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Venting online

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | April 19th, 2017

“I am incredibly sorry for all that's happened. I'm young and made a mistake, and now it has caused me to walk away from my job, have incredible anxiety and guilt, and panic even going outside for the amount of death threats I've gotten,” said Sheridan Tihista via facebook messenger.

Montana native Tihista, a young educator, recently resigned from her special education position at Liberty Middle School in West Fargo due to some unsavory tweets on her personal profile, some of which referenced her students.

One of her former coworkers -- who preferred to remain anonymous -- reached out to us via a facebook message. “The kids at our school miss her. She really was a great teacher.”

According to specialedshortages.org 49 states have reported a shortage of special ed instructors and 82% of those teachers say that schools lack adequate staff to meet the needs of special needs students.

With that being said, can’t we give Sheridan another chance -- hasn’t she been through enough? We admit, we helped fuel the fire and we apologize.

Though none of us here at HPR have children, we understand that we hold our children (and loved ones) near and dear and want what’s best for them. We want positive role models, we want to make sure they are safe and that they are receiving a quality education and are being socialized properly.

In Tihista’s defense we’ve all had bad days, but what we say out of frustration isn’t always indicative of our character. She made a mistake and is paying dearly -- but come on...death threats???

Social etiquette is hard, but social media etiquette is even harder. At least when we communicate in person we have the benefit of interpreting one another’s body language and noting vocal inflections. While online what you see is pretty much what you get -- pepper in a few emojis and hopefully what you’ve just posted won’t be taken entirely out of context -- or worse yet, come back to haunt you.

One mistake that a lot of us tend to make is to vent online, which we openly admit can be cathartic. We get support from our friends, family and followers, but what we don’t always realize is that when we write a post or tweet, we’re sending our own personal headline or news brief to our peers. In the age of typing, texting, and screenshots, many of these statements can be damaging to our personal or work relationships.

Tihista isn’t the first individual that this has happened to and she certainly won’t be the last. In late February of this year a City of Fargo Employee posted a comment on a local media link that if the DAPL protesters didn’t leave before the spring thaw induced flooding, "fence them in, shot (sic) them if they try and leave and let them drown in the flooding." Though this employee was off duty, he cited the City of Fargo on his facebook page thus inadvertently representing them. He received a written reprimand and was suspended without pay.

Don’t even get us started on the Donald…

Venting, there’s nothing wrong with venting, it’s healthy -- but we feel it’s done best with pals or coworkers over cocktails -- but not too loud because that’s a whole ‘nother form of broadcasting.

So, to the West Fargo School District: Think again. It’s not too late to reach out.

And Sheridan, let’s get together for coffee and do some venting!

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