Why You Should NOT Quit Facebook or Twitter

Powerful tools can be used, by definition, in BIG ways. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, are globe spanning technological marvels. Unfortunately, these platforms have been used maliciously and abusively in recent years to radicalize politics, fuel genocide, and fracture cultural bonds in communities worldwide. At the same time, however, these powerful platforms have been used to positively connect people, empower organizations, and democratize free expression around our planet more than any previous technological invention. Without question, social media platforms (including Facebook and Twitter) need to dramatically and quickly improve their capabilities and policies to both identify “bad actors” and limit the harmful damage they can do online around the world. In the midst of this needed “technology correction,” however, most of us as netizens should NOT rashly throw in the digital towel and choose to quit using either of these platforms. Here are a few reasons why you should NOT quit using Facebook or Twitter right now.

Everyone is not a troll target

It’s both sad and upsetting to read frequent accounts of how Internet trolls harass, persecute, and intentionally sow discord online. Bullying is never pretty, but it’s sadly been a feature of human behavior forever. Anonymity paired with the long-tail collaborative potential of social media platforms (think 4chan) has and continues to produce ugliness and digital darkness we’re often better served to not even discuss and study, much less personally experience. It’s true that anyone sharing publicly online today is a mouse click (or touchscreen tap) away from potential public ridicule, unwanted online fame, and merciless persecution.

That said, however, most users online are NOT the subjects of Internet troll ire. We definitely need to be careful what we post and share, but we should not have our freedom to share and express our thoughts chilled or outright censored by the bad actions of a relatively small group of outlier net users. Agreeing to being pushed off the interactive Internet by trolls is tantamount to letting a single playground bully prevent you as a kid from ever going onto the playground again. It’s simply not right, and to do so would be a harmful overreaction.

I continue to listen with empathy and interest to podcasters and thinkers I respect, like Leo Laporte, who have quit Twitter with enthusiasm and never looked back. If you’re a mainstream media celebrity or Internet famous, the spammy or abusive drivel to which you’re subjected on a social media platform may well outweigh the positive benefits it can offer you to connect and learn from others.

The fact is, however, most of us (thankfully) are not media celebrities or Internet famosos. Most of us, if we’re generally careful of the content we share and the hashtags we use, thankfully have not been and will not become the targets of Internet trolls. Yes, the Internet can be a dangerous place. So can our local mall parking lot. The existence of danger and the reality of bad actors should not convince any of us to completely forgo travel outside our homes (or online) and participation in outside conversations with others.

Group Action, Not Individual Action, Will Change Corporate Behavior

I heartily agree with those advocating for governmental regulation of Facebook. I want to support, both ideologically and financially, groups which are pushing for regulation and reform of Facebook and its dismal track record when it comes to policing offensive and harmful content as well as supporting user privacy rights.

We need to recognize, however, that individual actions against any corporation like Facebook are unlikely to change policies or behavior. Group action is the only outside input to which Facebook will listen, because group actions can drive legislative change, regulation, and therefore profits.

We need grassroots movements to support user privacy, and we also need smarter elected officials at both the federal and state levels who better understand technology platforms. Coordinated, group action against Facebook specifically is needed. Individual, uncoordinated decisions to quit the platform are not going to change the larger social media narrative in our society, and that is something which MUST change soon.

Frictionless Idea Sharing

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have not made idea sharing entirely frictionless, but they have definitely made it MUCH easier than it was in the “early days” of the interactive web / web 2.0. As someone who’s been blogging for 15 years (since 2003) and podcasting for 13 years, I have a relatively long perspective on this topic. I know the number of young people using Facebook is declining, but the number of adults using the platform is staggering and can be life-changing. From a very personal standpoint, I’ve been blown away in the past month by the way Facebook has allowed our family to connect with others after the death of my mother-in-law right before Christmas. I’ve also been deeply moved by the support and responses of family and friends as our family has been going through some tough times this month. Much of that support came via Facebook.

