The interaction between self and social media: Q&A with Leesville students and teacher


The Mycenaean (M): How would you describe your personality?
Emily Echols, senior (EE): I would describe my personality as outgoing and I love talking to people and trying to be nice to people.
Tyler Blake, senior (TB): I would say I’m a pretty reserved person, but I don’t like to describe myself as awkward because if somebody talks to me, then I can get a conversation going, but I don’t usually reach out to people myself.

M: How does your personality/characteristics show through social media? Or… How is your personality different from your involvement in social media? Twitter especially?
EE: I wouldn’t say that my personality or really anything shows through social media because I mean sometimes I retweet things that I agree with, but I don’t really say anything that I mean, that I think, or anything on Twitter. So if you looked at my Twitter account, you wouldn’t know me.
TB: The things that I’m interested in and what I’m usually tweeting about are what I’m actually interested in in real life. And then, a lot of people have told me that I seem more outgoing based on my profile, but I’m not really in real life.

M: How do you define Twitter famous?
EE: I guess it’s people who tweet a lot, have really funny tweets, or relatable tweets and a lot of people follow them.
TB: I don’t like to think that I am [twitter famous] because it’s not really a huge interest of mine anymore. A lot of people know me from Twitter but I don’t like to describe myself as Twitter famous because I don’t have thousands of followers and I’m not getting tons of retweets and favorites all the time. So, I don’t like to associate myself as Twitter famous, but people can think I am if they want to.

M: Can you explain follower/following ratio? What sites are people worried about that on? And why is that important to so many people?
EE: You want to have more followers than you are following people because if not you just look don’t look as cool or not as popular. I remember in middle school, whenever Facebook was a thing, you wanted to have a lot of friends. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal though, anymore. I wouldn’t really look at somebody’s friends and judge them on that.

M: Are more people beginning to gain online friends over actual friends? Why do you think so many people become so involved with online friends (trust them more than actual friends)?
EE: I know a lot of times I’ll see people talking on twitter or posting to each other somewhere, but in person they don’t talk, which is kind of weird, or kind of interesting.I think it’s a growing if you make friends on social media you should be able to talk to them in person. Because, like I said, you can make yourself look however you want people to see you on social media.

M: Do you feel more comfortable online or in person?
TB: I think anybody would say that it’s easier to compose a conversation online because you have more time to think of what to say to somebody and its easier to start a conversation with somebody; because in real life, you have to think of what to say and the right way to say it. But online, you can just say whatever you want to because nobody’s seeing how you react or anything. So I would say it’s a lot easier to communicate online than it is in real life, but I don’t necessarily prefer that.

M: How do your relationships online and offline differ?
TB: I mean I’ve met a lot of people from other schools via social media, but I stick with my usual friends in real life. A lot of my friends don’t use Twitter as much as I do, but I’m still cool with them. But I do get to know a lot of people through Twitter, I guess you could say.
M: Do you think your Twitter is an accurate portrayal of your interests in real life?
TB: I think it does because I usually just tweet what’s on my mind or whatever comes to my head. And for certain things, I like to make my opinion known and I kinda put it out there how I feel about things. So, hopefully other people feel the same way about that.

M: What purpose does social media serve in the classroom, just checking homework?
Sally Cade, social studies teacher (SC): For me its a lot more than that, I think one its one of the best ways to build relationships with students, and it has become a really important way for me to become a positive role model. Especially with social media and the ways in which students can treat each other negatively, with things like cyberbullying. So I would say that I, in addition to homework and test reminders, really use Twitter to build relationships with students.

M: What feedback have you heard?
SC: There’s two things: I’ve gotten really good feedback about the school-related part, especially because kids will be like, “Oh yeah I have a quiz tomorrow,” as I’ll start tweeting out review questions, like just asking questions and they’ll write back. The other thing kids really like is the weekend stuff. Like if I’m tweeting about what I’m doing with the soccer team, or the Panthers game this weekend it’s a nice reminder that I’m a person, I have a life, I like to be fun. I’m a very social and outgoing person so it’s very natural for me to share that and I’ve gotten really good feedback from it. I think other teachers are jumping on the train too.

M: What motivated you to start using Twitter?
SC: My motivation was my distaste for Edmodo and blackboard. I was like there’s a better way to reach kids, and you have to think like a teenager. When I was a teenager I probably would’ve thought it was lame if one of my teachers was like “Let me get on Facebook and be your friend or whatever,” but you have to think like a kid and you really have to say to yourself “How do I reach them?” I walk around and all I see is you and your phones. My motivation was “What is the best way to connect with my kids.” Next year it’ll be some new thing, you just have to be constantly willing to evolve and change your methods. The stagnant teacher is a dying breed or so I would like to think. You just have to be willing to go with the flow, and a lot of that has to do with my personality. It’s pretty easy to see why I would be interested in incorporating social media and Twitter in the classroom.

M: How has social media changed your classroom, the dynamic, how you teach…?
SC: Umm that’s a good question. I just think it’s a lot more interactive probably, I mean I’m PBL (project-based learning) anyway. I rarely stand up there and lecture and especially using the social media it’s pretty fun. So Twitter in particular is pretty awesome because it forces people to be concise, and I like what that’s done for my classroom. If you have one takeaway from today be concise. I like 140 characters or less and I like what that does for the kids.


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