Openness, freedom of speech, and misinformation – the tweeting twit or the twittered tweet?


OK, this week is about reflecting on the course – my first thought was, has it really been five weeks? Looking back, the first thing that I realized is that no matter how smashed I feel before our group work begins, I’m pumped up and ready to go a few minutes into the conversation.
I don’t know if starting earlier would have the same effect. I mean, I’d be less exhausted, yet, my head would still go through the to-do’s of the day; I’d be keeping an eye on the watch to ensure that the allocated time would not be surpassed. After many years, I’m managing to comply with a set of “focusing” rules to let me be more present – mindful of my here and now. These entail: after shutting off the computer on Friday afternoon, I’m not turning it on until Monday morning; checking emails only at specific times; keeping strict control of my time online, taking breaks in between (pomodoros), so having the ONL meetings after the working time is over, both mommy duty and my job as a researcher, it feels like a cooldown of sorts. No work rules apply.

Through this course I’m again going social online, and it’s is somehow creating a bit of a shock in my system. I mean, on the one had one can argue that the content and the quality of the interaction make the difference, in principle, the mechanics of social media are the same… (time spent scrolling facebook status vs time spent scrolling reflections?, time spent watching the course’s videos vs time spent watching random youtube videos?)

Sue Beckingham’s presentation about social media’s role as a learning support system is pretty ingrained in my brain.

After consciously uncoupling from social media over two years ago, and not missing it at all, I am aware that it is important to know how it works, especially now that my daughter will start elementary school and apps, tablets, and online communities are part of the school’s life whether I like it or not.

Anyway, when reflecting on the happenings of the last weeks, the conversations about openness, trust, playgrounds, and the tools that we use or will be using for education … my brain took a strange path. So what else has happened lately that can change the world of online interactions?

I must confess that I enjoy the odd wordplay here and there, so when Elon Musk called himself “commander in twit,” I giggled – what a witty way to not so politely insult the people of the company he (forcefully?) acquired! And walking inside the building carrying a sink?… hilarious!!
Or?
… wait, is it a metaphor for what he intends to do with the company like… make it sink? Take it down the drain?

His claims of restituting freedom of speech by posting a conspiracy theory in less than two days as the company owner are a very bitter taste of what is likely to come…
I can’t help wondering to what extent Twitter will continue to be considered an educational tool. We must be aware that the Twitter we knew is bound to change, and the rules and boundaries are still very blurred.

When in 2013 the word “tweet” featured in the Oxford dictionary, reflecting the increasing influence of the 140-character-long communications platform online; Forbes writer Ewan Spence noted, “no matter what happens to the social network and messaging service over the next few years, there will forever be a piece of paper that explains what a tweet is for” (Spence, 2013).

Indeed, the question now is how to discern which tweets are from and for twits and which twits are tweeting to steer clear from them. And while this doesn’t mean that pre-Musk Twitter was free of content of dubious origin and intention, now that the company is owned by one person advocating for “freedom of speech” as a synonym for “anything goes,” I can’t help wondering, what is unruled “freedom” if not chaos?

This brave new open, online world calls for educators to be even more critical about the tools we use for our online interactions, starting with what messages we convey beyond what is posted. The platforms we use for our digital lives also tell different stories, and these contexts also matter.

 

References

Beckingam, S. (n.d.) The role of social media as a learning support system. Avaialble at – https://project-based-learning-toolkit.com/reflection-toolkit/

Spencer, E. (2013) Tweet Becomes An ‘Official Word’ In Latest Oxford English Dictionary Update. Available at – https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2013/06/18/tweet-becomes-an-official-word-in-latest-oxford-english-dictionary-update/


2 responses to “Openness, freedom of speech, and misinformation – the tweeting twit or the twittered tweet?”

  1. Hi Ginnie!
    I so agree with you on Twitter. I haven’t been participating in the tweet chats so far, partly because I don’t have a Twitter account, and partly because I don’t want to have one… And even though company ownership does not necessarily change the how and the content of the discussions in this course I still don’t feel comfortable in that space. As you say, it will probably become even more difficult to discern between tweet and twat and this will only make the discussions even less democratic.

    I’m of the opinion that most, if not all, of our actions are political – they all come from a specific position of power/privilege. In the context of this course, I think that using twitter sends a political message that is not in line with a mission of being aligned with equality and openness. Maybe there are other possibilities to run the equivalent of chat on a different platform? Not that it’s up to you or us, just as a reflection.

    • Absolutely! and how we choose to apply our position of power / privilege, makes a difference on how our messages are understood – and, in many cases, acted upon.
      Considering that Musk is often portrayed as the definition of “success” and he’s a figure millions of people look up to, I can’t help thinking about ways in which we can create new narratives of what being successful is about, help children to develop their critical thinking skills, and, in general present his opinion for what it is: someone’s opinion, which is as valid as anyone else’s.
      Sometimes, it’s interesting to be a bystander, observe how things go – yet, it is also important to remain aware of what is going on, and yes, reflect about the implications that these unfolding happenings may mean for education, politics and the ways our societies are being shaped.

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