Monday, March 26, 2007

Nobody Every Told Me Advising Would Include This

Sometimes, I forget how young and foolish the freshmen we teach really are -- and how their bad decisions can end up truly hurting them and threatening their futures.

Last week reminded me.

A young female student came to class obviously distressed -- eyes red and swollen, pale and shaky -- not the usual hangover symptoms. As her head was clearly not in the game, I didn't call on her or generally pester her in class.

After class, I called her aside to ask what had happened to put her in such distress. Honestly, I was expecting to hear about a family member's death.

It turns out that she had broken up with her boyfriend over the weekend. This wouldn't have been howl-worthy, except that in their brief (three-month), torrid fling, she had let the now-ex take some...compromising photographs of her. In flagrante.

Of course, what did the ex do when he was thrown over? He posted them on the internet, added some clever captioning, commentary and a frank, unflattering evaluation of her "performance." Then he shared the link with all of their mutual friends and acquaintances.

My first thought was, "What in the world persuaded you that taking those pictures was a good idea?" Then, "What do I advise her to do?" Does she tell her parents? She probably ought to, but I cant even IMAGINE how that conversation would go.

Should she sue? Well, she's over eighteen, and consented to the activity...

In the end, I punted to the Counseling Center, but I can't get the poor thing out of my mind. What happens when she applies for an internship, or a job, and her potential employer Googles her name?

Those photos are going to follow her around forever, thanks to the wonder that is the internet.