The “Twitter burn” is an art form. The best minds of our generation aren’t writing great novels, they’re working as social media managers for big restaurant chains, rewriting rap lyrics to be about pancakes and firing off snappy comebacks to Twitter trolls in the hopes of coming up with something clever and timely enough to go viral. We expect stuff like that from big brands like Wendy’s, but last week a Web Experience Coordinator from the Frederick County Public Schools system managed to pull off a “sick burn” of her own. But then she got fired.
According to The Cut’s Madison Malone Kircher, it was supposed to snow in Maryland, and a student named Nathan tweeted at the FCPS account to say, “close school tammarow PLEASE”
The county public school account Tweeted back: “But then how would you learn how to spell “tomorrow”? :)”
That was pretty funny for a Tweet from a Maryland public school district, and it was liked more than 1,400 times and retweeted more than 1,100 times. FCPS Web Experience Coordinator Katie Nash probably thought she had a hit on her hands, but then district officials told her to delete it. On Friday, Nash was fired.
FCPS said they personally apologized to the student on the receiving end of the Tweet, but over on Twitter he’s been saying that he thought it was funny, and that he didn’t take the tweet personally or consider it “bullying.”
“It just sort of an opportunity to respond and do so in a fun lighthearted way,” said Nash to Your4State.com.
Firing Nash over the tweet is extreme, especially since Nash says she was just trying to do what the district had been telling her to do. The school system wanted “more engagement” with the students, and focus groups with students had indicated that they didn’t like the “boring” school Twitter. When it was just flatly relating school district info, the students didn’t like it. They said they wanted the account to tweet back at them and interact with them more, the way business accounts like Wendy’s and IHOP do, so Nash did that.
A school isn’t Wendy’s, though, and one can see where officials would panic at the idea of one of their web employees mocking their students on the Internet. There’s no guarantee a kid will think it’s funny like Nathan did, and school officials have parents to worry about, too. A Twitter manager can’t possibly know the circumstances of all the kids in her district, and “lighthearted ribbing” does not always look the same to everybody.
Nash didn’t do anything wrong and most of the community seems to have liked the Tweet very much, but this must have been a wake-up call for school district officials who just realized they don’t actually want a fun, hip Twitter presence. They want the boring, flat school announcements and weather info. They could have just told Katie Nash to stick to the boring stuff, though. Firing her was overkill, and a lot of their community seems to agree.