Someone I know (let’s call that person Stan) posts something extremely general and a bit vague on Twitter. Someone else that I know (let’s call that person George) points out the glaring problem with said tweet. Both Stan and George have lots of followers. People listen and respect them both for a variety of reasons.
Now is where things really get heated. Apparently each group of followers have very different views about what Stan and George originally meant, and take it upon themselves to BOTH defend their Tweeter and bash the other Tweeter. This creates a divide that has potential to tear the EduTwitter world apart.
Now comes the crazy part. People like me are now writing about this trainwreck. Some are doing this to gain readership. Others are truly trying to make sense of this entire mess. I just want to make sense of this event. I want to learn from it.
I think this highlights a bigger problem with social media in general. That is that we don’t know WHY things get posted. We don’t know the INTENT behind the messages that are posted. For most of us, we interpret the intent through our own experiences. Many people stop there and walk away thinking they understood the message. In some cases, someone feels the need to publicly share their interpretation of a public message.
Again, we generally don’t know the INTENT of the second message either. Now others get involved. Suddenly, Twitter becomes a shouting match between people that now believe they are defending someone. This doesn’t help anyone.
My question is this…what can we learn from this?
I think we (educators in general) need to learn how to defend our own messages. We also need to realize that when we post a public message, we open ourselves up to criticism and support. We also have to learn how to critize a message without attacking the messenger. We also have to recognize that when someone disagrees with a message, that doesn’t mean they are attacking the messenger. We HAVE to learn how to model this behavior.
Our students are watching.