A Level Playing Field? Social Media Logic and the Breakdown of Democratic Communication

When the participatory web was new, activists and researchers alike were excited by the potential of this new medium to connect groups without the need for conventional gatekeepers. Because social media allows anyone to post information that anyone (everyone) else can theoretically access, it changed the broadcast model of communication from a one to many (or point to multi-point) to a many to many (or multi-point to multi-point) system. Initially, this change delivered on its promise, facilitating movements like #occupy, #idlenomore, and #blacklivesmatter. More recently, however, even though social media still connects people and facilitates some political organization, it has also revealed its darker side.

A handwritten protest sign, reading: The revolution will not be televised but it will be downloaded and streamed live
Protest Sign05 by a.mina. Available from Flikr: https://flic.kr/p/audzig

 

Continue reading “A Level Playing Field? Social Media Logic and the Breakdown of Democratic Communication”

A Level Playing Field? Social Media Logic and the Breakdown of Democratic Communication

Learning is Uncomfortable, or Why Self Help is Misleading

If you find your calling, everything will fall into place. You will receive a “sense of energy” or “flow”. Your inner voice will speak its “truth” and you will always feel like you have made the right choice. If you “align your personality with your purpose then no one can touch you“. Sound familiar? These might, because I’ve pulled them from popular life advice articles. These claims sound right to us, they sound (much like, it’s claimed our calling does) true. But I believe that I see evidence every day in the classroom that these claims and ones like them do us a grave disservice when it comes to our own personal development, growth and learning.

A picture of hot air balloons over a desert with inspiring words written on it
Balloons by foam. Available from Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/oqvMzp

Why are these beliefs troublesome? They feel right, and everyone wants to find their calling in life. By simplifying purpose though, I think they overlook important facts about how difficult true growth is, and how meaningful the experience of difficulty can be for growth. Though not explicit, the unspoken subtext of this and similar advice is this: If you find your true calling, if your purpose is aligned with your true self, then the steps you take in the process of achieving that calling will be smooth and without struggle. And this is just plain wrong. On the contrary – most meaningful growth requires tremendous struggle. Learning is uncomfortable.

Continue reading “Learning is Uncomfortable, or Why Self Help is Misleading”

Learning is Uncomfortable, or Why Self Help is Misleading

Just Because I Grade You, Doesn’t Mean I’m Judging Your Intelligence

Just in time for the term to end, and grading to begin at many institutions, I wanted to write about how I, and almost all other instructors or professors I know, view the grading process. I think it’s important as a student to approach assignments with this view in mind, as it will help you to let go of some of the feelings or road blocks that may be currently holding you back.

A stamp on plywood stating "Grade B" in large block letters
Grade B: Upper Queen Street, Ruined House. By wonderferret. Available on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/33XsFf

Just because I grade your work, doesn’t mean I judge your intelligence, or your abilities, or your worth as a human being or contribution as an individual. That’s not what grading assignments is about at all. At least, not to me. Continue reading “Just Because I Grade You, Doesn’t Mean I’m Judging Your Intelligence”

Just Because I Grade You, Doesn’t Mean I’m Judging Your Intelligence