Everything from being careful about doing it to downright being told pointblank by a school district assistant superintendent that that will just not happen. “You (or any other male teacher) will not touch students in any way, not a pat on the back, not a hand on their shoulder.” And over the years I’ve heard it in meetings from principals to policemen.
There’s lots of stigma placed by society on certain professions, rightly or wrongly so. I love my job and I’m just not going to take this chance.
BTW – I doubt I’ve been perfect at blocking, so should I go through my 1,000 or so followers and check again? It’s a messy question.
Learning is messy!