Okay can we stop about the bloody chocolate slice?
If you followed commercial news you could be forgiven for thinking that the most significant events of the last week were the mundane interactions of a bunch of B-grade celebrities (I’m probably being generous there) moping about in a South African jungle reality TV series and that a teacher had politely asked a parent not to send chocolate slice into school because it went against what they were trying to teach about healthy eating.
In case you didn’t see any coverage of the latter, that was pretty much the story. A parent sent some food to school and a teacher sent a note home about it. Oh actually that is not quite the story. A busybody friend of the parent took umbrage at this behaviour and wrote a long internet rant that obviously resonated many other parents. As a result, this rant was widely shared online and reported on in the mainstream media.
I’m not going to try to defend the teacher in this instance, because I wasn’t there, I don’t know the facts and it is none of my business. But nor is it anyone else’s unless they were directly involved with this situation- and that refers to all of the ignorant internet voices that had to add their own exaggerated horror and indignation over such a triviality,
Thankfully, even our insensitive media didn’t stoop to trying to personally identify the school or teacher, but considering if I saw at least three articles relating to it, you can imagine the teacher it is written about know they are the subject of widespread criticism. And if you think not being named makes a teacher not care about the public criticism that is being made of them, you don’t understand professional pride.
I happen to like chocolate slice and any number of other sugary foods that aren’t that good for me. Do I eat them? Yes. But that isn’t actually relevant to the discussion, nor are the preferences of a conga line of internet commentators who were quick to make judgements about the situation.
Much like the Bellerive Primary School healthy eating initiatives that drew such backlash last year, this is not an issues that should be played out on social media. So you may well ask why am I even writing about it?
This is a good question and I am cognisant of the irony that I am writing on the internet about my dislike of people bitching about their problems on the internet. But I am going to forge ahead, to try to make a point about how we solve problems with others.
If you need to raise a public campaign about a real issue that affects a large swathe of people, social media can be great, but this mainly works for trying to influence public figures and companies who you don’t have direct access to. If you want to deal with a personal problem, jumping straight online instead of talking to the people involved (hello Donald Trump) makes you sound like a 13-year old who has just gone through their first break up.
If the person who wrote this article really felt so strongly about this that they felt the need to interfere with the intention of achieving a positive outcome, they could have done the grown up thing and gone and spoken to the school. But they didn’t, they chose to moan about it on the internet. Perhaps they are enjoying their moment of celebrity, but surely someone that gets this enraged about the potential for harm of a polite note from a teacher, can also see the much greater potential for harm that a horde of online critics can do.
Social media is a great vehicle for shifting public awareness on important issues. But an innocuous conversation between a teacher and a parent does not fit that description.