As a country, we are yet again faced with a moment to reflect upon; a moment that some view as a triumph of our justice system and others as a failure. Regardless of which perspective you believe to be true, in a moment such as this we all must take pause to understand how mainstream media coverage and social media messaging has impacted our understanding of recent events.
Author: The Canaries
‘Social media’ is often spoken about abstractly, removed from people’s actual experiences of using these platforms and participating (or not) in these online spaces. But in actuality — in the day-to-day and moment-to-moment ways in which people engage with them — social media spaces can bring us a range of emotions: joy and heartache, inspiration and distraction, connectivity and isolation. Each of us having our own personally curated experience online, separate from that of others, yet intrinsically entwined at the same time, presents a paradox that can muddle reality, breakdown communication, and distort our perception of self and others.
Do you hear that? That voice? That voice inside your head? That internal narrative we can have, guiding our every decision each and every day. This internal narrative that is so personal, so sacred to us is not inherently created from within. This story we tell ourselves is created and influenced by all the external narratives that we consume, from our lived experiences to those others share with us. It comes from the books we read, the shows we watch, the music we listen to. It is morphing constantly as we take in more information. And although it will always morph, that doesn’t mean that it is always changing.
Narratives are the stories we see and tell ourselves. They can be fact, fictional, or a combination that muddles reality. They compellingly invite us to engage and believe. They hold our history, our triumphs, and our pain. They are everywhere. All the time.
The neglect of the relationship between education and democracy is in my view our greatest contemporary failure, and it has led us precisely and inevitably to this moment of profound civic crisis.
When we start to consider our role in democracy outside of voting, the actions we need to take can become less clear, less quantifiable. I know I have heard my whole life that if I feel a certain way about an issue I should write to my Elected Representatives, that a letter from a constituent is worth 10 lobbyists. But when I look at the trend in policy towards corporate interests it becomes harder to believe that that action, or my voice, could make a difference.
We’re thrilled to introduce the Conversations with Canaries Podcast, which we have launched with the hopes of creating an opportunity to invite you into the conversations that we have with each other and so often in our own heads, as we explore the possibilities of harnessing conversation as a corrective social mechanism – arguably the best tool we have to work through the challenges we face as a society. We hope that you come away from these conversations stirred, inspired, and perhaps even puzzled. Enjoy. ~ The American Canary Team
Being critical of how the media is impacting our emotional well-being as we navigate within our own media landscapes is just as important as being conscious of the presence of influence.
Reflecting upon our own emotional experience as we consume, use, and create media will help us to better understand our own engagement. What use creates joy or wellness? What use creates despair or frustration? What are the boundaries I need to set for myself?
Taped to my window is a brightly colored, eight-part chart entitled “Emotion Cards” that was provided to me by the outstanding organization Building Bridges. It includes the typical emotions one might think of when they are asked the seemingly simple question, “How are you feeling?”. The headlines are happy/sad/angry/bad etc., but then it drops down to more specific reactions. Under “anxious” are the terms scared, insecure, defensive, and fearful; below those come even more specific language: helpless, inadequate, excluded, exposed.