Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving recipe: administrative jurisdiction, government, mixed with social media

Add to this concoction, mainstream media which leverages social media like facebook (your method to sign into this blog and respond if you wish) and Twitter the personal broadcasting tool where we can tweet even our hearts discontent. If you’re giving thanks for our American gifts, like free speech, consider this headline news story.

I’ll be tweeting a link to this piece, mentioning Kansas Governor Brownback (@govsambrownback) and our Kansas City Star (@KCStar) to widen the net of coverage. These days, we can write words and share them in a few seconds. Online social media tools enable us to respond at high speed with packets of information that hurtle like tiny freight trains whose cars separate and re-link and appear on your flat-screened device of choice. We have the tools to add color commentary to events we witness, to create a virtual huddle on a playing field, to share a side-bar at a conference with those miles away from the conference table.

There are ample examples recently where administrative entities like schools and business are flexing their authority muscles in the murky gray areas of social media. Governments, even Presidents, tweet. It’s a confusing realm while being an inspiring and socially changing world where we communicate. Yet, what’s interesting is that we do not always appreciate the social reach of our social broadcasts.

I would have handled the effects of this high school student's tweet quietly, in private. I’m not critical of the Star in making this public, even publishing a picture of the student. This could become a national story after we wrap the Thanksgiving leftovers. It seems an interesting piece for Ira Glass’ “This American Life”. The story will start a conversation here, I suspect.

We’re easily distracted. I’m guilty of that tendency…easily distracted by stories, affected by live theatre and art days after experiencing it. I write a lot. I read too much. I multi-task and listen to music while I read and write, often at the same time. I tweet, post interesting things to friends on Facebook. I’ve had to learn to be patient with myself, to think twice or more before I click the send button, hit the return key, touch the “OK” link on my touchscreen.

This sunny morning, after breakfast, sitting with coffee, a friend, watching the cat bask in the warm sun, smelling a turkey that’s smoking somewhere downwind in the neighborhood here in Kansas, I felt I had to write something about this complex stew of social media, administrative jurisdiction, and government. Add your favorite ingredients to this amazing recipe without measurement. I think that this story of a student tweet on a field trip, a governors’ “concern”, a school principal’s counsel, a family’s reaction(s), and a student’s thoughts on the matter will send more digital ripples across this network of ours. Or is it ours?

If you’re aching to instigate an explosive, dessert-ruining debate at the table today, this just may be it. Happy Thanksgiving.

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