Recently I’ve been having a hard time deciding how best to deal with people through Facebook. I know there are aÂ myriadÂ of issues regarding engaging young people in a digital space (which I’ve written about beforeÂ and posted guidance on), but it can be a useful and effective medium for youth work.
The problem I have been having is in challenging inappropriate behaviour. Often in my Facebook news feed, there is someone having a rant about something. Fair enough. I usually ignore it and move on, but on a few occasions I have felt the need to intervene. Here are some actual examples:
- When one young person was threatening to assault another (I wrote about it here).
- When a volunteer vented their anger about a particular situation.
- When a young person posted a little too much information about their actions the night before.
- And today, when I “unfriended” a young person for their constant abusive and one-sided tirade on a particular issue.
On each of these occasions I have gently offered a polite question in response to the issue, or have privately messaged the individual involved. As most of these challenges come out of relationship – I personally know each and every person I’ve described above – they have generally been well received and led to some good conversations.
Here’s the thing though; being really honest I’m concerned that I might end up becoming the cyber police! While I use Facebook as a tool, it’s not my job or concern to modify behaviour. I hate going online and thinking: “Hmm I might need to say something”, but I do want to challenge people and enourage them to think about the potential impact of their actions, especially when they seem unaware of who might read their updates.
Maybe it’s just me and I should simply get off Facebook and out of the way of young people who want to freely express themselves. Or maybe someone should take the time to guide, encourage and challenge behaviour from a position of trust. I think I need some help with this one!