What is the new normal?

Over the summer, I started collecting a number of news stories.  I’d find yet another and tuck it away in my Keep account thinking that some day I’d pull them together and write a blog post.  I never did because every time I’d sit down to start the post, I’d read or hear/see something even more outlandish.

There were stories about plagiarism, trolling, shaming, false stories which we now call fake news, slander, and even downright stupidity.  As you can imagine, the list just kept growing.  The election south of the border seemed to encourage even more outlandish behaviour.  

Then, a couple of things really hit me hard.

There were some crimes and alleged crimes that were committed.  The news went immediately to social media to see if they could “profile” whoever was charged or allegedly committed something wrong.  I thought that it was quite sad that someone’s Instagram or Facebook post could be used as news and information.  But it did and you see more of it all the time.  Just turn on your evening news and count the number of times that contributions to news stories are based upon third party social media.

Probably the most timely item is the incident in Chicago where the crime was broadcast live using Facebook.

Now, I had many friends who are trying out this newish feature.  You’ll get a message that so and so is now live.  Maybe it speaks to the type of people that I follow but, if I jump in, I’ll see pictures of their holiday dinner or something else uninteresting.  I assure myself that this will pass and soon we’ll become sophisticated in the use.  We even used the feature at the Bring IT, Together conference to live broadcast some of the sessions for the benefit of those who couldn’t attend.  It worked nicely; the folks being broadcast were asked in advance for permission and the nice thing is that things are saved after the broadcast for those that couldn’t be at the right place at the right time.

If you’re following the news, you know that it’s not just the good stuff that gets saved.

As I do when I’m writing, I’ll have the news on the television to keep me company.  Recently, a news reporter was talking about the Chicago incident and gave the warning that the video to be shown could be disturbing.  It turns out that it had been edited after the fact to blur our some parts.  Then, I stopped in my tracks.  The newscaster apologized for the video and indicated that you could search for it on the internet to see it unedited.  How irresponsible is that?

What happened next floored me.  The news station had an online poll asking if social media services should filter out what they’re broadcasting.  This, right after they had actually used it to report the story!

What’s wrong here?

They next broadcast the current results of their poll.  I think it’s to be discounted because the audience is limited and who knows if you can vote more than once.  I was tempted but that would be giving in.

All of this brought back the collection that I’d been tucking away.  I started to think instead of how there used to be a dividing line between media and social media.  There’s not so much anymore.  Like it or not, this is fast becoming our new normal.  It used to be that we would question everything that we read online.  But what happens when the traditional media uses things that we question as news sources?  The more sensational; the quicker it gets broadcast.

I’ve been helping a friend who is writing a book about social media and we got into an interesting discussion.  She pointed out to me that she knows of school districts that, in this day and age, continue to filter out social media elements to protect students.  

Where will its students learn to become discriminating users and interpreters of content?  I think that we all know the answer.

Instead of having the guidance of an educator or teacher-librarian, who are the role models showing how to use the technology?  It’s scary to think of the results.  The answer that teachers don’t feel confident to address the situation needs to be laid to rest.  Nobody can be expected to know everything.  But we certainly can be the lifelong learner that we want our students to be.  If you’re in the classroom, you certainly know what’s right and what’s wrong.

How does your district support and promote the learning for all in this media?

Are you prepared to help define the “new normal” for yourself and your students?  

Or, will you allow others to do it for you and then wonder why when something ridiculous happens?

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