Social media as radical resistance

Yesterday I had the privilege to catch up with a former student. It has been 8 months since graduation, and many graduates are gearing themselves up for Masters and Ph.D applications. I don’t see my role as ending upon graduation and I am happy to ‘talk shop’ and catch up.

I see teaching as a two-way relationship, I have never learned so much as the times I have been teaching. Whether it’s a lecture, a seminar, an assessment one-on-one, the learning process is always mutual.

My previous lectureship took place during an extremely difficult time of my life. The students were amazing, they showed maturity, grace and genuine empathy. I look back on my time in that role with fondness and gratitude.

We travel through life with our various traumas and many stop us to help carry the load. A kind comment, a supportive tweet, encouragement to write and continue with projects.

The working relationships we make with students and peers via our online behaviours are a staunch reminder that we do not know who is being impacted by our musings. Impact cannot be consigned to the REF and to formal measurements.  I engage far more with thinkers and writers via twitter and blogs than I do with formal means such as journal articles and conferences. I read probably 5-10 online articles every day and enjoy developing my own thoughts with online debate. I discover new writers and ideas through those recommended in my timeline.

Social media does not have to used to indulge in the latest influencers and surface mutterings. It is a key site of radical social change and resistance. 

The level of activism visible on these platforms is impressive. We have never lived in times where it is easier to disseminate information. This has given rise to the far-right and fake news but has also offered the opportunity for more people to engage critically with politics/ theology/ sociology/ law.

Resisting social media can be a naive move. For the church in particular, Christians occupying space online has lead to an increase in the church body.  It also offers engagement for different people, and for those who have been traditionally excluded from spaces and debates.

I spend time online to read and think, to develop and test out ideas, and to keep updated with trends of thought. It is always encouraging to hear that someone has read an article I shared, or has written something as a result of my argument. We need to start viewing online public sociology as a valid and valuable space. There is no paywall and no hierarchy. To me Sociology will always be about the real and the everyday. I wrote about this here.

I am inspired and motivated daily by the wonderful thinkers I have in my life. I am honoured if anyone claims they are motivated by me.

The words pictured were sent to me by a former student. I read them and smiled, they resonated strongly with me., and isn’t that the point of all our exchanges?

Gemma x