There’s bats in the belfrey
The windows are jammed
The toilets ain’t healthy
He don’t give a damn
Just chuckles and smiles
Laughs like a madman
Sheriff Fatman – Carter USM
Unless you have been living in a cave without twitter over the past couple of days then it will have been hard to escape the conversation around the toilet habits of our students. Voices from both sides of the spectrum are engaged in making this as an extreme debate as possible, invoking prog v trad arguments like some real-life Yoda and Vader.
But it is far simpler than that and I’ll be the first to admit that I may have drifted to one or other side of the argument as a result.
Social media is affecting us in ways we have yet to fully consider. It is now seen as fully acceptable to hold a purely binary position on any subject. We no longer need nuance or context, just simply the ability to make a yes/no decision based on whatever direction our outrage-meter is swinging that day.
When this happens (and it seems to be more often than not nowadays) it seems that there is a call to arms to all the keyboard warriors up and down the land. We must vehemently defend our positions and are seemingly unwilling to bend for anything. Well it’s time for change.
A couple of years ago there was a series of slow chats on Twitter. A question was posed in the morning that allowed people time to research, read around and form informed opinions. Often what was said prompted some to change or soften their original position with the benefit of more information or reasoned argument. What it did not descend into was polarised diatribe intent on firing arrows into the heart of your ‘opponent’. We need to see a return to this kind of chatter.
Nuance is so important here. Sometimes it is where face to face chat helps; for example lots of things quoted from Northern Rocks were taken out of context and weaponised this week by people who were not there. Speaking face to face we can use body language to gauge nuance, eye contact to gauge sincerity and even tell by tone whether the originator was talking with their tongue firmly in their cheek or not.
Edu-twitter is a wonderful place full of, at times, debate which challenges and improves people’s minds in a way rarely seen before. However with great power comes great responsibility and it seems we are rapidly losing our ability to keep a thought inside our heads until it is fully formed (and I count myself amongst the guilty in this matter)
So here is my pledge. When replying to something I think is contentious I fully intend to write a tweet then save it as a draft. I’ll then reconsider my position based on evidence and reading before pressing send.
Maybe you could do the same…