Social media: distraction or education?

Being overwhelmed by the amount of useless information that I was bombarded with and the unnecessary details shared about personal lives, I abandoned the realm of social media. Despite recognizing the trend to introduce social media as tools for education, I always looked at them with a degree of suspicion. With the development of social media, a new culture and language have come into existence. The current social media culture provides the space and opportunity for sharing for everyone with the price of eliminating the concern for credibility. The diverse but shallow nature of the content shared through social media makes it more an addictive and distractive place for entertainment rather than a place where meaningful connections and communities are formed for learning. Also, the constant exposure to the stream of relevant and irrelevant, reliable and untrustworthy information keeps us from the quiet and reflective time which is the birthplace of ideas and inspiration. Given the current dominant culture of social media, and the well-known quote from McCluhan: “the medium is the message”, the preceding step prior to introducing these media as educational tools should be to reform the manifested culture.

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Social media: distraction or education?

  1. Jyotsana

    You bring up a good point for sure. As a new researcher I am always told to “check your sources” and the credibility of the information provided and being disseminated. I think that as educators using a tool for teaching and learning, we do get to set it up as a learning tool – whether that includes blogs or Twitter. I will say that have some basic guidelines is only helpful in establishing the norms of how the medium will be utilized. If not for our guidance as the new generation of educators, there is no way the upcoming generations get to learn the process of critical thinking and analysis.

  2. hlee28

    I agree to the response above. Everything is changing at very fast speed, in unpredictable ways. I believe that we should never ignore new platforms before trying to utilize it. I think the point you mentioned about its credibility is the crucial question needs to be solved, ideally, before we use those platforms as a tool for education. We all learn by experience, and I hope we get better results in the process.

  3. erinleighvt

    I agree as well – credibility is a major concern. However, I think that things like Facebook tend to be more of a distraction than specific blogs people follow by someone they are interested in. Facebook, for example, shows you posts from countless people about primarily mundane topics – I would not consider Facebook an educational outlet, but I do see many blogs as such.

  4. Shaun Respess

    Your concerns about social media resonate with many of us, I believe. I think a solution for mediating between its potential and its distractions lies in the same approach that we use for many other enjoyable activities: moderation. For a more detailed explanation, I would highly recommend reading or viewing Simon Sinek’s books and presentations on the subject of dopamine in technology usage. He is able to make some perplexing but fair critical comparisons to the behavior of drug and alcohol addicts. You, myself, and many others would greatly desire the information found on such networks to be more reliable and meaningful. However, the medium (excellent use of McLuhan by the way) does not appear to prioritize these interests. It is a medium which gains its prowess from rapid stimulation of our senses, firing information at warp speed as we consume at an alarming rate. The quality of our consumption is not the concern, its our quantity. Hence my comments on moderation. Keeping this in mind, I can see opportunities in education which may utilize social media effectively. For others, I am not so sure.

  5. I too am suspicious of social media–I have stopped using Facebook recently. I really worry about the collection of data about me and others–like being able to identify me by collecting data on my face, etc. Creepy. Although, at the same time, I think that if we are to critique social media, we need to know it. Can we know it without getting involved in it?

    • I’m going to say that criticizing something you don’t understand isn’t the best strategy. But I’ve also been on a Facebook diet this year (for all the reasons noted above). I think it’s important to not lump all of social media together, though. Just because I’ve retreated from some arenas doesn’t mean I’m still productively engaged in others.

  6. Maryam Yuhas

    I agree social media can have a lot of downfalls however I also feel that its (certain forms) a great way to share knowledge and collaborate for instance with those that don’t have access to monetary journals, or those that could really benefit from the information (community/lay audience/healthcare workers etc.) but otherwise would never come across the information.

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