Reopening of schools in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic places teachers in a horribly uncomfortable spot. Similar to healthcare workers, our educators now find themselves the topic of hateful social media vitriol.
Posts and commentary compare European countries’ successful reopening to the US experience but neglect the fact that those countries see less than 100 COVID-19 cases per day while we see 70,000.
I posted my recent story, “Will We Call Teachers “Heroes” on Facebook When COVID-19 Strikes?” on our companies pediatric page. The eye-opening comments caught my attention.
Most of the responses reflect support for our teachers. Some comments by noneducators and parents emphasize the obligation teachers have to return to class. Some express empathy. Others did not.
Many teachers responded with heartfelt comments. Their strong desire to return to the classroom conflicts with earnest fears for their lives and families.
One teacher’s comment beautifully illustrated the general sentiment with,<“I don’t want to be a hero. I want to be a teacher.”/p>
Another teacher expressed the emotional challenge of reading negative social media comments about educators. She is disturbed and surprised that angry parents are calling teachers “selfish.” One student stated he would “cough on a teacher” if she crossed him.
Another teacher wrote in anguish,“I would take a bullet for a student but to think anyone feels I am selfish because I will not sacrifice my life or my family for my students breaks my heart.”
Dealing with social media toxicity
Given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, many want to stay up-to-date with real-time news updates, and social media connect us to the world. But sometimes what we need most is to disconnect.
Reading negative online commentary is often counter-productive. When the criticism is directed at us, the pain becomes real. We are all human, and being criticized hurts.
Critics and online trolls embrace the anonymity of social media to spew hateful comments. Although a critic’s words often reveal transparent insight into their own psyche, the comments still cause pain when we are the target.
We can not stop the trolls, but we are able to control our emotional reaction to them. I have previously written a framework for dealing with critics.
The framework is detailed in the linked article below, but the idea is simple.
Process criticism as true or untrue and useful or useless.
Criticism that is untrue or useless should be starved with apathy.
Find the truth. Ignore the rest.
Here is my detailed article outlining a framework for dealing with criticism.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member, today. All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info?
Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com