[David Strom's Web Informant] This campaign isn't like high school

David Strom david at strom.com
Mon Oct 31 16:27:16 EDT 2016

Web Informant, October 31, 2016: This campaign isn't like high school

This week I had a chance to talk to some high school kids in the area. They
are part of a business class, where I came to talk about using Twitter and
other social media tools. I had given this presentation before to previous
classes for the past several years, so I wasn’t really focused on the
events of the presidential campaign and how current they would be in this
context. And I found our discussions quite interesting, but not in the way
you might think.

I was actually surprised to the mature responses from the kids. Many of the
students thought that some of things being said on social media and on TV
about the campaigns were certainly entertaining, but they thought the
candidates weren’t acting appropriately. I made the comment that many of
the students seemed more mature in their reactions compared to what the
candidates Tweeted and posted, and there were nods all around the room.

Their teacher was also surprised by their responses. “Maybe the kids are
more interested in the presidential election this year, because it is
racier. But I am also shocked that both candidates’ PR teams allow these
kinds and levels of responses. I think this election will be in many
studies as an example of what NOT to do,” said this teacher. “I wonder what
would have happened if we had social media during the Watergate scandal

The class is pretty tech savvy: the kids use Twitter, Slack, Instagram and
LinkedIn to communicate with each other and with their teachers, and are
encouraged to do so. “It is expected that we use social media more,” said
their teacher. I was surprised that many of the kids weren’t really facile
with Twitter, and I guess that was one of the reasons why I was there, to
help them understand how to use it more effectively.

Their teacher has been teaching for decades, and recalls what happened
during class when 9/11 happened. “We watched the event live during class on
TV. Later, our principal was getting phone calls from parents complaining
about my decision. And this was from parents of 17 and 18 year olds. That
was crazy. These kids could be drafted!”

I mentioned that during the last couple of debates, parents were posting
thoughts about not letting younger kids watch the debates.  “In our
community, parents do shelter their kids from the news. We are definitely
living in a different world politically, and I think this campaign amounts
to one big negative political ad that is running continuously. It is like a
long version of a TMZ episode that is embarrassing to our nation. Not sure
if I know what the true issues are anymore.”

One issue for this and other teachers: using social media is a tricky
situation. Last year, a local special ed teacher was suspended for several
after her profanity-laced tweets got her into trouble with the school
district. And there are numerous other examples of other teachers who have
gotten in trouble over their tweets, which seem tame now compared to what
the candidates say about each other lately. Teaching is a tough enough job
already – my mother was a special ed teacher for decades – but having to
navigate these waters now has to be done with care.

Still, I thought it instructive with all the “locker room talk” and “boys
being boys” – at least when it came to this high school class – the kids
took the higher road. Maybe there is something we can learn from this to
improve our supposedly “adult” discourse.

Comments always welcome here: http://blog.strom.com/wp/?p=5645
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