Category Archives: social media

Online Activism: Awareness, Apathy, and Animosity

I do feel that online social media activism can be productive.  It can build awareness in a way that conventional media fails to by removing the authority figure from the distribution.  We do not need mainstream media or governments to forward the information. The public can actually go around those authorities to comment on movements they may shy away from or wish remained hidden.

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This does of course mean that those who wish to attack others can do so in a similar manner. My version of what needs to change may be in direct conflict with someone else.  Just think of the conflicting activism between those who promoted Covid precautions and those who railed against it.  What you view as activism might seem authoritarian to others.

This is where a productive conversation turns to a mess of personal attacks.  The internet provides a bubble of protection, like swearing at someone in your car who cut you off.  How often do you read a thread and actually see a divisive topic calmly discussed? Both sides see the anger but both are blind that the debate is over.  I think there is the possibility for civil discord, but it seems rare. At least in person there is a chance at expressing yourself calmly and less chance for misunderstanding.  Tone is difficult to get across in a comment.

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While the internet is full of vitriol it can provide a safe place for those to gather who would not be able to do so in reality.  This works in spaces that have strong and supportive communities, those that can rally around those that are attacked and maintain strong but fair guidelines. As I recall discussing in EC&I 830, social media allows those who have to remain hidden, a place to exist and thrive. Fear and bigotry may have halted someone from expressing themselves in their personal space. Safe online places provide much needed support and community.

The use of social media to uplift voices and stories, create awareness, and build and strengthen relationships creates a space for organizations, activists, and citizens to demand justice

A Guide To Activism in the Digital Age- Maryland University

These safe places provide the launching point for online and real world events. With social media people can get organized quickly. A rally that once relied on group meetings, a poster campaign, phone lists, etc., can now begin with one post. Word of mouth is a retweet that reaches thousands instead of whoever is in earshot. This global reach is one of the greatest powers that online social media has.

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The responsibility of educators in this field is something I struggle with. I am comfortable discussing how social media can be used in activism and how it has been used. I am still caught up in what we were told in the past, remain neutral. I will do my best to provide both sides of the argument, but I’m not oblivious that my own bias bleeds through. In the past I have chosen “safe” subjects to use social media to promote with my students. There are very few people who get angry at supporting those struck by a natural disaster.

Being a good digital citizen is about so much more than being safe and responsible online.

Dr. Katia Hildebrandt- July 6th, 2015

I do not think I am a good digital citizen yet. I stay silent too often. I see friends post hateful things and stay quiet. I avoid the confrontation because I know the hours of sleep I will lose over their replies. My own mental health can’t handle it. This is the reason I left twitter, reddit, and “snooze” so many people on Facebook. I have started to speak to these people directly, it’s easier to express myself and I have found they are far less defensive when there is not a digital audience to our conversation.

While I have participated in online activism it has been those safe subjects I discussed in class. I did the ice bucket challenge, and despite the backlash, it was not a bandwagon, virtue signalling act for me. My father died from a similar disease and it felt good to do something. I joined my friends Run for the Cure. In fact if you would like you can donate right here.

CIBC Run For the Cure Banner

Like anything online, social media can be beautiful or terrible. It’s a perfect place for activism to exist. The entire point of activism is to shine a light on that part of humanity. My goal is to turn on the light more often. The dark is much more comfortable; perhaps because in the light we are awake.

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putting the ‘active’ in activism

Before this week’s topic of “social media activism” was brought up in class on Monday, I had never sat down and actively considered it. Sure, I have seen (and used) frames that support different causes on Facebook profile pictures, noticed online petitions floating around, and even donated to a few causes here and there, but I guess I just viewed those things as ‘another part of the internet’ without thinking about them from a critical standpoint.

After browsing through some online articles and resources this week, these are my highlights and current thoughts on social media activism:

1 – A Bridge to Real-Life Action

Shelby Brown, the author of this article, outlines her personal journey with activism, describing how her passion for a cause (women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies) began with using a Facebook frame and ended with volunteering weekly at a Planned Parenthood. This personal story of activism highlights the ability for social media activism to act as a bridge, or stepping stone, to real-life action.

