T&L Advisor Guest post — Carl Hooker, Director of Instructional Technology, Eanes Independent School District: I see all sorts of things on social media, especially during election season. Most of these are funny memes or animated gifs making fun of a candidate, a cat, or a person at Walmart. These past couple of weeks, however, I started to receive messages from a variety of people making me aware of a disturbing viral trend….clowns.
This may sound like a pre-Halloween hoax, but it’s no laughing matter. As near as I can tell this phenomenon started in the Carolinas with someone or some people dressing as clowns and trying to lure kids into the woods. This regional incident has quickly escalated with copycats having now been reported in 12 states throughout the country. Some of these were hoaxes while others were copycats, but regardless, it didn’t take long before this trend found its way onto social media and is now threatening schools. Reports in multiple districts in multiple states has led to increased security and in some cases school closings. Here in Texas, many districts and schools were placed on high alert as anonymous individuals posted threatening messages on social media sites that they would attack schools. Real or hoax, it’s a good reminder about how quickly social media with a layer of anonymity can quickly turn into hysteria. This is also a learning opportunity for adults and kids alike to check your sources and credibility of reports that are spread on social media. Let’s just hope at the end, we are laughing at these clowns and not running from them.