Social Media Ethos Project


New semester, new experiment.

I’m teaching Advanced Expository Composition this Winter, and we are talking a lot about expository writing across multiple modalities-including online. As a semester-long project, I’m asking the class to try out a Social Media Ethos Project. During the semester, we will all choose one social media platform we either haven’t used yet, or are currently using, but want to revise HOW we use it. We’ll post at least 1-2 times a week specifically to cultivate a desired ethos and follow up on our purpose for using that platform. I’m doing it, too, and I’ll be reflecting on my experiences this semester on this blog.

The social media platform I’ve chosen to experiment with this semester is Twitter. I already had an account up, but it is pretty neglected. My purpose this semester is to explore and (hopefully) get some conversations going about work-life balance in academia. 

Here’s what happened as I got started on my SMEP work:

Logging in: When I logged in to Twitter, I realized that my profile page was 2 years old. I decided to switch it to a more recent pic. I wanted the profile pic to include my family, since they are a huge part of my pursuit of “work-life balance.”

A Mini-Experiment: I took a few minutes to search for “what’s out there” regarding the topic I’m interested in. I plugged in #worklifebalance first. There were LOTS of tweets, from an article about how working dads develop work-life balance, to female cardiologists taking shorter maternity leave. Individuals had posted photos of their family and included the hashtag. One colorful article had the title of “Stop pretending work-life balance is a thing: it’s not.” Mainly, though, there were lots of links to articles and blogs about people with corporate jobs seeking work-life balance. So, I decided to refine my search and added to the prior hashtag, #education. This pulled up LOTS of tweets from the UK, which I found interesting. One workshop on how to reduce grading time ( or “marking” as it’s called across the pond and in Canada) was retweeted several times. Mostly, though, the tweets were from or about elementary and secondary teachers. Ok, so I refined one more time. Along with #worklifebalance, I added #highered. What happened next made me say “whoa” so loud that my husband asked what was wrong. (!) There was one tweet with that combo of hashtags. One. screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-29-33-pm

It was a link to an ecology professor’s blog, which had been retweeted by another ecology professor from Montreal. Basically, the blog was a short narrative on how it is ok to do your work at odd times–5am, for example. Maybe less about “balance” per se, and more about feeling less guilty for sending an email at 5am?

Participation: I spent the next few minutes re-tweeting the few articles I found that might be interesting and applied to my new purpose. screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-29-48-pm screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-29-57-pm screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-30-08-pm

Also, as luck would have it, I came across a question from a fellow scholar in rhetoric and composition, asking about a “wicked problem”* that we should talk about. Serendipitously, I replied that we need to talk more about work-life balance. screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-2-30-17-pm

We’ll see what comes of that conversation!

*Last year’s C’s conference focused on the theme of Taking Action. One of the special Taking Action sessions was led by Dr. Glenda Eoyang and focused on human systems dynamics and conceptualizing the “wicked problems” in our discipline–along with strategies for how to approach them!


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