So, it seems to me that in today’s day and age, people have absolutely no problem expressing themselves when they are sitting behind the safety of their computer. They somehow feel as if they have the right to mouth off without any responsibility to the people that they are bashing. I call these people keyboard warriors. Without any face-to-face contact they think they can say whatever they want.
I had a few run-ins with keyboard warriors when I was a professor.
The first was so horrifying I wish at that time I had screamed louder about the injustice. A student in my in-person graduate-level class filed a complaint against me for a non-specific racial incident. He sent an email to his advisor explaining the accusation in very general terms giving no specifics. My advisor was informed and called me. I was baffled and explained the two very unusual interactions with this particular student – I had declined his parking pass (not kidding, he actually asked me) and then he had pitched a fit in class about his access to online materials as a graduate student. An informal meeting was held with the student and he puddled in a pile of tears admitting he had lied. He knew his work was sub-par and thought that since he claimed racism he would be believed without question and I would be too scared to do anything than give him an A.
A second student was taking four summer courses (I came to learn against the advice of her advisor and departmental policy), my online course and also working full-time. She repeatedly complained about the amount of work (a full semester in a month is never going to be easy) and wrote me an email stating “you have no idea what it is like to be a busy person.” No good could possibly come from me using my keyboard to reply so I asked her to call. I let her know that I finished a master’s full-time while working full-time and pregnant and I was currently teaching full-time, working on my PhD, raising three children, and getting a divorce. As I finished my explanation I cautioned her to never make this type of accusation again. She too wound up crying and profusely apologized. I then had to get her advisor involved and learned the student lied and was not to be working full-time with the course load.
And then we see this all the time on social media. A good friend of mine got himself in a heap of trouble and was tried in the court of Facebook opinion. There was one fellow classmate of ours who went back to our college days and said the most inappropriate things. We’ve watched others shoot their mouth off – inappropriately and disrespectfully about politics. My first thought is always “they would never say that in person.”
Have I been a keyboard warrior? In some ways, absolutely yes. There are many times when I post articles to Facebook about the parents who are raising special snowflakes. No, I would never actually talk about that with a parent who needed to hear it. I can guarantee you though that I have never accused someone of being a racist and certainly never let a professor know they didn’t understand what it was like to be me and they had to understand my situation. I don’t think I’ve ever had a professor who would have cared…nor should they.