Rather than going all-in for a cause right away, social media activism allows for a more gradual journey of activism. People who might be initially interested in an issue can dip their toes in slowly before committing to a more active role.

In my own life, I have experienced a gradual increase in involvement in a cause: Dressember.

One of my Facebook friends has been an active supporter of Dressember for several years now, and I would nonchalantly ‘like’ the posts and read some of the information about the organization. After being a passive observer for a few years, I accepted the invitation my Facebook friend issued online to be more involved by donning a dress one day in December, donating to the cause, and posting about it on my own Facebook to spread the word. I might not be ready to commit to the full month of dressing up, but I became more involved as a direct result of seeing my friend’s Dressember posts on social media.

While social media activism can be a powerful way to reach more people, I believe that the underlying hope is that social media activism will cause tiny ripples that eventually lead to real-life activism as well.

2 – Understand the Root of the Movement

Researching a cause in order to understand its core values and intentions is a key step in social media activism, according to the same article by Shelby Brown. In the barrage of content available on the internet, it is easy to become complacent and share posts without being fully informed. Take the extra steps to ensure you know what you are supporting.

3 – Social Media Can Increase Accessibility

One of the reasons social media activism can be so effective is its ability to be far-reaching. Rather than being pigeonholed into one medium, social media campaigns can be shared and seen by many more people. This provides access to information that some people might not have had otherwise. Both of the articles (below) discuss social media’s ability to increase access to information.

“Why Is Social Media Activism Important?”

“Is Digital Activism Effective?”

4 – Helpful or Performative?

Finally, social media activists need to be aware of the difference between true activism and performative activism. This article provides a clear distinction (screenshot below) between the two:

Shelby Brown explains the difference as actively hearing stories of those who are impacted (activism), versus simply trying to share one’s own opinion (performative). When engaging in social media activism, we need to be aware of our own privilege and focus on creating platforms for silenced voices to be heard, rather than perpetuating the same dominant discourses.

Moving Forward

The next time I see a social justice campaign or think about sharing something, I will be considering it through these social media activism lenses. During my research this week, I came across this lesson plan for introducing a conversation on digital activism with students. I think my responses to the prompts from the lesson (below) sum up my current thoughts on social media activism.

  1. Agree – if used in the right way, social media can increase accessibility and act as a pathway to get people involved IRL
  2. Agree – engaging online can be a less intimidating first-step, but the ultimate goal is getting people to take action outside of social media
  3. Agree – I feel that each generation becomes more and more social-justice-minded because they are connected to diverse people and perspectives from around the world – thanks to technology
  4. Disagree – engaging in social media activism is a real and valid form of activism

What are your thoughts on social media activism?

What do you think about the 4 prompts above? Agree, Disagree, or Undecided?

Until next time,


Student Blogs Week 1 and 2

I was initially concerned with how my class would participate due to the slow submissions. Thankfully by the day after it was due I had most submitted. Having samples online made it easy to discuss what was successful and what they could implement into their own future blogs.

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The first writing prompt was “What are the differences between public schools and faith based schools? ” I reminded students to be respectful, but encouraged honesty. In class we discussed the difference between observations and attacks on other schools. Like any assignment it was a mix of effort, however I had more submissions that showed some genuine effort than usual.

Student’s that were the most successful wrote in an informal style that had some engaging and interesting reflections. Others made lists of differences, which answered the prompt but lacked insight. What has impressed me the most is the amount of self awareness that has been brought up by giving students so much freedom. The following quote is from a student who discussed the typical answers; at public school you have to worry about harram food and activities, at an Islamic school you can be with more like minded people, etc. After this they brought something up that many of my students do not consider until they leave our school.

