Social Media and Your (New) Identity

There's been a lot of conversations lately about how one brands themselves through social media. I've enjoyed sitting back and watching how people chat back and forth. As someone who's usually very opinionated, it has been weird for me to just listen. But I've enjoyed listening. I've enjoyed seeing valid points on both points of view. It's made me think, and I like that.

On Twitter, I started in on the conversation by reading Karl's blog on Branding in Education. Since then, #slowchatED has adopted the topic, and many people have weighed in. But for me, it started even before this when Forbes released their 30 Under 30 for Education, and teachers voiced how they were frustrated by the lack of teachers on the list. I got dragged into the conversation and left just thinking that we're just less known, less branded if you will.

And so I think about myself on Twitter. I think about how I'm building this network of people who are really molding my passions in many ways. They give me new opportunities and a larger voice in the education community as a whole. It's fun to share with this community, and I love the recognition it gives me, my class, and my school for our hard work in changing how education does technology. Honestly, I feel pride in it. I'm proud of the work I do. I'm proud of the work my students do. I'm proud of the work we all do. And I also take pride in sharing it.

And then I got hit with this doosey of an article: 5 Questions to Ask Before Posting to Social Media. For the first time, these questions hit "heart issues" for me instead of "head issues." It gets more at the purpose behind sharing the information, rather than just sharing the information it self. Instead of just "Is it kind?", I was challenged to think, "Why am I sharing?". And as a Literature teacher, the why is always more interesting.

And then this morning we had a chapel on social media and how that affects our identity in Christ. Our theme Bible verse for the year is 2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new his here!" We were challenged to think about the identity we share on the internet and how that reflects the God who created our identity. And so my thinking continues.

Honestly, I still don't know what the answer to in "branding" ourselves in education. This is what I do know:

  • Everyone loves to be recognized for the hard work their doing (and we are working hard). However, we can't recognize everyone. For one thing, recognition implies some sort of exclusivity. But, when we see it, we need to say it. We won't see everything on Twitter or in classrooms, but what we see, we need to recognize and encourage. 
  • It's good to share with the right intention. No one likes it when we're pompous. It can't be about us. I need to remind myself over and over again that it's not about me. It's about my students. It's about my community. And most importantly, it's about my God who gave us these gifts. 
  • I need to think before I post. I need to think about why I'm posting and what it is communicating about my identity. Am I being pompous? Am I being whiny? Am I just looking for attention? None of those are good. I need to be posting to give fame to others, not myself. 

So thanks to everyone who's added to the conversation. I'm enjoying listening. Thank you for being authentic. Thank you for rooting for each other. Thank you for being a part of my team.