I think most people agree that inclusion and the absence of exclusion are very good things. If you want some tips on how to be more inclusive in day to day real life, maybe have a read of Inclusion – a how to.
Last year I read A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford, in which he explains that genetically there is no such thing as race. Equally, someone’s social or economic status or family situation is just a coincidence of circumstances. Our physical abilities and mental health or capacity aren’t really controllable and don’t deserve to be considered before who we are on the inside.
I try to be inclusive and I’m aware of conscious bias. That doesn’t stop me falling foul of it though.
One of the ways I think we can combat exclusion is simply by broadening our horizons. Exposing ourselves to people who are different from those we usually encounter. By doing that we can become more aware, sympathetic and connected to those who’s lives are different in anyway.
So here are some tips on how we can use social media to become more inclusive, rather than closing ourselves in and surrounding ourselves only with people we immediately identify with and think we fit in with.
Stop accepting suggestions
Instagram and Facebook constantly bombard me with accounts that they think I would like to follow.
Sure, if I follow them, something will make me smile, feel familiar, relatable and give me a sense of community. But come on this is social media, all that is false and an illusion.
Seek out different accounts
Maybe search for a topic you want to know more about. Pick someone who contributes to that and follow them (maybe notnsomeone with millions of followers already, try to pick someone who’s just keeping it real).
Or if you’re included in a tag or a thread, follow everyone back. Not just the people who seem familiar, everyone. Even if they seem weird to you. These are the people who will challenge your preconceptions and help you adapt your definition of weird.
I deliberately follow people who are different from me – who look different, who like different things, who identify with different genders or sexuality, whose skin is a different colour, who don’t run, who are full time parents, who aren’t parents, who are younger or older than me, whose bodies work differently, whose minds work differently and so on and so on.
If you find someone that interests you, don’t unfollow them just because they don’t follow back. Maybe they have particular goals in mind, or use different accounts for different purposes. Don’t reject the opportunity to learn and explore.
Unfollow accounts that seem biased
One of the worst things you can do is expose yourself to extra bias. If you find yourself reading a post that encourages judgement or affirms an inflexible mindset, get rid of that account. You don’t need to indulge confirmational bias.
Share diverse content
If you see a post that strikes you, that catches your attention as challenging you typical thoughts, that makes you think differently and consider a different point of view. Don’t just like it or comment, share it. Help to encourage others to have similar eye opening experiences.
Consider your own posts
When you’re writing a post, thing about what you’re saying. A colleague at work recently asked “has anyone got examples of how they could have handled an interaction with a neurodiverse person better?” The response from a neurodiverse colleague was that she felt excluded by that question. She, as a neurodiverse person, wasn’t being asked for examples of when someone neurotypical could have handled a situation better.
If you’re going to ask for contributions, try to let anyone and everyone respond.
Think about the images you use. I spent ages trawling Canva (yeah only the free stuff) for an image for this post that included a group of people with mixed ethnicities, body shapes, obvious physical abilities. I searched for “diversity” but couldn’t find anything that did what I wanted – hence the pencils. I found a nice one of shoes but, well, not everyone needs shoes so that implicitly excludes those people. There was a nice picture of hands, but they were all skinny and young looking, perfectly manicured – another no. I tried “inclusion” but that was no better and “everyone’s different” gave some pictures of groups of pegs with one different one – totally not what I asked for!
How do I do these things?
I’m very aware that my Instagram in particular is very “samey”. It’s full of running, blogging and mums. I’m trying to pick up new accounts that broaden my horizons. I recently had a clear out of the people I follow. Not a massive one, but I unfollowed some people who post rather generic, “normal” content to clear out my feed and make way for more diversity. For example, I searched for “equality” and scrolled through the results, following accounts that weren’t companies and that weren’t large. I prefer to follow small accounts because they’re more likely to be raw and unfiltered.
If I read a blog post about a diversity and inclusion topic, I read through the comments and might follow some of the folk who commented. This helps broaden the people I see content from.
There are a couple of blogs that I follow and that I regularly share.
Unwanted Life is an absolutely fantastic place to visit and learn more about a whole range of ways that life can be different. More than that, every single article is so well researched and referenced. This isn’t someone reporting on a YouTube they watched, it’s full on proper analysis of published research.
Invisibly Me is a beautifully true account of Caz’s experiences. She shares so much about the challenges she faces and I love her honesty. She’s not resentful though, and just as much as she writes about invisible disabilities, she also writes about the completely “normal” parts of life that are recognisable to us all; making it clear that she’s not “different” at all (because, you know, she’s not).
Tell me more about the diverse blogs you run or follow or share. I’d love to broaden my horizons more, combat any unconscious bias I carry with me.
As a white, cis, well-educated, neurotypical, financially stable, physically fit and able person, I’m conscious that I may have missed huge things in this post. If I did and you’re annoyed with me, or disappointed, or feel left out; please, please tell me.