Informers

I’m a re-Tweeter. I’m more likely to share information by retweeting and not always taking the time to add my own personal comment. I sometimes neglect to comment on FaceBook as well, but not quite as often. I’ll usually add a comment to a story or photo on Facebook depending what device I’m using to post.

While I’ve learned to make sure to read anything before sharing it online, it doesn’t appear that I’ve read it if I don’t take the time to add a comment. And, my daughter tells me it doesn’t call attention to what I’ve shared, it doesn’t engage people.

When I’m emailing a link or articles to colleagues, I’ll always provide an annotation. If I want them to take the time to read what I’m sending, I want to make it look worth their time. I know that I will not open a link anyone sends me in a text or email if it isn’t accompanied by something they’ve written, something to add context and to let me know it isn’t spam.

But this retweeting. I’m growing out of my hesitancy to share of myself on social media, but it’s a slow process and I can’t say I know for sure why. Perhaps it stems from my introvertedness as I am slow to share of myself in person as well. When sharing in on social media you never know how you’ll be taken because it is very easy to be misunderstood in mediums that don’t allow for tone of voice or body gestures.

I think it’s interesting that the two times someone called me out for how I was sharing information on Twitter, it was done by males. The first thought I shouldn’t have used a Google Doc to share a call for proposals for a journal on which I’m guest editing. I wanted to ask him how old he was, but I refrained. I’ve seen WordPress used to host very well done online scholarly journals, Facebook used as the online presence for anything from restaurants to social movements and he thought Google Docs was inappropriate for me to use and had the audacity to tell me so.

The second instance was a gentleman who told me “IME, real activists rarely trumpet their alleged influence in achieving a result, they quietly engage next struggle.” (What is IME??) His profile states “Challenge your own beliefs. Ideology is like vampirism: it robs you of your own reflection. Question. Think. Play.” I think he forgot to follow his own advice.

I didn’t feel the need to engage with this stranger to tell him that I hadn’t written my RECALLED post to highlight my small contribution to the Birthday Cake recall. I have no idea how many other forces were moving between the time Birthday Cake released then was recalled and there were numerous other people who were actually engaging on social media. What I did know was that Scholastic was controlling the story, as they tried to do since the book was released. Myself and others felt the need to document our share of the history, and not let Scholastic continue to control the story. We saw what happened when they tried to control Hercules’ story.

And, I’d seen how the press was simply reposting the story about the book. When the flurry began on Twitter, the Altlanta Blackstar wrote an expository piece and other online outlets essentially reposted their article. The news articles changed with Scholastic’s press release on Sunday. From this point, almost every major news source you can think of reposted that release. Salon did not. Nor did the CanadianBroadcastingCorp.. nor Comedy Central. This recycling of news is pretty lazy journalism.

I’m not a journalist, but I do have to do better than simply retweeting. I can do better than that. One thing I’ve had reinforced from this Scholastic thing is the fact that information is a commodity. While many may want to rant about censorship (can we call all the silenced voices of marginalized authors censorship?) I think we, especially librarians, need to see this recall of the book as a business decision. I say especially librarians because critical librarianship clearly tells us that information is neither free nor neutral and that we always have to consider who is controlling the source. Scholastic controlled this from the day they released the book. When they decided to pull the book, they had a press release ready to control the story and when they decided to pull the book, they created a scarce item. The remaining copies sold out everywhere and third parties were selling the book for $50-$100. And Scholastic no longer had the book on their hands. The executives executed a rarely seen marketing program that was void of any consideration for the women of color who were taking hits front and center while it was the book and the institution that released it that was and is the problem. I’ll continue to criticize the book, just as I criticized A Fine Dessert, but I will not attack the integrity of any of the women involved with either of these books. They’ll do better next time, they will not repurpose the same smiling slaves, but I have no doubt the publishers will try it, or something very similar again very soon.

So, yes, I do have to up my game when I tweet, FB or Storify. I have to use my voice, as do we all. As overwhelming as it feels to know that this government and this economy are trying to over power us marginalized people, it is liberating to know that we, too can find use, share and create information.

I am so very glad I’m a librarian.

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3 thoughts on “Informers

  1. The more I read your blog, Edi, the more I appreciate your voice: thoughtful, substantive, informative, humane.

    This piece provided a reflective experience for me. I, too, often retweet without comment. I’m certainly no introvert, but I often feel, particularly as a white woman retweeting writing by people of color, that I don’t need to insert myself into the conversation. But it occurs to me that there’s a way to just express appreciation – possibly with a quote from the tweet? – without making it be about me.

    I’m going to retweet the link to this piece – but I’ll be sure to add a comment when I do.

  2. I am very careful not to retweet without reading. At Midwinter 2015, I asked people in the Day of Diversity to be aware of retweeting book lists. Too many book lists I’m seeing (for books that came out last year) include ones I do not recommend. BFYA, for example, has THE HIRED GIRL (kids playing Indian) and WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER (misrepresents Native people as being graverobbers, which isn’t true).

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