Lim: We need to be heard

Melanie Lim.
Melanie Lim.File photo

This week, a viral TikTok video of a teacher’s rants caught our attention. Was it verbal abuse? Oh yes. She might have meant well but the road to good intentions must be paved with the right words.

But I confess that, often, I want to use those blunt and blistering words, too, out of sheer frustration, to drive home the message. And the situations that really get the better of me usually involve any of the three: indolence, idiocy or indifference. But the blueprint for utter defeat for me is the presence of all three.

But I’m old now so I know better. When I’m enraged by some blunder at work, I no longer confront (if I can help it) the erring employee. Instead, I talk to someone else and wait for some time to pass to talk to the person concerned.

But I’m definitely a ranter. I rant often—to my sisters, venting all my frustrations about others, using the same language as the teacher did in the TikTok video. I rant to my sisters because I can’t use those words to talk to the people I really want to say them to.

The last thing I would do, though, would be to livestream my rants. Why did she? Is it simply the norm these days? She seemed at the end of her rope. Was she trying to elicit sympathy?

Because I imagine I would livestream a rant only if I were desperate, in need of immediate help or extremely frustrated that I’m not being heard. Perhaps, that’s it. The teacher felt she was not being heard.

I’m not saying her students were unintelligent, undisciplined and unmotivated. I’m not saying her students were indolent, insubordinate and irresponsible. But their behavior might have shown evidence not to the contrary.

Imagine having to go to work every day in a toxic environment where you are ignored, disrespected, maybe even mocked. Wouldn’t that constitute abuse, as well? Wouldn’t that lead to moments of lunacy like livestream rants? Wouldn’t that trigger toxic behavior, too?

As professionals, we should not seek excuses for our misdeeds. But we should dig deeper and uncover the root causes of the problem.

Why did the teacher snap? Was it just a momentary lapse in judgment? Or was this the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Frustration at work can come from being underpaid, overworked, undervalued and unappreciated.

That’s how teachers feel. I know. I was a teacher for 13 years. I had my share of problematic students. That’s how homemakers feel, too. And I know because I’m a homemaker, too.

There is no prestige attached to the work we do. We are not afforded the same kind of respect that other professionals get. Add to that, a toxic work environment where there is little to zero cooperation but a lot of unconcern and passive aggression. Top that off with low pay, no appreciation, plenty of derision and a punishing workload.

I don’t think she was right. But she needed to be heard.

It’s time every person who is overworked, undervalued and underappreciated is heard.


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