However, public school students get to experience how they are discriminated in society religious-wise often, meaning that in the future it won’t mind them that much because they grew up with that type of stereotype, but students in Islamic schools don’t get to experience Islamophobia which most likely causes them to adjust with society in a difficult way. For example, if you get stereotypes in a public school often about your religion, you will eventually know how to overcome that problem, but in Islamic schools, all the students are (M)uslims so there is a less chance that you will experience Islamophobia, so when you go out in public it will be unusual and it takes a hard time to adjust.

Student Blog referenced with permission of student and parents.

I was very impressed with how insightful this blog was, showing me how deeply they have thought through the topic. This is the type of response I had hoped for and I was grateful to see it appear in week one. The remaining blogs were largely successful, answering the prompt clearly. A few went for the simple list response, but at the very least everyone wrote a paragraph.

The comments were all short, but nearly everyone showed me that they had actually read the blog. All followed my requirements and provided constructive feedback or made their own connections to what was said. It does seem like my requirement for everyone to comment on different people has been effective. Some have enjoyed the ability to comment on each others work so much they have commented on most blogs. The engagement I have seen with some students that typically struggle has been encouraging.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on

Week Two has been a much slower start. I received far fewer entries on time, which lead to a number of students messaging me that they could not see everyone’s entry. While this is discouraging, it does show me that a number of students are still very engaged in this process.

Next Steps:

Photo by Cosmin Paduraru on
  • I need to have students who are struggling to finish their blog, write it in class so they are done and more likely to type it at home/at school.
  • I need to go over how visual elements can help break up text and make it more appealing.
  • While I have provided time in class with technology, I need to ensure I have enough ipads to allow students to work on their blog during downtime/study hall.
  • I need to have another mini-lesson on writing informally.
  • I think it would be helpful to also go through examples of effective comments.
  • I also need to remind them that part of the goal behind this is to create a positive online environment. While it has gone well so far, I do not want it to slip into the typical online interactions some of them have.

So far this has been successful, although the slow start on week 2 is discouraging. There is an interesting “fame” element I had not considered. Students are enjoying that recognition that the comments are giving them and the fact that I am discussing this project in my masters class has really motivated some. When I asked one student permission to reference their blog another student said “You’re going to be famous!”

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Algorithm on Steroids: A TikTok Story

The closest I have come to using TikTok was during last spring’s class when I used my wife’s account.  I decided to join for the purpose of this post, but made sure to do something I rarely do.  Read the terms of service.  I focused on the privacy portion.  TikTok says the only information they gather is what you provide in your TikTok profile and the information in any profile you use to login.  For example I used my google account (after the first week), my profile only has my age and name. No mention of gathering contacts (unless you link them, which I did not). I did not put on a vpn to get a true sense of what the app would do with my isp address. Initially it leads you to think that they will only gather other information if you give permission, then later on it says browsing history for advertisers. Sneaky.  This was not something I noticed until later (as you will see in my point form reflections).

My screenshot of one of TikTok's terms of service.
My screenshot of TikTok’s terms of service.

As TikTok is a series of short videos I have decided to present my initial findings in point form.

Week 1 (just using app as a guest, not signing in with an account)

  • First few videos are all of a hill on fire in Edmonton.
  • Fires in Alberta.
  • Lots of Indigenous creators.
  • Animal videos.
  • Lots of weird cooking videos.
  • Indigenous content (specific ones on cultural appropriation).
  • Comedic animal videos.
  • Comedic kid videos.
  • Watch one comedy video on hockey and then…
Screenshot of Coach Chippy video.
  • ….Lots of Canadian centred content (heavy Canadian accents)

Week 2

I reread what info they take if you make an account from a third party (nothing about the content you use just profile info).

