#Pointless or #Powerful use of Social Media within Academia Today?

Having given myself the title of ‘Social Media Manager’ in the Swedish language school I was working for this Summer #UISS2017, much to the amusement of the director and many within the school, I have earned myself the reputation of ‘social media man’ which I honestly don’t know what to make of.

I am of the ‘social media generation’ and I witnessed first hand the transition between nothingness and the digital world we live in today and if I stop to think about how much has changed in so little time I find it is almost scary.

There are two ways one can look at this revolution:

  • on the one side, one’s personal privacy is never going to be like it used to be as everything you have said or published on the net can be discovered using an elementary browser search.
  • On the other hand, debates have no limits or borders and things written can be picked up shared, commented on and ‘go viral’,capturing thousands of people around the world. Freedom of speech and openness are key in modern digital debates. Those philosophical debates a few intellectuals would once have had sitting around a table in a ‘Cafe d’Art’ in la Bella Epoque or over a millennium earlier in the public toilets in Roman times,now occur in offices, bedrooms, streets, trains, universities and anywhere an internet connection is available, thanks to online publications, blogs and forums.

Becoming a ‘digital intellectual Cafe’ is the new goal for LostinaCup which started as an exchange student’s blog, and then became a personal website with ‘Social Cultural observations and other random stuff’, to then take a step further now in 2017 and undergo a series of changes that are still taking place beginning with the passage from the .org to .com. Improvements in graphics together with the increasing number of sections available and things you will soon be able to do, make this a real ‘Cafe’. To be fair from the very beginning in February 2013 this has never been a ‘moppy woppy’ platform of narratives on ‘how lovely new friends from all over the world are’ or how ‘OMG, it is so nice to see so much snow and have Fika afterwards with all the cute Swedish pastries…’

Four years of work ‘putting myself out there’ via the blog and social media channels connected to it has not really changed things that much from the long dinner table discussions I used to have with my family while I was growing up. Now the debate extends way beyond the four walls of the dining room of my parents’ house in Sardinia and anyone can take part in it. However the reality is that only my 87 year old grandma, who lives in London, has effectively been included in the discussions to which she often contributes with comments which I really appreciate.

This just goes to show how even if you try as much as you want to create a broad debate over many years, you sometimes still lack the readership and interest from the public. It could be down to uninteresting content, bad communication and distribution or the fact I’m not a academic, journalist or politician who is able to say things with a voice of authority. Who knows? Then again, the web is often quite simple minded and this is reflected by the fact that Justin Bieber and cats playing piano are the biggest sensation on Youtube.

But if the # taught me something,it is that one does not need qualifications or electoral mandates anymore to be able to rule a country as long as they are good at Tweeting. Take Trump as an example, even before being elected admin of @POTUS he had been tweeting and hashtagging away attacking people left, right and centre in a very ‘politically incorrect’ manner or another case:- the former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who was democratically elected as mayor of Florence and after internal political decisions within his party became the leader of a State of over 60 milion inhabitants with his charismatic touch and pungent tweets such as #staisereno (don’t worry), but no electoral mandate from the Italian people.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a hashtag, is a good guy with a hashtag (*).

There is no escaping the fact we live in a digital era and hashtags are changing the way people think and communicate across the world. That little previously unused character on your keyboard has now become a vital connection between my 145 characters to the ones of everybody else who is covering the same topic or has taken pictures of the same location.By connecting people social media gives the user a broader perspective on a topic which is often strongly dictated by able politicians, journalists and mainstream media channels who set the agenda and have the loudest voice.

It is our duty, as students and academics to bring out our nerdy knowledge, observations and thoughts to the table as we are more able than others to connect dots and draw broad cross cultural comparisons so it is our duty not to shy away from controversial debates, but instead tackle them full on. With the use of our previous research, passive and active knowledge and writing skills it is our duty to serve the broader population and, with a respectable voice, put all the people who lie and manipulate the masses via social media back into place. Let us prove them wrong with 145 pungent characters, a little bit of sarcasm every so often and back our tweets with external content such as URL links to longer posts, articles or books without forgetting to also connect to other Tweets with a proficient use of hashtags.

If you too believe it is time to feel in a similar way, share this post and let’s make the hashtags #AnthroTaggers (Anthropological Taggers) and #AcaTag (Academic Taggers) into something viral.

This is my third day of my ten week internship in #AntroUU and I am curious to hear what the professors, admin staff and lecturers think about my call to # within Anthropology and Academia.

 

#WhyNot

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(*) The original quote is from the head of the US National Rifle Association, Wayne Lapierre who used used the same catchphrase in 2012 to justify people carrying guns after yet another school shooting.

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