making peace with social media

How would I describe my relationship with social media? I have mixed feelings about social media. I maintain my distance but appreciate social media’s usefulness. I appreciate the infinite connections to people and ideas but am concerned about social media as a tool for consumerism and commodification. Most certainly my attitude about social media does affect my personal and professional life. Here are my reflections on my current practices in social media and my desire to use social media to enhance my personal and professional life.

I like to read, watch and learn but am not so keen on reciprocal communication and avoid sharing, writing, posting, commenting, creating or blogging. I have disabled most notifications because I do not want to be at the beck and call of social media on my phone.

I follow politics and critical perspectives on Twitter because I care about, and am curious about progressive policy and science-based discussions that are not always available through mainstream media. Like many digitally connected people, I waste considerable time reading and watching videos on social media. Since Covid-19, the climate crisis, and 1000’s of graves found at Indian Residential School sites, I find myself mostly doom -scrolling on Twitter. I realize that this can harm my mental health.

How has social media affected my personal life roles as a mom, grandmother, co-worker, friend, cousin, sister and daughter? Facebook and Instagram have helped me to connect with far flung friends and relatives and remain up to date on their comings and goings, their weddings, funerals, births retirements. Photos and posts of children, pets and nature entertain and elicit positive emotions.

Personally and professionally, I am concerned about shameless marketing through social media. The internet is like a giant shopping mall. We are enticed to buy, buy and buy. Yes the apps may be free but consumerism will cost society dearly when our earth becomes a garbage dump of carbon and plastic.

On the other hand…The internet is like a FANTASTIC shopping mall. I appreciate the convenience of online shopping.

I am also aware that our dependence on digital communication and social media to deliver education has the potential to dehumanize and commodify education. This is a concern.

Social media is a great tool for teachers and students to expand knowledge, skill and communication. When schools shut down face to face instruction in March 2020, networks of social media facilitated continuity of education. Although it has been a challenge for me to shift to teaching (and learning) on line, I am hopeful that #eci831 will strengthen my craft and comfort in appropriately using social media to facilitate stronger connections with students, enhancing my personal and professional life.

10 Comments

  1. Wow, Brenda! You have a gift for writing. As I began reading each sentence, I found myself questioning my worldviews about each and every topic you discussed. Like you, I find that social media can be tiring, controlling, and a black hole of notifications, updates, comments, etc. I too find myself more on the outskirts, but I also really appreciate some aspects of it. I can see the advantages/disadvantages, and the conveniences/inconveniences of it, but I think right now it has been a really useful tool in my teaching and personal life, for learning, getting ideas, etc. I could do without the commenting, messages, etc. though. Sometimes a break is definitely needed.

    Thanks so much for sharing! I truly loved reading your post.

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    1. Hi Kelly. Thanks so much for the compliment about my writing. I am a notorious over- thinker which is not too handy in the fast paced world of commenting and posting. I look forward to reading your blog.
      Brenda Ives

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  2. You are so right! Social media can be really hard on one’s mental health. I find if I am struggling with the content being seen (especially if you read the comments on some news pieces… yikes) then I really wonder how much of a toll social media takes on students’ mental health when their brains and maturity levels are still developing. I find that with social media, and with almost everything, moderation is key – too much can be taxing on mental health, but there is still room for quality interactions (like you mentioned with family and friends). I hope this class opens up a few more doors for me in terms of comfortability and opportunity for students to be educated and enriched in using social media for positive educational purposes.

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  3. I love your term ‘doom scrolling’, Brenda. You are so right! It is so easy to get caught up in all of the negativity that our technological world presents to us. Covid has created such a divide in our society and much of this is due to the power of social media – everyone being able to broadcast their views (which I’m not saying is a bad thing), people attacking others who don’t share their perspectives and beliefs, the ability to present misinformation and misleading statements…My wife and I often comment that the news is always so depressing and negative. Social media can be the same. It is so easy to be sucked into threads that are nothing but negative and disrespectful. We have to be so mindful of this because it does effect our mental health without us even being aware of it.

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  4. Hi Brenda, I really enjoyed reading your post as your experiences differs quite a bit from my own. I love that you pointed out the connections between the internet/social media and consumerism because I never considered that aspect when writing my own post. I am definitely one of the people who will buy things from adds that are targets towards me. It just shows that there are so many layers to the impacts that social media can have on us and that they are not always obvious.

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  5. Brenda, I appreciated reading your blog! I have some similar views on social media and liked your mention of removing notifications from social media accounts. This is such a simple action, but something that can be very liberating and can help to refocus our attention to things that truly matter. I came across this article on Forbes.com last fall and thought it connected nice to the importance of turning off social media notifications. https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyblaschka/2020/09/21/this-is-why-you-need-to-turn-off-social-media-notifications/?sh=6883d1eb6690 The last line of the article really hit the message home for me “ The bottom line is this: turning off social media notifications lets your phone work as a tool for you rather than letting it control you.”

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    1. Thanks for the link to the article James. It does support what I was trying to say- but by ignoring most notifications I now suffer from FOMO .
      Ha Ha. I look forward to reading your blog.
      Brenda

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