Why do you post on social media? Some people post resources to help others. Some post what they are doing in class hoping to spark an idea for others. While others may post to raise awareness of an event or a cause. Have you ever analyzed why you post to social media? I am probably like most people and post for a variety of reasons.
Who you post to is just as important or perhaps more important than what you are posting. Most social media sites allow your posts to go only to people that you want it to go to or you can post it to the public. What is posted in private is your business. What is posted to the public is our business. When I post my blog, a video from my class, or a response to someone in public on social media I am opening myself up to the world.
Opening yourself up to the world can be scary. People who have never met me will be judging me based on one blog, one tweet, one post, or one picture caption. Not only will they use what I produce to judge me they will look at it with their bias. Bias combined with a lack of perspective can create some wild situations. I know I have been in them! A lot of time people read into your posts what they want to read into it without recognizing what they are doing. That is human nature.
I just had a woman of color ask me why I retweeted and agreed that we need to see more students of color being represented in the #physed videos we see on Twitter. I explained to her that I agreed with that statement and that was why I retweeted it. She immediately blocked me. I don’t know why she did but it was a stark reminder that when you talk about race, gender, sexuality, religion, politics or any other subject that people get emotional about you are opening yourself up to critique. This is the dark side that we don’t speak about enough when you become connected. The bottom line is that is their problem, not yours. You know your intentions and motivations don’t let others dim your light!
Opening yourself to the world can also open doors to the world that never would have existed before. You can gain valuable perspective, new friends, and create opportunities that you would never have had before. The smartest thing I ever did was to find people who are smarter than I am, have been doing their job better than I have, and know more about education than I do. By doing this I have ensured that my thinking will be pushed. When you follow those people and interact with them they will interact with you. They will give you feedback about your lessons, ideas, and pedagogy.
I have created some real friendships through my online presence. These are people I talk to every day. We have met in person, stayed over each others houses, and went on eduvacations together. These people could disappear out of my life at any time. Then again I have had other friends who I grew up with who live ten minutes away from that I haven’t seen in years. Anyone can disappear from your life at any time.
Being connected has made me aware of the many conferences and opportunities to present. I have presented at local, regional, state, national and international conferences. Last year I was flown to Vegas to keynote! (Thanks Heidi Carr!!) All of these opportunities came about because I was connected with other educators on social media.
What always surprises me is when I have responded to people’s posts online and they get upset. Why are you posting things to a public forum for the entire world to see if you don’t want people to respond to your post? There is no “safe space” on public social media. If people want to post things where they only want a clap on the back or affirmation of what they write post it in your private forums. Lockdown who has access to your posts. It just doesn’t make sense to be upset when people comment on your PUBLIC posts. Please remember that when people give you feedback it may not always be positive. It is up to you to decide what to do with that feedback.
My last thought about social media is that there is no vetting of material being posted on social media. Shoot there is no vetting of material that you pay for on teachers pay teachers. Not only is it our job to be critical consumers of information and ideas we need to respond if we see something that may not be best practice. This should be done in the most careful and respectful of ways. If you think something is awry ask the person first. There may be information that the person left out of the post. Go into every encounter with others assuming they have the best of intentions. This will help you remain positive during your interactions.