A personal perspective on how social media works for me.
I had a healthy debate about social media the other day. My conversation partner – someone who has a distaste for grinning selfies and show offs. Myself – a fan of the more meaningful side of Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and their bedfellows.
How do you use social media?
Mindless scrolling to switch off at the end of the day? A way to keep connected to friends and family? To keep up to date with the news? For tuition on how to care for your hair type? (that’s definitely me!)
It’s a part of life that’s not going anywhere, let’s face it, so here’s how I recommend you use it if you, like me, are on a journey of anti-racism.
These are the elements that make social media about so much more than selfies and show offs.
- Diversity – it’s the easiest way to see all walks of life on a regular basis. A beautiful and varied community is at your finger tips.
- Representation – it’s also a simple way to find people like you if you’re part of a minority group and don’t often find others like yourself in every day life. If you ever feel that you don’t belong, you can find a place on social media and follow people like you doing great things, overcoming challenges, and just being in the world.
- Guidance – finding bookstagram was like winning the lottery for me! A great example of social media providing guidance and recommendations, in my case, books!
- Keeping current – I rarely read traditional newspapers, I’m too aware of their biases. Do you? Or do you, like me, find out the basics of what’s happening in the world through social media, and go deeper into the stories that you choose to investigate further?
- And keeping in touch – if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know how important my network is to me. Social media is a great way to stay connected, to show my support for them, and to feel their support too.
So how do you use social media as an anti-racist tool? Here are my top tips.
- Follow a range of people – of all ethnicities, backgrounds, points of view (yes, that includes those you strongly disagree with!)
- Learn others’ stories – understand their experiences and take yourself out of your circle.
- Be active in your support – engage with those who are trying to make a difference. Answer their polls. Comment on their questions. Share their posts.
- Exercise your critical thinking muscles – challenge what you see, explore alternative points of view, don’t just take it as read.
- Keep talking – use what you learn to inform conversations. Provide evidence against prejudiced points of view, back up your arguments with the expertise you find online, strike up a conversation about something interesting you’ve read.
In many ways, social media is a way to build the five key anti-racist skills I explained in one of my previous posts, The Big Five. It helps to develop empathy and self awareness; critical thinking; communication skills; self-education and allyship.
Of course, my favourite, is that it gets people talking. But what’s new there?