  • Sign up with google (same email as YouTube)
  • Almost immediately creatures I follow on YouTube shorts start showing up (coincidence?).
  • Still lots of indigenous content (mention of indigenous TikTok).
  • Started following Lewis Capaldi.
  • Turns out the YouTube connection was a coincidence.
  • Animal and kid videos have combined.
Screenshot of Zesty Newz video.
  • Told them not to track contacts and then the first person they recommended to follow was my wife (she does not make videos).
  • Started to follow Hank Green and felt sad
  • My dog is quite sick, so I’ve been up late scrolling through TikTok, feeding the algorithm.
  • Forwarded my first TikTok video
  • I’ve heard of this happening- where did the past half hour go?
  • Following Lewis Capaldi was a mistake (dog video)
  • It knows I’m a teacher.  Getting a stream of teacher related content.…which means the few teacher TikToks I was sent before I downloaded TikTok are floating around somewhere and TikTok has access to the part of my phone. I didn’t give it access to…or it’s kept track of my isp from watching videos before I had the app.
Screenshot of TikTok terms of service. I guess TikTok considers itself a Third-Party advertiser.
  • It is teaching me slang.
  • After my dog died it has become an easy distraction. Far too easy.

Throughout the second week I started interacting more, using hearts forwarding three videos and following a few creators.  TikTok was much better at figuring me out than YouTube.  Even before I started liking and following it got a very quick sense of my politics.  With YouTube I watch one conservative video to try and balance my bias and then that is all I get recommended (no matter how many-“do not recommend” buttons I click). This, along with how much information it seemed to have without me giving permission, was frightening.

At the same time I see the benefits.  I am getting a broader amount of content that is providing useful information.  For example as a CIS white male I have worried about how well I will be able to speak out on anti-lgbtq+ issues.  TikTok has provided me with allies that have added to my vocabulary and done so in a compellingly calm way.  YouTube thinks I am anti-trans because I watched Neil Degrasse Tyson on Joe Rogan.

While TikTok is far more comforting I am worried about how comforting it is to those on the opposite political spectrum.  Is it just one giant confirmation bias?  It feels that way and it is very seductive.  I don’t know how long I will continue using it, but each time I switch back to YouTube I am fed angry content.   TikTok just seems happier. I get fed self-affirming videos, creators that are not just white males, progressive reflections, and dog videos that make me feel sad.

Screenshot of Annakprzy video.

I hope I am able to find my way through the weeds and gain from the benefits while not pulling that comforting blanket of confirmation over my eyes.

trialing BeReal

One of my recent BeReals that I was decently on time for (which was a total fluke – I just happened to be looking at my phone when the notification went off)

I first heard about BeReal during my trip to Mexico over Easter Break, where some of the other members of the tour group told me about it. They were from the UK, and I think it must be a more common social media platform there, whereas I get the sense that it is just catching on in North America. I was instantly interested in BeReal because of its unique design/premise, which favours authenticity and real life moments, rather than the highly-edited and curated feeds one typically sees on other social media platforms.

Being interested in this platform, I told the members of my tour group that I would sign up for a BeReal account when I got back home and follow them on it. They were my only 2 friends on the app, so I soon got tired of the app and my posts dwindled away. I jumped back into this app for this week’s blog prompt.

How BeReal Works:

The app sends you a notification at some point during the day (you don’t know when this will occur), and then you have 2 minutes to post your BeReal for the day. This post is intended to be a snapshot of whatever you are doing at the time the notification goes off; BeReal posts include both a selfie and a picture of wherever you are/what is in front of you at the time. You can react to others’ posts with RealMojis, which are snapshots of your own face showing the different reactions (thumbs up, laughing, etc.). You can also comment on others’ posts, give your BeReal a caption, and view your BeReal memories from previous days. As an incentive to post on time, users are allowed to post additional BeReals if their first is completed within 2 minutes of the notification going off for the day. I don’t remember this being a feature when I first started using BeReal in April – so either it is new, or I totally missed this option!

