In the Twitterverse (just like in some other social media platforms), a hashtag unites people, for better or for worse. So regardless of whether or not you follow a person, by searching a hashtag, you can get the perspective, in 140 characters or less, of anyone in the entire world using that hashtag to post their thoughts.
As I peruse through #PrayForOrlando just now, I am simultaneously heartened and disheartened. Often, a tragedy brings a critical lens on an issue, in this case the senseless murder of people based on discrimination. A hashtag created in response to such a tragedy, can serve as a collective response in the form of mourning, of prayer, of condolences, of reflection. But it can also bring to light further hatred.
So how do we deal with this in school?
Do we, as educators peruse the hashtag with students and have authentic conversations about the discrimination that exists in a real-world situation? Ask how social media can work to comfort and/or further instigate?
Do we contribute our positive remarks to a hashtag to drown out the hatred, without looking together or acknowledging the negative comments?
Or do we avoid it because to bring attention to it may mean discomfort and possible repercussion?
Does what we do depend on whether a student is 13 or 16 or 18? Whether we perceive them to be “mature enough” to handle the conversation?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Warning: the Twitter moment embedded below contains inappropriate language (which is one of the reasons why I started to wonder about this topic).