Perhaps you’ve heard. Perhaps you’ve heard wrong.

Sometimes you can’t win. That was the case for Tim Torkildson, a social media specialist who made news after his post about homophones cost him his job for “creating the perception that the school followed a pro-gay agenda,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.  Torklindson’s boss at the private ESL school where he worked in Provo, Utah, said the school would be known for supporting homosexuality, according to the newspaper account.

Instead, the school is known for ignorance on the part of its administration about the very subject they teach – English language. Interestingly, the Tribune, which is close geographically to Provo, was careful to interview the boss, who said the sacking wasn’t about that particular post. And in a more nuanced interview in Newsweek, Torkildson said the boss was actually more concerned that the post would confuse the students, English learners.

But the social media forwards, and there are many of them, are largely missing this nuance. What do I take away from this?

  • It’s hard to capture nuance in 140 characters
  • It’s worth it to check things out before sharing/retweeting/etc. This goes triple for the media, many of whom went with the misleading account.
  • It’s more fun to tell an inflammatory story. That doesn’t make it ok.
  • If you are the boss, it’s worth it to look things up yourself. 
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