Sometimes I wonder how we adults take a stance on things we do not do well ourselves: sometimes we don’t get it right when it comes to social media etiquette, so how can we expect our students to do so? We are all connected and wired to one another, and have equally sized megaphones drowning out respect and ideas. Determining when to cut loose or when to strengthen bonds is challenging sometimes. My decade-long love affair with the written word on a computer screen is still in the honeymoon phase. But not all my friends and colleagues have enjoyed this delicious means of communication. Mordechai Luchins wrote an article for GeekDad, “Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Unfriend Without Guilt.” The take-away:
Remember, your feed/wall is your digital home. If you see that someone is not someone you’d want to invite to hang out in your real house, why would you invite them into your virtual one?
We haven’t had guests in our real home in a long time: this weekend my brother-in-law is coming out for some July 4th hijinks: it was great to have this real goal of getting the house back in some shape: it’s not a dirty house, but became cleaner. We pushed to get our air conditioning fixed, and did other house projects. Point being: we do decide how we want to present ourselves in our real and digital lives. Be mindful, and hopeful. There are some rules of thumb, though, you may want to keep in mind (and help students understand, too).
1. Don’t be afraid, but have some common sense, too. Do I think this teacher should be fired? No, but it doesn’t matter what I think. To me, this just shows how all of us may misstep our social media bounds. But if something just is mean-spirited, rethink it.
3. Be clear in intent: I cannot help or defend when someone thinks I’m self-promoting, self-aggrandizing, or proselytizing. To be fair, if someone knows me well, they know I am a thinker and curious. Sometimes this ‘seeing all sides’ thing drives my husband crazy, who is capable of seeing a situation or controversy in clean lines. Since being judged as someone who is just a pot-stirrer, I am increasingly mindful of stating intent in potentially controversial posts. But I reserve the right to state a claim, too.
4. Perspective. The Internet has done a great job at creating a chum-bucket of click bait. If you intend to litigate every post, you will have no time to watch those cat videos. Be respectful of perspectives, and don’t lose sight that people bring a whole lot of unspoken personal truths with them everywhere they go, virtual spaces most of all.
5. Share and Share Alike. If you link an article or idea that someone else has written a statement or idea about, link the entire thing, including their comment or insight. You are welcome to state your own ideas/opinions in your forum.
6. Share and Shake It Off. If someone forgets to @yournamehere, let it go, too. The Internet is an echo chamber, and inherently serves the intention and will to repost and share good articles and ideas. What fascinates me is how it’s altered the art of conversation: our minds work like Reddit feeds now: layer upon layer, so far down the rabbit hole, we can’t possibly keep track of everything that sparks our interests.
7. No Quarter. If you still see someone’s posts, but they never comment on yours or give you a ‘thumb’s up,’ it means they’ve hidden your posts; you’re not ‘unfriended.’ In my personal experience, I can only infer that I have posted way too many controversial/political posts and it’s fatiguing for most colleagues. It’s okay. Curate your own information, too. (Pinterest has become my haven for my virtual bulletin boards, as has Tumblr.)
8. U and Me. Don’t assume everything posted by a colleague is their personal gospel: perhaps they are wanting to engage a conversation about a topic and get different points of view. I know that is why I post many things, because I am curious, not judgmental. I enjoy thinking about something from many perspectives. (See #3.)
9. Sins. We humans, so full of flaws. I have had to hide friends’ posts because I can’t see one more shot of their toes in Hawaiian surf, or when someone pontificates in political diatribe that offers no room for dialogue. It’s not that I don’t want them to have their vacation, of course I do, and I truly honor free speech. But these things can distract us from our core selves, and get our own purposes splintered.
Though this is intended for business, it serves us educators, too: (Click to make larger.)
10. Fuggedaboutit. As my esteemed friend says, Rule #10 is break the rules. If it’s important to you to say and think, you will find a way to do so. Nothing is as protected as a good, old-fashioned journal or idea list.
Somehow my rules became paragraphs.
Ah well. Thumbs up anyway!