Facebook and Twitter have made my life easier in many ways. Yes, I reap the benefits of social media. I keep in touch with friends and family. I keep up on things I don’t have the time to actually sit through. I share pictures and stories. There is one thing that I interesting about social media and controversy: it makes the debate, discussion and even trash talk instant.
In the past week alone we have had the debate over the President’s healthcare speech, Rep.Wilson’s outburst, Serena Williams’ meltdown (see below), Kanye West deciding it was a good idea to interrupt Taylor Swift on MTV’s VMAs (see parody at the end of this post), and now President Obama calls Kanye a “jackass”. I didn’t witness any of these (yes I know I really should have watched the healthcare speech, but Wednesdays are generally my only “night off” and even then I had to work until 8). I haven’t learned about them in the papers or the television. I have watched the debates go down in my Twitter Stream and on Facebook.
In a way I like having this level of observation. I enjoy seeing both sides of the issue. I like seeing my friends speak their minds even if I do not agree with them. It is exposing me to viewpoints I may have never considered. However, I do have one fear: that this immediate feedback may become the only source of information for some people.
Yes it is only natural that people will use the internet to express their feelings. With social media anyone can do this, and anyone can respond. It is a great way to get insight, but should it be a person’s main mode of gaining information. Generally, if I see something that piques my interest I research it a little before I make my own opinion. I have that level of discernment. I’m not going to just take a random person’s opinion as gospel. I know other people do, and that is what worries me. Are we instilling the younger generation with these skills? I know I teach my students how to determine the validity of an internet source, but is that being done through out the educational system? In a society that tends to come up short in actual media literacy, could we be facing more issues in the future?
I recently read that corporate America makes the mistake of not thinking the younger generations are savvy enough to evaluate an internet source. I’m not totally convinced of this. As an educator who has taught students in this “younger” demographic, I see some evidence that speaks to the contrary. These are skills I have to teach to my 19 year old students and 49 year olds alike.
The immediate access to events and ideas, even those you did not witness, is wonderful. My question is how are we educating ourselves and our youth to understand and interpret this?
Oh, and one last thing, just for kicks:
- Why Are People Anti-Twitter?
- Twitter asks, What are YOU Doing?
- How Twitter Has Helped My Writing
- Graduating from MySpace to Twitter
- Facebook Status Updates: It’s Complicated
© 2009, Jenni Hammitt. All rights reserved.