The Pros:

A view of my past BeReals
  • BeReal is original and goes against the filtered/edited nature of various other social media platforms – I love the idea of being more ‘real’ online and giving others a glimpse into your unpolished, true life
  • it’s easy to set up an account
  • RealMojis is an interesting concept that is unique to BeReal
  • you can easily add contacts you already know right in the app

The Cons:

  • this app encourages your notifications to be on and for you to have your phone with you at all times (which is not my style at all, so this aspect misses the mark for me)
  • there doesn’t seem to be any easily-recognizable home page or place for notifications, which (to me) makes the app feel strange to navigate
  • this app is not common among my friends yet, so there is a lack of people to follow (I reached out to classmates in this course on Twitter to get a few more people on my feed)
  • legal and ethical privacy concerns for posting at work (especially as a teacher)

Other Information:

  • there is a Discovery tab, which is just a feed of random people’s BeReals (not your friends); I am not personally interested in this at all
  • apparently, there is a way to see how many times someone has re-taken their BeReal picture, but I haven’t noticed that anywhere yet (maybe all of my friends are first-snap people?)
  • the app will tell you how late someone was posting their BeReal for the day (the members of my tour group told me that it is always funny to see people who have posted 5 hours late, and then their BeReal shows them doing something cool – it sends the message that they waited to post so they could show something interesting, which is really missing the whole point of BeReal)

Applications for Educational Use:

Nothing immediately came to mind for useful applications of BeReal in the classroom. Because the app is so time-sensitive (and dependent on notifications being enabled), I don’t see how it would work to use in real-time in the classroom. However, a BeReal inspired project (that doesn’t actually use the app itself, but the concept of it) did come to mind for a history/art project. Students could depict an important event in history as a BeReal. This involves students considering what the person would have looked like during the event, and what they would have seen in front of them in that moment. This same concept could also be used for a novel study or literature project, with students depicting book events and characters as BeReals.

Implications for Youth:

For me, BeReal as a platform can have both positive and negative effects on youth. I appreciate that the intentions behind the app are stepping outside the norm of social media and encouraging people to share their real selves. It gives me hope that future generations won’t be bogged down by unrealistic expectations and pressure to be a certain way.

However, perhaps this push to ‘be real’ is a double-edged sword. Do we really want to share every last detail of our lives with the internet? RoxAnne pointed out in her blog post that this could be potentially dangerous if people online know exactly where you are and what you are doing.

In addition, isn’t there a kind of security that comes with having a real-life self and an on online self, and they don’t necessarily have to be one and the same? I, personally, like having distance between my online and offline selves, and I don’t want youth feeling that they have to share everything with everyone. I also believe it is an important social skill for youth to learn what is appropriate to share in different contexts; if we share everything online, then we aren’t practicing these social norms.

Furthermore, I dislike the message BeReal is sending by: a) encouraging its users to constantly be near their phone and listening for a notification, and b) rewarding those who did so. This, to me, is an unhealthy relationship with technology that could be harmful.

In Conclusion:

At the end of the day, I don’t see myself continuing to use BeReal regularly. While I love the concept of authenticity and literally “being real,” the time-sensitive and notification-dependent nature of this app doesn’t appeal to me or work for my personal technology-use boundaries I have in place.

Have you tried BeReal or do you know someone who uses it?
What are you thoughts on this up-and-coming social media platform?

Until next time,


The World of Social Media: A Personal Reflection

small snippet of desktop game minesweeper

As a Cusper, I feel that I had the benefit of growing up in two world. In my early years, social media was particularity non-existent. As a family, we had the very typical early 2000s computer room with a monstrous desktop computer that connected to dial up internet. On this computer was nothing that 5 year old me ever cared about outside of Microsoft Paint and Minesweeper, which I had no idea how to play, I just liked the idea of it. But as the years wore on, it became clear that I was growing up along side and with technology and social media.

My friends and I often call this era of social media the “wild west” – an experience that isn’t just unique to my friend group. When I say social media in this context, I am not talking about Instagram, TikTok, or even Facebook. I am taking about open chat forums and questionable websites. But nevertheless, we survived to see the rise of modern social media.

