“So, do we have a policy for leaders who post things on facebook that maybe don’t make them a good role model?” One of my Girl Scout leaders asked me the other night. “Because….” and she proceeded to share her concerns.
Her question indicates a new struggle in our society of online communities and connections. How do we deal with employees or volunteers or members who represent us or their organizations poorly online?
Very rarely do we only represent ourselves. We almost always represent others as well. I cannot ever assume that my actions or words are reflecting me alone. I represent my family, my church, the organizations I serve and Jesus Christ with every blog entry, every facebook post, every tweet, and every picture someone else posts of me.
Just like in my offline world, I have to be careful with my words and actions.
Because I live my online life so publicly, it means that I sometimes have to make decisions. I may have political leanings one way or the other, but I don’t usually share them (because I represent a tax-exempt, religious organization that has followers of all political persuasions). I am careful about my language and the content of my posts and I ask others to be careful about what they post on my wall (because I am a youth director who has people of all ages in my friends list). I try not to post things that are divisive or sketchy on my blog (because I am aware that people from all places in my life have read or do read these pages–some more than others).
Some people would wonder if this means that I am not truly myself here. I think the opposite is true–I feel like I do a pretty good job of representing myself genuinely online. I’m just careful because I know that people reading my words here, on Facebook, on Twitter know who I am. They know I work at the Presbyterian Church. They know I work with their children. They know I serve Girl Scouts or Big Brothers Big Sisters or Operation Christmas Child or any of the other organizations I serve. They know I am Jason’s wife. They know I am Jonas’ Stepmother…etc.
So what do I do with an employee or a volunteer who does not represent our organizations well? Is it fair or right or legal for me to ask others to have the same filters I do? Is that censorship?
I’m not yet sure. I’m still discerning how to handle that.