Does Social Media Support Diversity?

Talley Student Union view from elevator

Students walk on campus by the Talley Student Union. Photo by Marc Hall

If you follow us on Twitter, you will notice a steady rise in the number of followers who get their OIED updates on that platform. In a short time, OIED has gained over 500 followers. OIED’s Twitter account is deftly managed by O’Licia Parker-Smith, a second-year student in Communication who is also active in several campus organizations. See what O’Licia has to say about her observations on social media as it relates to diversity.

Diverse birdsLikes, retweets, repost, and comments. We all can do them twenty-four hours, seven days a week. We joke about celebrities, obsess over fashion blogs and have live commentary on TV shows, sports games and major debates.

We use social media as the forefront of voicing our opinions, sharing our lives and coming together as a community to talk about issues. But what about the issue of diversity? Can you really talk about diversity on social media? Take Twitter for instance. With the record speed and ability to live tweet, we can all chime in our written thoughts just as fast as we can say them. With that kind of power, people will station themselves at their technology device for hours ready to defend whichever side of the spectrum they are on.

Is this a good outlet to talk about diversity? I think it allows the opportunity for hundreds and thousands of people to witness a conversation that can change perspectives and ultimately change lives. But it can also have its downside when there are people present who are committed to not being educated and aware of these issues. When you are using social media to have conversations, everyone is automatically invited because it is public. Not everyone will be open-minded and willing to have an organic conversation. It’s important to approach conversation not ready to ridicule others but to educate and listen to others’ perspectives. Overall, we have to be careful with how we approach conversations of diversity and the platforms we explore them on. It is good to have these conversations but it is important to understand that change and new ways of thinking will not come through ridiculing others but through listening to other perspectives, asking questions and seeking to understand others.

Follow OIED on Twitter @NCStateOIED. From there, you can follow our other units: the African American Cultural Center, the GLBT Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, the Women’s Center, and Staff Diversity, who are now all on Twitter.

O’Licia Parker-Smith is a second-year student in Communication, a member of the Chancellor’s First Year Leadership Program, Student Senator, Impact Leadership Village resident, and an intern in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.