As Melbourne recently went back into another lockdown, and I looked at all the social media I encountered – frightened, scathing, angry and hopeless – I pledged to Post Positive during what I am now calling, Lockdown 2.0.
Why might I do this? There are many reasons.
Firstly, I am becoming increasingly concerned by many of the behaviours I see online, and as a teacher I can see the result of young people learning to complain and “have a go” in an online forum because the person you are directing your words to feels like they are invisible. They are not. Someone reads everything you post online. And someone feels it. This includes the Premier, celebrities, victims of COVID, and even people who broke the rules. I may also agree that Karen from Brighton’s frustrations about having to walk in her own suburb and not on The Tan are fairly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things – but I am genuinely concerned about her wellbeing as a simple expression of frustrations on camera has now led to a plethora of memes and a series of Facebook groups sending her up.
I think we as adults have to be much more conscious of what we post, not only to be kind to others, but to model how we want young people to behave online as well. This is all part of a broader conversation about digital citizenship – we have to have strategies to teach young people to behave in the online world in the same way that we do face to face.
Learning online we also need to ensure we create safe and supportive environments – like we would in our own classrooms for young people to take risks and ask questions.
Even if you are not attacking others, spreading messages of sarcasm, fear or hopelessness contributes to a general overall feeling of negativity which we don’t need. We don’t need it ever, but we especially don’t need it right now when we are all combatting our natural instinct to get out and about and interact with others. We will experience moments of frustration and even moments where we deeply recognise a sense of loss. We need to support each other, show love and kindness and forgiveness and understanding. We should be accentuating the positive. Supporting small businesses. Congratulating and encouraging each other. Sharing things that will help – like young children filming themselves reading a story, or recommending books and games and puzzles and yes, even television right now.
And secondly, we need to be conscious that we will interact with each other mainly in online spaces over the next six weeks. And if this is our social world, we need to think about the world we want to help shape for our friends and family.
Let’s never give up hope online, even if we have a moment where we give up in person. This too shall pass. Every difficult moment passes – but the status update remains. If you want to reach out and express frustration and ask for help – don’t do it publicly and en masse. Seek help from someone close to you in a private message.
What you put out into the world has an impact on the world and those in it. Pledge to post positively until this next lockdown is over, and you can rest assured you will be spreading joy and hope when we need it most.