Watching this video was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster; at first it was positive and I was into it but towards the end, it started to get a bit more morbid and depressing and made me start questioning things.
I can 100% relate to the general motif of the video: the more likes/followers/retweets you receive, the more empowered you feel. I’m guilty of this as well. The only social media network I use is Facebook but I am on it constantly. Sometimes it’s automatic; I go to type in a different URL in the address bar but my brain makes my fingers type in Facebook instead. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night with 100 more visits throughout the day. It gets worse when I post a picture or a status update; then I constantly check my phone or laptop to see how many people like and/or comment on my post. Sometimes I tell my fiance to go on and like whatever it is that I post (which drives him crazy). In a sense, it is ridiculous. Why should something online, something that’s not happening in real time, matter so much? The truth of the matter is: what’s posted online IS happening in real time. That’s what makes it so important. It’s a way for everyone to be connected.
As the video stated, kids today are more sophisticated in the ways that they connect with others but they are also more vulnerable; they depend on the likes as a way to feel accomplished and accepted. It’s the same old story as it always has been; being popular is important. The only difference is now kids are popular online which in turn makes them popular in real life.
So how does this apply to teachers in the classroom? How can we use this technology tool to help benefit us? I believe that we need to act like the marketers acted in the video; we essentially use the kids to promote ourselves as the newest trendy thing. Probably the first step in doing this is creating a class/teacher blog that enables the students to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the classroom. Not only is a blog guaranteed to be read by your students, it will also put you, as the teacher, in a more relatable view. It will start small, maybe only your students will follow/like you, but the more you post and the more that they talk about you, the bigger it will become. Blogs can serve as a means of keeping in contact with parents as well, and parents LOVE seeing what’s happening in the classroom. My school started a Facebook page last year and it currently has 722 likes. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things but a lot considering that the school itself has less than 600 students and clearly it’s not the students who are liking the page but their parents and friends of parents.
But how far is too far? The girl who was featured at the end, I thought her story was sad. She was only in eighth grade but she was already obsessed with getting ahead in the “game” of likes. Her mother was pushing her to sing (and she wasn’t that good at it) and make videos. Perhaps the most disturbing part was how fixated on the likes her mother was even to the point of posting slightly provocative and raunchy full-body pictures. And for who? Faceless boys going through puberty? Girls with low self-esteem? Perverts? Instead of concentrating so much on her YouTube channel, the mother should be encouraging her daughter to take vocal lessons and perform for real audiences. Even at the end of the segment, the girl is sitting on her bed looking confused and troubled.
I thought the Hunger Games reference was very accurate, “That’s how the game of likes is played. It feels empowering and feels like a social community but ultimately kids are out there alone trying to live and survive.”