This weekend I found myself in a twitter tizzy. There was a chat conversation circling around the topic of how the term “connected educator” is defined. One camp insisted that it must involve the use of social media while the other camp argued that being connected may include other forms of communication, not exclusively social media. You can read the bulk of that conversation here.
My immediate reaction was annoyance and frustration, then anger. I definitely identify with the “let’s be more inclusive and drop the exclusionary language” camp and have written as much before. But what got under my skin on this occasion had to do with my perception of who fell into which camps. Older white males whose prominence in edu social media appears to hinge on maintaining very strict definitions as to who may call themselves an equally “connected educator” were clearly arguing their cause. While in the other camp, there were white women and a few white males claiming that the insistence on the use of social media actively diminishes other forms of connection which educators may employ to improve their practice and reach out to colleagues in the field. As far as I could observe there were no participants of color in this particular thread of conversation.
Of course, my perception of the situation has everything to do with the filters I applied: race, gender, social media rank relative to convo participants. As an African-American woman educator who is very active on at least one social media platform, I took objection to what I observed as typical brandishing and assertion of white male privilege to make and affirm the rules of belonging based on their relative standing in the social media edusphere (i.e., 35-55k followers on Twitter). This made me angry. And I don’t enjoy being angry.
So I reached out to a couple of my social media mentors asking them to help me put my anger in perspective. Both were helpful. Rafranz Davis wrote back:
“Don’t ever be afraid to disagree. That’s where great ideas are born.”
So I added my 2 cents, sharing a post I wrote 2 years ago on the same topic and moved on. Before going to bed las night, however, I took another moment to reflect in my journal on what had gone on inside me, above all.
As I began to break it down for myself I also could see that past the righteous indignation about turf claiming on social media, I had my own little ego show going on. A further part of my frustration through the course of my reaction to this conversation had to do with not feeling adequately recognized, as if I had said nothing at all. My ego was bruised. And there’s the kicker: I was in some ways guilty of the very same motives I was negatively assigning to others. I wanted to gain the attention I believed I deserved and since that wasn’t happening I was also beginning to stew.
This is such an interesting aspect now that I’ve put it out there. My righteous indignation over the turf wars remains and I stick to it. At the same time, I realize that in a public forum such as Twitter, other factors may also be at play, whether we are aware of it or not. I feel grateful for the lesson here. Seeing how vulnerable my ego is in this environment is absolutely instructive and provides me insight for appreciating more fully where others may be coming from especially when they are worked up about a topic. Even my “side” of the story turns out to be multifaceted. My challenge going forward will be in allowing others to live and express their multifaceted identities and ideas particularly when they do not align with my own.