There is no way our family would have made these connections and received this level of support, which has truly made a significant psychological difference in our lives, without Facebook. As a follower of Jesus and believer in God, I also believe in the power of prayer. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I don’t think I would have ever imagined an interconnected world like the one in which we live today, where family and friends both near and far are able to pray for me and my family… and reach out with loving words of support… via phones in their pockets or computers at home and at work. These uses of Facebook have been and are for me, transformatively powerful and literally life changing. I don’t think most of us should give up the incredible connecting power with family and friends which Facebook offers today, thanks to the network effects which have pushed so many of us to be connected via the platform.

On a professional level as a teacher and educator, I cannot overstate how transformatively powerful Twitter has been and continues to be for me. (I’m @wfryer, BTW.) No other technology has permitted me to “hang out with the minds” and share ideas with so many smart and passionate educators as Twitter. The 100+ folks on my “educational Yodas” Twitter list alone generate so many good ideas on a daily basis, that I could subscribe to them with Flipboard and have more “fuel” for my professional learning than I have time in the day to consume and reflect on.

Asking me to delete my accounts from Facebook and/or Twitter today would be like asking a modern farmer to give up mechanized agriculture. It would be like asking an author to not only give up word processors, but also all forms of keyboarding and revert back to a pen, ink, and a scroll. The very idea is preposterous. I’m not giving up the most powerful communication, learning, and collaboration tools in human history, and most likely, neither should you.

Critical Mass is Infrequently Achieved

I’ve seen the 2010 movie “The Social Network,” I’ve watched the recent two-part PBS Frontline Special on Facebook, and no, I’m not a big fan of Mark Zuckerburg. Yes, Zuckerburg is a smart person, but he’s also a CEO who has repeatedly made huge mistakes. Facebook’s shareholders as well as the citizens of our nation should insist that he step down and make space for more capable as well as moral leadership at the helm of his company.

The growth of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and other large technology companies today is attributable to network effects, among other factors. Facebook specifically has reached an incredible “critical mass” of users. Why do you need to be on Facebook today? One clear reason is that it’s likely a majority of your older family members are on Facebook, and it’s a social platform without parallel today to stay connected and interact with people you care about. This kind of critical mass is difficult to create, and very challenging to replicate. The conditions which led to the rise of Facebook are not going to recur in exactly the same way, as the World Wide Web and the devices we use to access it matured in speed and capabilities. In a world characterized by fractured news sources and information authorities, Facebook is a unifying platform which brings us together and lets us interact in powerful ways we’ve never been able to experience as a human race on planet earth. This is a big deal, and it’s not something we should discard or reject rashly.

Bet on Innovation, Creativity, and Freedom

As I’ve already stated, I’m a firm believer in our need for “a technology correction” which includes external, governmental regulation of Facebook as well as grassroots efforts to champion personal privacy rights. I’m both a careful observer as well as thoughtful critic of our emergent culture of “surveillance capitalism.” This economic model has given us “free” access to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but most of us remain relatively ignorant of the personal as well as collective externalities which are the costs that pay these bills. We are sacrificing personal data privacy at the altar of free digital social interaction, and most of us don’t realize the debilitating price we are collectively paying. I encourage you to watch my 2016 TEDx talk, “Digital Citizenship in the Surveillance State,” for a deeper dive into some of my concerns about these issues.

Acknowledging those important concerns, however, I still find myself betting on innovation, creativity, and freedom. Current events in social media have been and continue to be very challenging for an optimist and idealist like myself. Technology evangelists have misled us in the past and in some cases, encouraged others to hold naively destructive perspectives on technology generally. Since at least 2000, I’ve encouraged others to “Remember the Luddites” and consider how lessons from that era of industrialization can apply to our modern digital world. (I do NOT consider myself, btw – a “technology evangelist.” I’m an evangelist for transformative learning, interactive engagement and effective communication. Digital tools can and should have a significant place in our toolboxes as learners.)

