Throughout my masters journey, the ED Tech courses I have taken with Alec have changed my views on social media. I found I came into my courses with a negative view and felt that social media was causing more harm than good. Now, I have started to see the good that can come from social media through building connections in various communities and much more. One area I still find I struggle with is around Social Media Activism. In some cases it can be a pro-active cause. It can bring good and positivity and awareness to a large group of people. The thing that I struggle with is the amount of negativity and courage it can give to keyboard warriors. So often we see hate spread on social media because people will say things they would never say to someone’s face.
I have noticed that since I have started following people on twitter that I woujld usually never follow that my feed is filled with people using their accounts as a political platform to shout their thoughts and opinons from the rooftops. They are likely to have followers with the same mentality and all of a sudden they gain the traction and attention they seek. This is especially apparent during this pandemic and during the election. People are able to attack others and say whatever they want without facts or reasoning. This isn’t a super big deal but when people tend to believe whatever they see on social media without researching the truth behind it, they can sure influence a large group of people. In the article I found that focused on Public Attitudes toward political engagement on social media it talks about how “Social networking sites have also emerged as a key venue for political debate and discussion and at times a place to engage in civic-related activities”. This was made evident in the #MeToo” movement and #BlackLivesMatter. The study that this article focuses on is based out of the States but I am sure there are many similiarities here in Canada. As Canadians, we are strongly influenced by the Americans so this data is still relevant to us.
Even though the article shares that Americans found social media to be a positive place for underrepresented groups to gain traction, it also states that it can also distract us from more pressing issues. In a way it reminded me of the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The more traction they get the pressure is put on the government to take action. The second article I read, Introduction to Social Media, Activism, and Organizations, it talks about how we learn from previous social media movements and with each new protest we build a stronger platform. This got me thinking that as we enter elections and more social justice movements, that the influence will focus more on social media platforms than other media fronts. This will target younger generations and may work in the favour of some parties over others. It will be interesting to see how things unfold in years to come.
Where I Stand
I am not one to get involved in social media. As previously mentioned, I find there is a lot on social media now between the election, pressure on the government due to the pandemic and people sharing their views on the pandemic in general. It allows for arguments to take place. Sometimes they are respectful and educational but often it turns ugly and takes a different direction. This is where I struggle. I do not enjoy conflict and this is not something I engage in online. As teachers, we often talk about where we should get involved and where we need to watch what we say. In EC&I 830, our final debate argued that educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice. Check out my blog post on this topic here. It feels like there is a lot of outside pressure to have a voice and speak up for those that can’t. However, this can often be silenced by those that are higher up in our divisions. So do we risk our job and say something on social media? It often feels like we are held to a higher standard as teachers. Is this right? Katia’s post about silence speaking louder than words discusses the debate and I question… is social media the place for us to speak up? Or can we find ways to guide a meaningful discussion without risking our livelihood?