The first form of social media I remember using was, of course, MSN Messenger. MSN played a significant role in my early childhood, but particularly from the ages of 10-13. I remember these days with mixed emotions. I often joke that I would pay the MSN gods any amount of money to get my old chat logs back, but as I reflect on my actual true experience, I remember is just how ruthless we were. It was in this era of my life that I truly began to understand cyberbullying. MSN was the first time I was able to speak to my friends behind a computer screen and this opened up an uncharted world. While I do look at this era of my life in relative fondness, I do believe that it would be a disservice to not at the minimum acknowledge that damage that undoubtably came from the platform.

person on phone waiting for others to like their social media posts
Social Media and Likes

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I feel social media, as we know it today, really began to take off. It was during my high school years that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and AskFM began to take off. It would again be a lie for me to say that social media, especially during these years, was only positive. I spent far too much time as a teenager worried about what I posted, if I sounded cool enough, and fixate on how many likes I did (or did not) get. In many ways I was consumed by social media and the serotonin it gave my from insist social gratification. At the time, I don’t think I saw an issue with this mentality. As an adult, however, I can very much see the negative impact that this had on myself growing up.

As I got older, however, I have very much seen a shift with my relationship with social media. Now I am the first to admit that I spend FAR too much time on my phone. I have every form of social media that one could possibly have. And, I have a particular proclivity to spend an hour (or multiple) scrolling through Tik Tok.

I, however, am a self proclaimed social media lurker. I rarely post on social media anymore. For example, my last Instagram post was from August of last year and before that I had not posted since August 2019. I do use Twitter and Instagram stories more regularly, but overall I like to take in what I see on social media and leave it at that. I have found that keeping a more private online presence has very much helped myself personally to shed the idea that I had to please everyone.

Professionally, however, I am more open to posting. I have had a Twitter account since the 2010s. During high school I would use Twitter to do whatever – I honestly can’t even wager a guess to what I posted, but I’d imagine it would be some sappy song lyrics and a joke I got on Google. When I started my teaching career, I cleaned up my Twitter and I have been using it semi-regularly to post student projects, school events, and anything related to teaching. In the day to day of teaching it is hard to keep up sometimes, but I do hope that in the future I can work to increase my social media presence.

TikTok has also played a surprising role in my career as an educator. Now, I have never posted on TikTok, but I spent an obscene amount of time scroll through videos upon videos. And in reflection, I have gained a great deal from the platform. I am 100% the person that says “I was doing some research” or “I just saw that…” when discussing global political, current affairs, or classroom pedagogy. In reality, my research was TikTok. I do, however, have to remind myself that not everything I see on the internet is true, but overall, I do honestly feel TikTok has made me a better person – but don’t tell my students that.

Overall, my journey with social media has been long and winding. It has had its up and its downs, but my life right now would be vastly different if social media didn’t exist.

Thanks for reading!

Write a blog post that addresses the following questions and/or statements: Describe your relationship with social media. How has social media affected your personal or professional life in positive and/or negative ways? 

my experiences with social media

As a millenial, I was growing up at the same time that many social media platforms were rising in popularity. Since my adolescent years, I have used (in as chronological an order as I can remember): MSN Messenger, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Discord, TikTok, and (most recently) BeReal.

My experiences with social media have been overwhelmingly positive. In my adolescent and teenage days, I used social media on a personal level to connect virtually with my friends. Fortunately, I never experienced cyberbullying or any other online issues. I would say the most negative experience I had was feeling pressure to measure up to others during a time in my life when I was still figuring out who I was as a person. No particular negative incidents come to mind, though (for which I am grateful for!).

Once I entered university, I began to delve into using social media professionally. I started this blog in my first semester of university, and it has followed me all the way through my undergrad degree, my beginning years as a teacher, and two graduate degrees to follow. It has truly become an authentic time capsule of my journey of ‘learning to teach.’ In university, I also tried out Twitter and LinkedIn as more professional versions of my online identity. This chapter of my life helped me to expand my previously narrow idea of what social media could be used for.

Since starting my career in education (and beginning my true ‘adult life’), I believe I have come to find a comfortable balance in my relationship with social media. Watching the Netflix film “The Social Dilemma” was a game changer for me – if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it! I now enjoy unplugged time where I leave my phone behind when walking my dogs, have push notifications turned off for my social media accounts, and think more critically about the content I am seeing on social media platforms. Taking EC&I 832 with Alec Couros as a previous course in this degree also helped to open my eyes to the realities of social media, algorithms, digital footprints, and media literacy.