I encourage you, also, to bet on innovation, creativity, and freedom. This is one of the reasons I’m a teacher and an educator! Like my wife (@sfryer), I’m passionate about helping students not only learn to code, but also learn to wield digital tools with kindness, respect, and motivation to make the world a brighter rather than a darker place. I’m a champion for digital citizenship. I believe we, along with our students, can and will “invent the future.” The status quo is not ours to accept, it’s ours to iterate upon, improve, and shape together into a better tomorrow.

Don’t quit Facebook or Twitter. The collaborative tools at our fingertips are too powerful to forgo, and we’ve got far too many problems to solve together in the years ahead to give up our most powerful tools now.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Podcast463: Reflections on The Florida Project Movie

Welcome to Episode 463 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features an interview with Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) about the 2017 movie, “The Florida Project” (@floridaproject). The IMDB description of the movie is, “Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.” The Florida Project raises a host of important issues facing every community, including poverty, homelessness, social services, education and schools, non-profit and church outreach programs, and more. As a lifelong educator with extensive experiences working with families in poverty through church ministry, as well as educational and social services for homeless children and families in Oklahoma City, Shelly Fryer has unique and important perspectives on the issues and needs highlighted in “The Florida Project.” Check out the podcast shownotes for links to referenced books, resources, organizations and websites mentioned in the show. Please reach out to Shelly or Wes with feedback and additional resources or ideas this movie or this podcast interview encourages you to share.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) – Blog and Classroom website
  3. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – Blog
  4. The Florida Project Official website (@floridaproject)
  5. The Florida Project on IMDB
  6. Podcasting and the Slow Democracy Movement (@lessig)
  7. Building Relationships with Students (Shelly Fryer, March 2017)
  8. Positive Tomorrows in Oklahoma City (@ptokc)
  9. Project 66 Food and Resource Center in Edmond, Oklahoma (@p66ok)
  10. [VIDEO] Rolling Green Outreach Ministry (3 min, 30 sec)
  11. First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma (@fpcedmond)
  12. The Curbside Chronicle in Oklahoma City (@CurbsideOKC)
  13. Eric Jensen’s Books – “Poor Students, Richer Teaching,” “Teaching With Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It” and more (@ericjensenbrain)
  14. Rep. Katie Porter on how capitalism is failing by Ezra Klein (@ezraklein)
  15. Oklahoma Education Needs / Donations on Facebook (Closed Group)
  16. This podcast was recorded on an iPad using Ferrite Recording Studio and normalized / post-produced with Auphonic (@auphonic) and Audacity

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Guidelines for Digital Sharing

The predominant technologies of a culture change literacy. When our society was primarily a print reading culture, reading and writing texts were appropriately the main activities of students in schools working on developing literacy skills. As our society has become increasingly dominated by multimedia, the imperative grows stronger to formally change the predominant literacy development activities in our classrooms. Today, students should be regularly communicating both inside and outside the classroom with multimedia. Teachers need to be fluent multimedia communicators as well, both in personal and professional learning contexts. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when sharing multimedia formally in school contexts or informally for personal communication and learning.

Include Related Images

As a general rule, share a related image alongside text whenever possible. Whether sharing a blog post, a slideshow, an eBook, or another multimedia product, images draw and focus the attention of your audience to your topic and message. The idiom “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. Images can convey complex ideas rapidly. Our human eyes are able to ingest visual information more efficiently than text, and our attention is more readily captured by visual media. By including related images when possible with text, we can practice and refine a basic skill of multimedia communication, as well as increase the chances our message will be received and processed by members of the audience we want to influence.

Minimize Headline Text

A good newspaper or magazine article always begins with a catchy as well as descriptive headline. Similarly, effective multimedia communicators are intentional as well as judicious with their use of leading text. Infopics should aways be textually concise. A lengthy text reference in an infopic is unlikely to be read fully, and therefore detracts rather than enhances communicative value. Blog post titles should generally conform to the same guidelines journalists use when creating good article headlines. The iterative process of crafting effective and appropriate headlines for multimedia messages requires higher order thinking and consideration of a variety of complex factors. This process has inherent value for digital literacy and multimedia literacy, or as we have previously noted, simply “literacy” as it is being redefined in our increasingly digital society.

