Being a guest on Twitter: @lessoncopy‘s ‘Twilight’ Show on @TTRadio2022 on the first Thursday of November 2022, inspired me to explain a little more of the controversial calls I’ve encountered during my time on Twitter…
(Apologies to Dexys Midnight Runners for plagiarising their 1982 classic)
Thank you to Nexus Education for hosting my observational offerings inspired by Twitter: @EatSleepICTRpt in the week that one of the reputedly wealthiest people on the planet pays US$ 44 billion to become the overlord of Twitter. It was my experience of being a ‘wannabe influential voice’ on the landscape of education which saw me having to have a ctrl-alt-del moment at the end of 2019. The reboot of my account with a more irreverent and frivolous approach has very pleasantly culminated in a ten-fold increase in followers over two years compared to the previous seven.
During my first incarnation on Twitter, I witnessed what I thought was a despicable and controlling reaction to a post by Twitter: @SendiSaundersRE who dared to either use the ‘edutwitter’ hashtag or some similar synonym while posting a fabulous photo of food. The reaction I thought was disproportionate, especially the controlling comments about how the use of the hashtags should not be sullied by frivolous food shots as though it was some really twisted obscene profanity that had been shared. As somebody who has shall I say a little more life experience before social media and having studied a significant amount of Sociology at University, the dynamics of social media does remind me of many of the practices of printed media. Teaching Digital Citizenship through the really comprehensive bank of scenarios produced by the South West Grid for Learning Project Evolve such as this example:
…views my own…
As a very personal observation, the micro-blogging platform is a wonderful way of making connections and essentially promoting whatever message it is that individuals care to share. Mine is genuinely and honestly frivolous irreverence – as a carefully curated online reflection of who I am both personally and professionally. I won’t deny that it always feels wonderful when a post is incredibly popular like this:
However, I take the view that any post that reaches just one reader is as edifying since it makes that single connection even more special. This was particularly evident during 2020 as I’m sure many scrolling by will understand and be able to relate to.
Orbiting the Twittersphere
Unlike my reading and radio listening habits, I am very faithful to only actively using one social media platform. In doing so, I sense that the messages others are sharing are the product of the ‘look at me’ culture which technology has very much enabled. I would include myself in that so am not in any way critical of the phenomenon. As the other guest, Twitter: @MrMattock on @TTRadio2022 ‘Twilight Show’ with @lessoncopy said, it is when the discourse crosses what might be seen as a very thin, fine line between cordial to hurtfully critical that matters can become antagonistically awful.
One of my most enduring memories of teaching Digital Citizenship came in 2021 when asking a class of Year 4 children if they had heard of Twitter, one put his hand up and said “Is that the website that adults use for arguing?” Such an insightful observation highlights so many aspects of social media. Firstly, how the platform operates in terms of the streams of posts which appear on individual ‘home’ feeds. Mine for example, seems to be dominated by those accounts I have previously chosen to follow which frankly are quite bombastic in their world views. I expect that this is because they have curated a social media persona where their voice is amplified by Twitter’s algorithms. I therefore completely understand the consternation that so many have expressed over the musky aroma’s impact across the platform. This however is nothing new since media moguls and press barons have used the broadcasters and newspapers they invested in to exercise their ideas.
Of my social media interactions, the post that @lessoncopy quoted on ‘The Twilight Show’ so eloquently expresses my personal position:
In taking such a stance, what I have found unfathomable is being subjected to what @MrMattock described as the vitriolic and dismissive for simply associating with the likes of @TomBennett71 and his @researchED1 work. The tribalism is reminiscent of the infamous Britpop battle of the mid 1990s although I’m not entirely sure whether @TomBennett71 would consider himself more Liam or Damon…
I was thinking too when penning this piece of including a direct reference to another personal experience in June 2020 of the Twitter spat over the definition of a teacher. Re-reading the thread I was about to refer to makes me realise how in reality inconsequential any post on Twitter is unless someone takes absolute and real-world exception to what is being said. As I teach in my Staying Safe Online sequences of lessons, the World Wide Web is a platform where anybody can share anything with everyone and users must simply be cognisant of that.
Even my daily #morningmugshot which I sporadically started in the Summer of 2020 has been subjected to vitriolic criticism to the point that I’ve been accused of being totally idiotic for either the time of day I’m enjoying my first cuppa or admitting to the fact that my workload was such that I’m having to be in the #teacher5oclockclub staffroom on a school holiday Sunday. I guess it’s a way or the way that others will or choose to engage… I’m always more than happy to share what I have simply because, as I said during the ‘Twilight Show’ with @lessoncopy I “can do and want to…” Besides, it helps me overcome any splintering discomfort from all of the fence-sitting I do…