If you know and love the power of social media, then someone who doesn't get it may have sent you the "Look Up" video below.
Video creator Gary Turk is a privileged white guy who features his privileged circle of buddies using the social media platform YouTube to whine that social media is making them feel lonely.
Boohoo Gary and friends. Could it be you just picked the wrong friends?
You see unlike the physical world where you happen to be grouped by geography that often does not cut through barriers of poverty, race, or religion, social media breaks down those barriers and provides opportunities to connect with others regardless of where you happen to have been born. Innovative educators know that social media gives our children opportunities and experiences never before possible. Young people who can't afford to visit other countries can connect and learn with people around the world. Social media gives teachers like Courtney Woods the opportunity to bring experts into the lives of her students.
Gary ends his video telling viewers to stop watching YouTube, but our students have discovered that they can teach and learn anything they can imagine on the resource that Turk and friends waste their time on. Innovative educators support and empower their students to use social media for social action like social media based and founded groups such as Student Voice are doing.
The problem with Gary Turk, and those like him who share videos like this, is that they simply don't appreciate the vast opportunities and connections afforded to social media savvy students. Perhaps Gary Turk was born with these connections, but not everyone was born into Gary Turk's world. Innovative educators have students who are living in the real world, a world where we recognize that if you want to run for office, run a business, or change how things are run where you live, work, or play then it is necessary to be savvy users of social media.
The Gary Turks of the world don't understand the value of having friends and followers whose minds may have connected even though they have not shared the same physical space. They don't get that you don't need to see someone face-to-face to admire and share ideas.
And really Gary and friends...Is it social media's fault you're disconnected or is technology the scapegoat for how you'd be regardless?
Whatever the answer, the most important thing Gary Turk is missing is this:
We are not connecting to screens. We are connecting to people. We are no longer limited by geography or economic status to make connections and that is a huge shift. Anyone, anywhere can now connect with others who share their passions, talents, and interests.
Those identifying with Gary Turk's video have a lesson to learn. Rather than assuming that the people in their physical lives are doing something disconnected and frivolous, why not talk to them? Find out what they're doing. They may just be sitting next to you on that screen changing minds, changing lives, or even changing the world.
And, that my "friends" (online and physical) is the power of social media.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.