All in all, I feel very fortunate to have had such positive social media experiences, from supportive friends who follow my travels religiously on Facebook, to a helpful and welcoming PLN on #saskedchat. As an adult, I am now more cognizant of how social media can be a time suck or harmful to our self esteem, and I can set personalized boundaries so that I can enjoy the pros of social media while, hopefully, avoiding some of the cons (although, that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself getting caught in a TikTok loop every now and again).

How have your social media experiences changed throughout your life?
How have you perceived social media to change since you first started using it?
What boundaries do you set to have a healthy relationship with social media?

Until next time,


Social Media and Me: A Reluctant Journey

I am old enough to have been around for the early years of social media. Before sites like MySpace and Facebook we wandered through chat rooms and early group chats in ICQ. It was very new and we were not ready.

For the first time we could speak to random people throughout the world without the need of ham radios or waiting weeks or months for responses through pen pals.

Photo by Changhee Kim on

For me the novelty wore off quickly and I was lucky enough to avoid some of the dangers from sheer luck (and the speed of dial-up in a small town). MSN Messenger took off in my social circles and for the most part social media was just a series of group chats. The only thing that was close was playing online games like EverQuest where other players would ask A/S/L (age/sex/location).

Years later Facebook emerged, just in time to connect with friends I had lost touch with from university. In my twenties the feed was full of pictures of bars, birthdays, and making your life look better than it was. At the time I was not overly concerned and saw the whole thing as something frivolous. It was an easy way to keep track of people who a few years before would have just become parts of my memory. We no longer said, “I wonder what….is up to,” we knew and they just posted twenty pictures of their vacation.

For a long stretch this was my interaction with social media, interspersed with YouTube and the odd twitter quote I read in an article. When I went back to school to become a teacher, YouTube became a valuable resource; videos simplifying math or science concepts, old Bill Nye clips, and dance or music videos when students needed a stretch. I have a distinct memory of showing an OK Go video to a class I was subbing in to explain Rube Goldberg machines.

OK Go- This Too Shall Pass

As time moved on and politics have become more populist, social media became more toxic for me. Anonymity gave people the same mentality they had in a car when they swore at someone who cut them off. Posts that could be disproved with a little bit of skepticism and knowledge where shut down with shouts of “idiot,” and “sheep.” I gave up trying to have rational discussions and started to hide feeds. COVID and lock downs poured gasoline on the entire internet.

Listening to my students interactions did not help. Thoughts you might share with friends in private are now broadcast to the world. I am forever grateful that the stupid things I said to friends have been left in the past as an embarrassing memory of who I used to be. As the age of those going online continued to drop, those that pray on them have reached out. As a child I remember warnings of who to watch for in the real world, but at least at home I was safe. My students now need lessons on how to be safe from people in the virtual spaces we open in our homes.

Last year I took a step back. I stopped going on Reddit, hid Facebook in a folder on my phone and found my news from “reliable” sites on the right and left political spectrum. Then I took a class called Contemporary Issues in Education Technology. We discussed and debated and I started to see some of the positives again of social media. Those that were isolated due to location or identity had somewhere to reach out. Support groups, organizations, and caring people were there. Imagine that, someone using the internet and social media to help people and not just attack.

I have still taken a step back, only delving deeper for this course. I am still cautious, but I am better prepared to help my students and care for my own interactions on social media. So I’ll dance with the devil, but my mouse is hovering over that close account tab.

Photo by Vojtech Okenka on


Welcome to my journey in introducing social media to my students; or more accurately helping my students use social media safely and effectively. As my students rush towards their teenage years, it becomes more important that they develop these abilities before the tumble into the mistakes that so many of us have fallen victim to.

As the epitome of the cliche’d “life long learner.” I will be joining my students on this adventure as I explore social media as an educator, not just a digital citizen.

Photo by Max Fischer on