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Unfollowing Idiots

Posted on January 26, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Facebook, Masters, online safety, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning |

Ok, I apologize for using the term idiots. I guess I just need a catchy title that will grab attention and then we can start dealing with the issue at hand- what to do with those people on Facebook who annoy the crap out of you because of what they post!

 

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(No he doesn’t have an earring, it’s the lights behind him haha)

Meet Jon. Jon is my husband. Jon does not struggle with being a people pleaser, and he rarely cares about other’s approval. In fact, he frequently unfriends/unfollows people on his Facebook because he doesn’t like what they share/post. He doesn’t worry about his friend count, and if he hasn’t spoken to you for a while and you aren’t really friends, he will probably delete you.  It’s just the harsh reality of being a “Jon acquaintance” I guess.

While Jon is a little extreme in his Facebook decisions, I do remember having a conversation with some anti-oppressive educators about this very thing.  The advice we had been given in this anti-oppressive education class was that maybe it was time to ally with the oppressed by cutting out “friends” who would speak racist, sexist, classist things… online or face to face. This seemed like a good idea at the time as it was a small way to step out in activism. It was a way we could take a stand, put our foot down and say enough is enough!

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“Stop” photo credit: Brett Davis via Flickr

Well, I never did end up deleting anyone off of my Facebook, but there are a few people who have gotten close. The interesting thing about my life is that I am proud to say I have a VERY varied friend pool. I have anyone and everyone from the extreme left, to the extreme right, and many in between.  This was evident during Trump’s election. Even despite the algorithms Facebook sets up for you to show you what it thinks you want to see, I was blasted with both sides of the Trump debate.

Fast forward to last night where I saw an article shared that was blatant fear mongering.  Thank God someone called this person out for it as I was so close to just deleting the person. I went to bed and thought about if I should delete this person or not. I want to. I’ve wanted to for a few months now, but I couldn’t help but think of the echo chamber idea.

What’s an echo chamber you ask? Well Wired says an echo chamber is destroying democracy. Independent UK says social media echo chambers gifted Trump the presidency and the NY Times say that through echo chambers, most people are more likely to trust their social group than the news media. An echo chamber is basically surrounding yourself with people who amplify and reinforce your own ideas and beliefs.

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“Freed” photo credit: new alluminati via Flickr

I thought about what deleting this person off of Facebook would mean.  Sure, it would mean that I wouldn’t have to see some of their ridiculous posts anymore, but it would also mean that they wouldn’t be able to see any of mine. It would be limiting this person’s access to articles and ideas that are different than theirs.  I am lucky in that I have people from church, work, University, camp, friends, family members, among others who I dialogue with on Facebook. From what I know about this person, they are fairly isolated in their sphere of influence. Maybe I am one of the only people that will share something that challenges their thinking.

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“Critical thinking: Why our students need it” photo credit: open source.com via Flickr

Well, I could take a page out of Jon’s book and just unfollow them.  But all day I have been thinking about how that limits my own critical thinking. I clicked on the article this person posted yesterday.  I read through it and noticed there weren’t any references or any real facts. I was taking a critical look at this piece of writing and coming to my own conclusions. And truly, I am thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful that I have been taught critical thinking skills so that I can question something being put out there as truth. I believe this is an extremely valuable skill, especially for students, and we as teachers need to take this into consideration as we grant our students full access to the web.

So do you want to know what I did? I have decided to keep following this person. Endurance Marketing suggests 5 ways to eliminate your echo chamber and one of them is by continuing to follow people you’re not exactly friends with.  Another take away I got from their article is to get offline. How true is that! What are the chances people are going to get upset and storm out mid conversation when someone else says something they don’t agree with? The chances are slim.  People are much more likely to engage and hear another point of view when you are conversing face to face. They also suggest that being aware is the first step.

Are you aware of your bias? Am I aware of mine? Are you conscious of your social media echo chamber? Will you think twice before unfollowing the “idiot,” and will you think twice before only clicking on things you agree with.

Comment below with your thoughts! Are you guilty of living in an echo chamber?

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