When I first started posting on Twitter last July, I loved learning how things got retweeted. I would follow my feed and look at the retweets and get really, really excited. I think retweets are a kind of feedback from my followers; they are a connection, like a big, long thread connecting me to the world.
In my excitement, I also noticed how sometimes people would retweet, but with nasty messages. It made me worried and cautious. I thought about how hard it is to figure out why people do that.
Then, it happened.
I posted a LivBit about strong women, and I shared how happy I was for girls everywhere to see Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. I felt proud that so many people supported a woman. It made me feel like they were supporting me! As soon as I tweeted out my LivBit, a nasty retweet happened. A person dared people to “digitally punch me in the face” for my post. I felt scared and confused.
But, I was prepared. In order for me to be on Twitter, my mom had helped me understand the power of a digital tribe. A tribe is a group of followers who will help me if she isn’t right there. They are people who know me, my work, and agree to protect me if the social media waters get too rough. I never interact with a negative tweet; I let my tribe take care of it for me. All I have to do is message people in my tribe, and they will help me shut the negative down.
One member of my digital tribe is my guardian shark, Helen. Helen is a Great White Shark tagged by Ocearch. Ocearch does ALL kinds of amazing things to teach people about how important sharks are to the oceans. I’ve done a lot of LivBits on sharks and shark research because I want to be a voice for sharks, and especially, Helen.
Helen taught me to block in order to bloom. Sometimes the best strategy on social media is to understand there are people out there who will never help you grow, so it’s better to block them. Blocking gives you the power to remove negativity from your feed. A digital tribe can help get the message out to the goober that their behavior is not OK.
I think it’s really important to teach kids how to protect themselves on social media.
It would be great if all kids were taught about having a digital tribe and how to block and bloom. Lots of times kids are just given devices and begin posting, but no one really shows them how to be responsible. And since everyone has different ideas about what responsible means, kids can get stuck in situations that are hard to understand.
In my last blog post, I said that your tweet is #140charactersofHOPE. Your retweet is a chance to #ConnectandGROW someone else’s ideas, message, or cause. And, who knows? Maybe their cause can become your cause, too!
I am not going to lie; using social media can be confusing sometimes. You have to figure out who is “real” and who is “fake.” Sometimes the people you think support you, really don’t. It’s hard to learn that lesson and I am still figuring all that out. People will take your words, your images, and even your voice if you let them. Don’t let them.
Find your tribe and love them hard! Block the goobers and keep on blooming!
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