Friday, July 5, 2013

Heal the World, Make it a Better Place

So my dear friend Rafranz Davis decided to write a blog post... AGAIN! I'm not very sure how or why she decided to write like the wind here lately, but seriously! You really should read her stuff!

That being said, her post Parallels of Digital Literacy and Illiteracy really got me thinking and allowed me to flesh out some thoughts I've recently had. Thank you Rafranz for providing that medium. Below are the thoughts I've been having taken for the most part from my comment on her blog

Just recently I wondered if the power of social media is helping to eracism. It seems that on social media in particular, we read text. With or without ebonics, colloquialisms, and sometimes tone, we just read. We insert our own biases, assumptions, and tone on those words having maybe never met the person f2f. Does this then push down the color, cultural, language barriers we have faced for generations? I think so. Especially in twitter where the limit of a 140 characters is so very short. We concisely share and move on. We read with the voice in our head and make connections based on content and not biases.
Does this change then when a f2f meeting does occur? Yes, I think it does. Case in point. For the short time I was at ISTE, I heard George Couros (@gcouros) speak and I was stunned that it was completely devoid of accent. Reading George’s published words, I now put a voice with it. For other near and dear friends such as Rafranz, Miguel Guhlin (@mguhlin), and Paul Wood (@PaulrWood), I feel like I hear them more than I am actually reading their words. I can feel the candance of their words, their tone, their meaning. This allows the person to be more powerful than the content. A bigoted person could (and maybe sometimes does) choose to end the connection once that f2f has occured. How sad!
Specifically, I should have maybe said that I think social media is helping to curb or discourage racism, especially with the young and influential. Growing up in a very racist area, I have very vivid memories of being told who to associate with and “friend” (long before FB) based on the color of their skin, their religion, or sexual orientation. SM provides the arena for getting to know one’s thoughts, processes, ideas, creativity, and passion without any assumptions based on race, ability, gender, physical handicap, speech impairment, etc.
I have to wonder, does a mute person or one with a severe speaking impediment or accent feel empowered to be able to communicate without being teased or made fun of? That their content is being communicated free of a stumbling block? Does a blind person feel relief when others read their words and not stare at their physical ability? How does a woman or a minority or a Muslim feel to be able to communicate, to share, to interact, to build connections free of any stigma, presumptions, or other biases?
And how do people feel when they make these connections and then meet them f2f? Does it help to eracism? Does it prove to them that people with different attributes can have powerful ideas? Even if they are initially rude or maybe unfollow/unfriend, they at some point see that this PERSON had an idea, a thought, a feeling. For battling the racism and ignorance that sadly still grips our planet, I accept that as a positive step in the right direction.

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