What happens when you get it wrong? What happens when you are responsible for sending out disrespect, misinformation, or unkindness? What happens when you take out your anxiety, your worry or your nervous energy out on and mandate, a law, a belief, an idea or a person? Where are the apologies in the twitter world?
We are hard wired to seek the one face in the crowd that is frowning, showing contempt or anger. When being part of a community was a life and death prospect, it was critical to know who your enemies were. We still have the predisposition to seek out anger and contempt.
Social media and the amoral algorithms that determine what we see and what we don't see take advantage of this evolutionary trait. It favours the mic dropping one liner gotcha moment over the long form thoughtful approach of critical thinking.
The rules of engagement on twitter encourage likes, retweets and follows. Self righteous indignation works because the ping of wrath or being right or being wronged moves information quickly. It does not have to be true. In fact, it rarely is.
So what happens when you get it wrong? What happens when you are responsible for sending out disrespect, misinformation, or unkindness? What happens when you take out your anxiety, your worry or your nervous energy out on and mandate, a law, a belief, an idea or a person?
Where are the apologies in the twitter world?
The Covid pandemic has highlighted the problem of misinformation but it has also amplified the need to include moral practice and accountability as a public good.
The searing example for me is how this played out between some public school teachers who publicly went after Dr. Bonnie Henry the BC Provincial Health Officer. Dr. Henry's job was to guide public policy on best practice based on ongoing research. Ongoing research is a moving target as is a pandemic. Early on Dr. Henry made the decision to have students and school communities back to work. Understandably, there were many who were nervous, even scared of what this would mean to their well being. Some chose to publicly attack these ideas - not just question or name their worries, but attack the character and the decisions she made.
And now it turns out the data shows that schools were safer places than homes and community. Schools were safe. Not perfect. I know of some colleagues who got covid from schools and who have suffered considerably as a result. Nevertheless, the careful roll out and protocols in schools has been a success.
From where I stand, I as a teacher and a counsellor have to work rigorously to make amends and repair harm. I make a misstep with parents and I have to take a step back, apologize and figure out how to build back relationship. I move too quickly with a student and push too far and I have to double back and apologize, name my error and work towards repair.
And part of my work is teaching children to do the same thing. That is my job. And we know that our behaviour as the adults in the building is key. I have to model this practice. Not perfect, but trying everyday. If trauma informed practice has taught me anything it is that 90% of my work is repair.
If you make a mistake, you work to fix it. You acknowledge your part in it. You apologize. If you have made a delightful mic drop statement on twitter, in a very public forum, use that forum.
Build an algorithm that favours the apology. Become that algorithm and own your shit.