Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Lesson for us all in 'topless teacher' Joanne Salley's nightmare ...

Joanne Salley in one of the provocative snaps
Joanne Salley in one of the provocative snaps
Joanne Salley

It's hard not to feel sympathy for "topless teacher" Joanne Salley. Yes, I know it sounds like a phnarr-phnarr sex comedy. A beautiful teacher. A boys' school. Saucy pics. Throw in Harrow and it's a big media event. Except, at its heart it's not funny, but the stuff of tragedy and trauma.

The former-Miss NI is said to fear her teaching career could be over after the photos were found on a memory stick in the school's photographic studio.

Cynics will put "ex- model" and PR claims that she could make a £1m together and conclude that, even if unplanned, it's turned out rather well for her. Except, of course, Joanne was perfectly happy with her life as it was. And now her name will forever be linked to the words "topless teacher".

True, she was a model and she did willingly pose for a fellow teacher. But that doesn't make it alright. As always, the point is in the context. There's a big difference between discreet "artiness" for the eyes of a few and photos being passed round via mobiles, for the, er, entertainment of pupils and the gawking millions in cyberspace, ready to laugh, mock and leer.

Joanne's story touches on very modern neuroses. For most of us, it isn't saucy snaps but there's always something - even if it's just the fear of personal information, however banal, falling into the hands of strangers: a mislaid mobile, a wrong email address, a laptop left in a taxi ... suddenly life is turned upside down.

Every day, thanks to technology, the line between the public and the private grows thinner and thinner.

Through no fault of her own for Joanne that line has been completely erased. And that, surely, for all the sniggering, is no laughing matter.

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