Watch What We Whisper

So a Florida man dogged his employers, a U.A.E.-based company on Facebook while vacationing back home. When he returned to the U.A.E. to work, he was arrested for cyber slander.

(Cyber slander. Yeah, it’s a Thing now.)

Anyways, after a few months of headache, the charges were dropped.

When I initially read about this on CNN I started to thinking about a few things. First, did this man not research the country he was going to live in? Did he not realize that this country has laws that are different from America and how he will have to follow the laws of the land when working there? I understand that he was on U.S. soil when he wrote the negative and racist comment on his Facebook page, but did he not consider that this comment would backfire? Apparently not!

Research is so important when you travel the world. Just because we are American doesn’t mean that the American Rights cover us all around the world. Research is key and this man admitted he didn’t even know he was committing a crime in the U.A.E. at all!

Second, why post the comment anyways? It was super negative and completely racist, a bit uncalled for in my opinion. (but that’s just me.) I understand the digital era has given people a more lax view on communication and allows many to voice their ideas and concerns more so than in past years. While I love technology, the internet and the ability to connect to others digitally, I have always monitored myself. In America we have the Freedom of Speech so there can be the most heinous topics mentioned and nothing can come from them. But just keeping yourself in-check is not a bad thing to contemplate. Don’t whine so much somewhere (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that people can find it and use it against you. Instead, use that lock-and-key diary that one weird aunt got you for your 12th birthday to write those thoughts in. Personally I think venting to your close friends or family members is the best route to go. Get it off your chest and then its just a person who can point fingers. (Check ’em for wires before you start to gab- Just kidding- but seriously!)

My job has geared me to stay more mute on voicing my complaints. I’m a teacher, which puts me above the law and mandates that we show extremely ethical practices. According to the ethical agreement of my school district I should not drink, smoke cigarettes, dress provocatively or engage in loose behavior. Teachers in the U.S. have gotten “let go” because there were pictures on their Facebook page showing them out with friends and drinking a beer. Apparently having friends and having a drink is a horrible thing for an educator to do in his or her free time. Instead we should be in our house knitting socks or something.

Another teacher in the U.S. who took a summer job as a JC Penny’s model was fired since she wore bathing suits in the catalog. In case you missed part of that sentence… JC Penny’s… not Maxim, not Playboy… JC Penny’s. So the pictures would be pretty simple and not risqué. Whatever the medium, she was fired from her teaching job as this was an ethical breach of her contract.

Whether it is (right or wrong), it’s still a concern we have to think about. In America, we supposedly have freedom of speech, realistically teachers do not have these freedoms without extremely negative consequences in some cases as seen in some of the examples above. I have become accustomed to this and my friends now know that certain things don’t get posted to my page and they refrain from certain topics to keep me in the Safe Zone. My job is my life and I would not want some stupid comment I made in frustration to ruin my career or in the U.A.E.’s case, take my freedom.

Which leads me to a general question: Do we as a societal group not have control? Why are so many of us unable to keep our digital voices in-check? I choose what I will say and when I will say it. Every time I hear about someone posting something and getting in trouble I ask myself, “Why? Why did they feel that this specific comment was necessary? Was it exceptionally insightful? Did it prove a point that was vital to everyone’s life? What was the absolute reason for them to say this?” Most of the time it’s something that is so trivial and unnecessary, (as well as showing poor spelling and punctuation- sorry English teacher) that I laugh because WHY POST IT AT ALL!?!

We need to think before we act or … (dun dun dun)… bad things can happen. Don’t post the instant you think of something or the moment you are upset. I have learned that I don’t respond to an email when I’m irritated because it will probably come off snarky. I’m naturally sarcastic and even more so when frustrated. If i’m upset with a friend I let myself simmer a bit, think about what I really want to say and the real reasons for my thoughts. Then I respond. Most people do these kinds of things every day so they don’t emotionally blow-up on loved ones. Why are we not doing this digitally?

I am not trying to be preachy, but what made me upset was this Florida man’s comment about not knowing the laws of the country and using the American Constitution as an excuse. Add on that recently there have been so many people getting caught posting something cruel or inappropriate and getting called out on them. Maybe we all need to think a little before we actually click “post” next time, especially if you are posting about your job or… I don’t know maybe… A RACIST COMMENT! Geez Louise!

I don’t think this will be a problem for most of us. Those that want to travel and work abroad realize that we need to do our homework  to see what is illegal as well as taboo so as to not ruffle any feathers, but situations like this make Americans look bad on a global-level!

Read one of CNN’s articles on this situation here.

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