Politics & Equality

Practical social media inclusivity

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).

Recommendations please!

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.

Love from Smell xxx

12 thoughts on “Practical social media inclusivity”

  1. I absolutely love meeting people who are different from me and who express themselves differently through writing and blogging. It is one of the best things about sharing my writing.

    I cannot say that I have ever intentionally sought out inclusivity or unfollowed an account because their content was too normal. I follow people because I am interested in their views and thoughts and lives, not necessarily because of how they look or where they come from. I believe in equality and diversity, but for me it will always be about how I connect with a person, life, or story, regardless of the person’s origins. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Smell! I strive for inclusivity and continue to work on my own bias–it can creep in rather easily, but the more we recognize these instances, the more we can change our way of thinking and do better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This all makes obvious sense. I have to admit that I don’t go out of my way to search for new people to follow on social media. I’m on Instagram to enjoy photos of outdoors and other good photos, and not generally the individual’s face themselves, so unless they’re a blogger I’ve seen interesting content on, then I won’t follow just because I need educating. However, I do follow a couple of people who’re big on feminism, inclusion, diversity, both from a white cis point of view, and from an LGBTQ+ angle, as well as sharing a lot of things they’re learning about it on their stories, so I learn a lot from them and follow the trail to find out more and understand it at that point. Twitter I think I probably access more due to seeing discussions and what’s shared, although there are a couple of people I follow who are quite extreme right and although I like chatting to them about banal tv stuff, I don’t like the rest they share or support. I really should unfollow them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can really identify with searching for copy-right free inclusive images to use. Sometimes it seems a gargantuan task. One of the biggest difficulties I found while teaching at a school where a large proportion of the students came from a culture where no images of people or animals are to be used was a real challenge for me when trying to create teaching materials for phonics lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Always good to reflect on unconscious bias. The BLM movement definitely opened my eyes to how I had been following ‘people like me’ and I’ve actively tried to follow more black creatives. You’ve reminded me that diversity is so much more than just about ethnicity though. Thank you for sharing – as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh wow, thank you for the honourable mention and the very kind words about how I write my articles.

    One of the ways I use social media to make sure I don’t find myself in an echo chamber is to follow news organisations that are on the right, so I’m not just living on a diet of left wing news. It can often help to see what both sides views are on the same topic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are excellent. I think it’s so easy to stay in our own little bubble, but doing so is actually dangerous.
      Think about anti-vaxx folk who only expose themselves to other antivaxxers and ignore the rest of the world and the scientific community? Or even me, I was shocked by the Brexit vote because I was clearly out of touch with the wider British community. Stuck in my bubble of like minded people, I didn’t see the reasons for other people’s decisions.

      Liked by 1 person

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