There are a lot of interesting things going on in the world. People are fighting. People are inventing new things. People are discovering new things. New things are discovering people. Despite all of these big important stories, if you google “yoga teacher fired by Facebook” you get 35,500,000 results. Admittedly, not all of these hits will be about how one Alice Van Ness so upset a woman with the power of her glare that she lost her job, but skimming through a few pages makes it clear that folks care about this. At least enough to copy and paste it to their news site.
Here’s the low-down. Ms. Van Ness teaches a class at the Facebook Fitness Center in Menlo Park, CA. The Facebook Powers That Be (PTB) have a sort of loosey goosey approach to structure in fitness classes. The order given to Ms. Van Ness was, basically, to let the folks do whatever the heck they wanted. I work as a nanny and I know that no rules equals chaos much as too many rules equals boring crapfest. I can show you the math on that one.
Generally, according to Ms. Van Ness, she was cool with the chaos rule. One sticking point, though, was phones in practice.
Now, there’s definitely a generation gap when it comes to phone etiquette. Where some of us get embarrassed if our phone rings while we’re out to dinner, others are cool with full on convos and email checks over hors d’oeuvres. I’m older-ish, and therefor fall into the category of folks who think your phone shouldn’t ring in a theatre, movie or, yes, yoga class unless you’re on the donor list waiting for a kidney.
According to Ms. Van Ness, she had requested that the woman on the receiving end of the super glare turn her phone off before class began. So when it rang during class, and the Facebooker went to pick it up, Ms. Van Ness unleashed a power used for generations by parents, teachers and this baby to chastise those who might dare to stretch the boundaries of etiquette and good behavior.
Was the stank eye justified? Most sensible folks would say yes. Even those with little knowledge of yoga associate it with a sense of calm and an aura of quiet. When I go to yoga, I don’t bring my tech. I like the calm. I like the time spent on myself. I like that I can hear myself breathe. If someone’s phone goes off, it’s like a big, ringing elephant in the room, stomping through practice. I’m not good at mellow. I have to work hard it. I just spent half an hour deep breathing and finding new ways to bend in order to relax a bit and your ringing elephant just stepped on my head.
After the magical stank eye, the offended phone-lady left the room. Not to find another activity or to finish her phone call in private. She left to complain to the PTB. And the PTB fired Ms. Van Ness. I have a hard time imagining messing with someone’s livelihood over something this trite. It seems childish to deprive everyone of a teacher because you were silently called out for being inconsiderate. Still, we don’t know what Ms. Van Ness’ work was like. We don’t know what other incidents may have occurred in the past. We weren’t there. But if this is the sum total of the story, then I think perhaps the woman with the phone needs to mellow out a bit.
I hear yoga’s good for that.
Hey, don’t forget to send me suggestions for my Public Displays of Yoga photo blog. One person will get a Passport to Prana card out of it!