Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 38- What If

Let's get this out of the way:

Yes, I completely picked this topic because of the annoying, shrill, over-the-top, hyperbolic hashtag storm that was directed at Sec of Education Arne Duncan because he posted one tweet that fatefully began with the words, "What if". What followed was a mass of #WhatIf tweets that ranged from good ideas and interesting thoughts to things the Secretary of Education has zero control over. Things his boss has zero control over.

Am I defending Arne Duncan with this topic? No. He doesn't need my defense. I don't think he's the greatest guy but I also don't think he's Lord Business. Can't we please be moderate about this? If you think Arne Duncan is destroying education then you have no sense of history at all. If you think having a teacher as Sec of Ed will magically solve all our problems you also have no sense of history. And if you think sending the guy nominally in charge of education for the United States a billion angry tweets will somehow change something then you might need to reevaluate the power of social media. It's a strong tool, but I'm not sure it's that strong.

"But Doug," you say, "We are spreading our message to people who might not hear it." Sometimes hashtag activism works, when coupled with, you know, actual activism. I love #BlackLivesMatter and #YesAllWomen. These are movements that have a base and an argument and history and need to be spread. #WhatIf quickly became a parody of itself and I, and I consider myself pretty invested in the state of education in the country, quickly tired of seeing it in my feed. Who new was seeing this? What were they learning? That teachers are angry and want change and want Arne Duncan to resign or be fired or resign then thrown on a fire? Something about a meme and a derpy picture of him?

Come on. We can use twitter for good. We can. But we can also abuse it to the point of being ignored thoroughly by the people we are trying to reach. Let's say I was trying to make a point at you. Would you listen better if I reasoned out my thoughts clearly and without too much hyperbole? Or should I and all of my friends shout every kind of scenario we can think of at you for three days? What if at some point we decided, "If he heard us he heard us." What if we left twitter and did other kinds of activism that the majority of the population, who are not on twitter, could see?

And no I don't mean post it on Facebook too.

So what if #WeirdEdgot a little silly tonight? What if we mixed our hyperbole with questions deeper than they sound? What if rather than shouting at the social media aid who normally runs the account of someone too busy to run his own we had an actual conversation? 

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