Legally Utilize and Remix Images

Multimedia literacy and communication normalizes conversations about copyright, fair use, and intellectual property respect. Media communicators should understand the legal differences between using “homegrown” (personally created) images and those found online via a search engine query. They should also understand what it means for media to be in the public domain, to be shared under a Creative Commons license, or to be legally remixed under “fair use guidelines” of copyright law. Unfortunately, many of these concepts remain foreign to students and teachers in classrooms where literacy development remains stuck in predominantly text-only formats.

Two of my favorite sources for finding and appropriating images I can legally remix and reuse in media communication messages are Unsplash.com and attribution-only Creative Commons licensed images shared on Flickr. As I’ve done with embedded images in this blog post, I use ImageCodr.org to quickly create attribution linked embed code. Images shared on Unsplash do not legally require any type of attribution, although including it is always a welcome courtesy. Whether you use these websites or others, developing an understanding of copyright, fair use, and intellectual property through the regular creation and sharing of images is an essential part of media literacy.

Respect Privacy and Image Sharing Permission

Digital Citizenship encompasses many things, including the importance of respecting others’ privacy and power to grant or deny permission to share a photograph of themselves online. The proliferation of smartphone cameras, along with text messaging capabilities and social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, have made photo sharing an almost frictionless activity for many teens today. Many parents (or even grandparents) may not think twice before sharing a photo of family members on Facebook, but in all these cases, permission from individuals in the photos should be solicited and respected. The “age of photographic sharing consent” would be a great topic to bring up with students in your classroom or family members at home to discuss.

At what age should a child be allowed to decide whether or not their photograph can be shared by someone else online?

Provide Hyperlink Attribution

Hyperlinked writing is often a hallmark of effective online communication. Students, teachers, and other multimedia communicators should practice hyperlinked writing as an essential part of interactive writing.

Whenever possible, include a hyperlink to a photographer’s photo page or an author’s source material when utilizing media created by someone else or quoting others. This is one of the ways interactive writing should include a “twenty-first century bibliography or works cited page.” In contrast to an old-school / analog bibliography, from which a reader cannot readily access and view original cited source material, hyperlinked writing can provide directly clickable (or “tappable”) links. Hyperlinked attribution can and should not only be provided in formal essays and articles, but also in shorter forms of multimedia textual communication. This includes blog posts and social media shares, like Twitter posts.

Provide Twitter ID Attribution

Everyone does not use Twitter today, and it’s unlikely any social media platform will ever be utilized by one hundred percent of any society. Twitter is, however, used by a large number of journalists, authors, and an increasing number of academics. Twitter provides an exceptionally powerful and useful way to share different kinds of attribution today. These include:

  • authorship attribution (by @username)
  • via attribution (when you learned about something from a specific individual or organization: via @username)
  • “shout outs” (sometimes abbreviated as “s/o”)

Use these forms of Twitter attribution when you can!

Maintain Digital Sharing Channels

The advent of social media channels has led to a precipitous decline in interaction via blogs and blog comments, relative to the “early years” of web 2.0 / the interactive web in the early 2000s. From an intellectual property standpoint, it’s important to remember that the “terms of service” for different media sharing platforms may require users to cede some rights to ideas and content, when its shared on a platform owned by someone else. In addition, the growing number of apps and websites in the “web 2.0 graveyard” continues to grow.

It’s valuable and important, therefore, to consider creating and maintaining your own website(s) for sharing ideas as well as archiving your own thinking in a hyperlink accessible medium. Consider creating and maintaining, if you don’t already, different “channels” for digitally sharing your ideas. Then “plant your flag” online by collecting these links on a website which identifies you by name. I’ve used the website About.me (about.me/wfryer) in this way as an example.

I hope these suggestions for guidelines on digital sharing are helpful to you! If so, please let me know by reaching out on Twitter (@wfryer), with a comment below, or by filling out my electronic contact form.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?