The Grass Is Greener…

The Right To Post

I’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of maintaining a presentable online persona, and perhaps you have too. We’ve all heard stories of how online gossip can get you on bad terms with your boss, or worse, out of a job. But have you heard about the backlash?

At the University of Calgary one student posted an online complaint. He was upset about a 65% he received from a teacher, so he accused her of laziness and inquired about how he could get a re-mark. His Facebook page stated, “I no longer fear Hell; I took a course with Aruna Mitra”. This landed him probation, along with the others who commented. Three years later, at a judicial ruling, the judge declared the disciplinary measures “excessive”, and no further action should be taken. In fact, it was the institution that was infringing upon the student’s charter rights when they punished them for their online critic. Woah, does this mean no one should be discriminated against for what they post online?

Like anything you say in real life, what you post will effect how people think of you. No matter how free you are to say what you want, there are always consequences to some degree. Perhaps authorities won’t be able to punish you directly, or take you to court, but there are other long-lasing repercussions. What this student has posted will be something he has to deal with forever. It might seem like the he was just trying to get a fair grade, but it sure came across as malicious. His Facebook page, along with his statements to the press, suggest that he wasn’t looking out for the good of himself, but the overthrow of the professor. Which he claims is for the betterment of students everywhere, but how well did he really know her? Was she just going through a hard time, having a bad day? The article mentions that she stopped instructing classes at UofC soon after.

Perhaps he succeeded in his ploy, but at what cost? He now has a certain reputation. He’s now one to be feared, and possibly avoided. But it was his right to say what he wanted. His right, maybe even his duty to bring about justice. To some his story might even be heroic. But perhaps the biggest consequence will be something he has yet to realize.

We all have the right to free speech, and the ability to tear others down. The right to post, and to ruin our own reputations. What should we do?

The article can be found here:


2 Comments so far
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Hi, Ellaina,
It’s scary, isn’t it? The incredible influence our words can have? And now that it’s effortless to publish our words and connect with others, we need to embrace a heightened sense of awareness and responsibility to help guide us in these interactions with others.
That being said, in my opinion, the same rules still apply. Yes, free speech is our right. Advocating for one’s self is a right. Social media aside, you will encounter times when you need to stand up for what you believe in, in a face-to-face conversation. What would guide your words in that scenario? Your value system would help you determine appropriate vs. inappropriate remarks to make and how to approach people, even in conflict situations. The same principles should apply when you’re communicating online.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s easier to be snarky in an email than to speak that way directly to someone. Therein lies part of the problem- it’s just too easy to quickly get our thoughts down and press “Send” when emotions are still running rampant. To answer your question, what should we do… Stop. Think. Plan. React in a way that will uphold your integrity, yet make your point. And if you can’t make your point without sacrificing your integrity, then it’s probably not a point worth making.
Great post!

Comment by Lyn Hilt

Some very wise words indeed, thank you for answering my question as well. Our lives online and in the real should reflect the same one person. You’re right, we should keep the same values and integrity in all situations, online and off.. I hope I can do that, and I hope I have. I wonder if people who have known me only through the internet would meet me and find me to be very much the same person? Thanks for reading, for making me think. Your comment really made my day.

Comment by Ellaina Brown

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