My relationship with social media is mixed at best. I drastically vacillate between enjoying the engagement that comes from talking with old friends and connecting with people I maybe don’t see on a regular basisa and hating the pressure and anxiety that comes with social media. Some of the questions I struggle with include how to navigate the tension between how I use social media on a personal level, and how I use social media on a professional level, and how I use social media in terms of social justice platform. I think inherently I don’t love to post things on social media because it either feels like a) I am bragging or b) like I am yelling at a whole bunch of people to look at a random picture of my cute dog.
In terms of social media platforms, I have a personal Instagram page that I keep fairly small, limited to people I have relationships with currently. This is about the only place I post anything and usually it’s a story that disappears within 24 hours. I have a Facebook page that remains in order to stalk people as needed, mostly limited in usefulness to stalking people over the age of 35. I have a TikTok account that I used to consume vast quantities of videos about dogs, musical theater, Karens doing Karen things, military officers coming home to see their dogs, musical theater dogs, babies, aesthetically pleasing men with their dogs (Hi Brodie!), and finally, random forays into other strange worlds like preppers and the Drake Passage. Oh, and skin care. In short, I use my personal social media primarily for entertainment purposes.
I also have a Twitter account that I use professionally and, I realize, politically. To be honest, most of my news comes from Twitter but with the change in Twitter power it certainly has made me highly aware of what sources I am consuming, and I find myself trusting and using the site less frequently. This has been the space where I follow professional sources, educational sites, and where I amplify the voices of others, where I engage with social justice issues, and otherwise engage on a professional or political level.
As part of Balfour Arts Collective, we maintain a Facebook page, a webpage, an Instagram site, and a Twitter page. Each of these platforms seems to target different audiences, and myself and another colleague do the lion’s share of the posting for BAC. To be honest, it’s a weight sometimes. I do feel the pressure to post because it’s good for our program in that it lets people know what we’re doing and engages parents in the community in student learning. However, as with any other social media platform, consistent posting is key in engaging the community and I find that exhausting at times.
In a recent class I took with Alec Couros we engaged in a series of debates relevant to educational technology. One of the debates was regarding teachers’ responsibility to use social media to advocate for social justice issues. I struggle with this issue. Here are some of my thoughts from my blog on the discussion:
“Some may think we have a deep responsibility to use our own social media platforms to advocate for social justice issues, to advocate for change. But….
Let me be clear: I am not against using social media to advocate for others, or to draw attention to issues our students and communities are facing, or to draw attention to broader global issues. I have no problems with this [and in fact think it’s fantastic!]. I do disagree with those that suggest teachers must use their social media platforms to promote social justice.
I hate the idea that the way we do the work – the work of social justice, the work of engaging in creating equitable spaces for all, must be mandated. We are different people, with different personalities. Not everyone has an online presence, and not everyone wants an online presence. Why does activism have to take place on social media? What if some choose to do the work – and so many obviously do – through other means? There are a multitude of ways we can advocate for social justice that do not involve social media. Like, doing real, live things to help people, rather than just posting about it. I strongly disagree with the poster below. This assumes so much about educators with so little actual information. I would argue that statements like this do more harm than good; they divide in their insistence that social justice must look a certain way. It is incredibly disrespectful to those educators who work hard to create equity and to fight against injustice in ways other than social media.
I have such a bad taste in my mouth from those who are often so vocal on social media, but don’t follow their words with meaningful actions. In the day of performative activism (if activism didn’t happen on social media, did it happen at all?), it sits especially heavy.”
As I read these words back that I wrote about a month ago, I still feel this same way. I want to use my social media platform to advocate for change. But I don’t want to assume that if someone is not, that they are not doing the work. It’s so incredibly disrespectful. To be clear, I’m not suggesting the poster above is not doing the work in real life; I’m concerned with the blanket assumption the poster is making about the rest of the colleagues in their profession.
So, those are my thoughts on social media. This has been a bit exhausting. I should probs go take a TikTok break. There are dogs waiting for me. And babies. And dogs hugging babies.
2 thoughts on “To post or not to post…”
Hi Janeen. Thanks so much for you well articulated thoughts regarding social media use and teacher activism. To be frank, I have never engaged in using my social media for teacher activism either, and I really haven’t thought that it is a requirement of the job and that if I’m not, then I’m not an activist. You make some excellent points, and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with all of them. I had to laugh with your comment that “if activism didn’t happen on social media, did it happen at all?”. That aligns with me not posting about my family, major life events, or really anything unless I want to. It would feel inauthentic if I did so just because of the pressure an expectations of others. Like you, I use social media for entertainment purposes, and I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with all the dog videos….don’t stop with that, k!?
Janeen, what a beautifully written post! I had never really considered the connections between social media and social justice before, but I love how you introduced it and shared your opinions. Thinking of social media as being both personal and political was a mindblown moment for me. I agree that teachers shouldn’t be mandated to advance social justice through their social media – we are already counted on to do so much work outside of school hours. Thanks for opening my mind to a whole other realm of social media!