#IHMLoyolaChicago: Social (Media) Justice

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 4 Comments

Stacy Neier, Senior Lecturer with Quinlan School of Business, Department of Marketing, on Social Justice and Social Media during Ignatian Heritage Month.

In reflecting on Dale Tampke’s recent Thoughts on Social Justice post, I pause to consider how to daily integrate social justice into our lives. Perhaps, we take for granted that we study and thrive in an environment that embodies social justice. As Tampke suggests, amongst the most daunting aspects of social justice is the curiosity about where to begin. While some in our community are more at ease to act on social justice, how might the rest of us take their lead without leaning into social loafing? We, too, want to transform yet struggle to fully act.

We do not, however, struggle to use social media. Recently, during a Chicago Ideas Week presentation, my Quinlan Business Honors Research Practicum students experienced a Q&A with Ted Leonis, who in no uncertain terms described Facebook to be like oxygen. Social media follows us, and with pure reciprocity, we follow it right back. As such, reflecting through an online tool holds potential for both access and contemplation about social justice. Might social media interactions lead to an intermission that allows reflections about social justice?

Social media is not unchartered territory in terms of its overlap with social justice concerns. An unending list of global events have been initiated, discovered, and reported through the interconnectivity social media offers to users. The role of the citizen journalist is also not novel within a landscape of tools that allow for blogging, microblogging, photosharing, and GIS tracking.

What is novel and allows for needed interference in our daily routines is recognizing social media’s potential for reflection about social justice. How we overlap social media with social justice in the Ignatian tradition of reflection remains a nascent opportunity. We know social media is used in classrooms, and we know that reflection should be on everyone’s to do lists.

What we do not know is if reflecting about social justice via social media offers another way to integrate Ignatian heritage into our daily lives. Instead of tweeting, snapping, and gramming the explicit, manifest images of our daily existences – what we ate #nom and how we wore it #ootd – we might use social media to spark virtual, reflective discussions.

Seemingly, there is willingness within the student population. I asked my MARK201 Fundamentals of Marketing Writing Intensive students to reflect on how to use social media to reflect on social justice. Ignatian Heritage Month (#IHMLoyolaChicago) served as the catalyst. Per one student team, “We need a “magnifying glass” to actually understand the different aspects within social justice, and how they come together.” Further, students suggested that,

“When we think about social media it is most important to realize that there are no fees or dues to be a member. The democratic aspect of social media makes this medium available for every person. There is no limitation of age, sex, income, or sexuality when it comes to being able to share your opinion and voice on social media. Even the interface is simple: type, push a button, post. Your idea is shared with millions. With so many individuals each having unique opinions and experiences, these social media channels have become a place for social advocacy and idea sharing to truly grow. We can use social media to promote and bring awareness to Ignatian Heritage Month through sharing its ideas and messages through our posts and tweets. A lot of students and readers may not know everything about Ignatian Heritage Month but using a social medium that they are comfortable.”

“The use of twitter and hashtags makes it easy to interact with other users who are talking about the same, or similar topics. For example, students are very social media savvy and are more likely and more able to engage than any other demographic. Even people who don’t have twitter, such a large population of universities have social media, and access to it, it’s not an “access” problem. The only reason people wouldn’t engage would be that they don’t connect, or feel that the questions or topics ‘speak’ to them.”

Reflection occurred too in terms of balanced access amongst potential social media users. I constantly remind my students that the best marketers are those who do not only target segments like them. Reflect with empathy about the needs of other segments and accordingly adjust offerings. As such, they recognize the differences amongst those around them:

“Not everyone is as social media savvy as the technology forward millennials of today. Not everyone’s voice is heard in this new language that has become so prominent today. While the most recent generations are the future, the older generations are still a part of the present, and in a way, they haven’t been as included in some crucial conversations and awareness that have been relevant today, just due to the technology barrier. Social media has become staples in these recent generations’ lives. A day without Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram is unheard of with this youth. While social media has made information so much more immediately available, it hasn’t been the picture of supreme social justice.”

So, to recognize Ignatian Heritage Month, my students will attempt to represent reflection via #IHMLoyolaChicago. Posting questions like those below embody potential to spark an online community to pause and in, 140 characters reflect.

Questions generated by the students include:

What can you do to help love grow in society and affect social change? #howloveworks #IHMLoyolaChicago #m201

What does IHM mean? #IHMLoyolaChicago #m201
How does the mission of St. Ignatius overlap with social justice? #IHMLoyolaChicago #m201

What social justice means to you? #IHMLoyolaChicago #m201

How can we use our knowledge of social media for IHM? #IHMLoyolaChicago #m201

We are going to tweet throughout November and invite others to join us in this action of reflection. What will you contribute to #IHMLoyolaChicago?

Loyola University Chicago's Social Justice Web Portal is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. Comments will be screened for tone and content. All comments must include the first and last name of the author and a valid e-mail address. The appearance of comments on the Web Portal does not imply the University's endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.

4 Responses

  1. avatar Vini Guerra says:

    “Instead of tweeting, snapping, and gramming the explicit, manifest images of our daily existences – what we ate #nom and how we wore it #ootd – we might use social media to spark virtual, reflective discussions.”

    I completely agree that we, as social media users, should strive to share relevant more relevant content, rather than pure meaningless media. One way to start this change would be by reflecting on what the message shared is trying to convey. It might sound too idealistic, yet by putting into practice actions such as the one mentioned above, we could have a greater impact in raising awareness thus promoting social justice.

  2. avatar Jagger Kroener says:

    I think this article makes a great point in that social media seems to always be pushing something. From showing off to one’s friends and achieving social status, to companies marketing products using social media, it seems to have a motive behind each post.

    It’s nice to take a step back and use social media to promote ideas that help others. Social media is very influential, so I believe using it to spread the word of social justice is great.

  3. avatar Hanna Sutton says:

    Interesting to have a marketing class comment on the subject of social justice. Really shows that social justice is so applicable even to the business world. In a dynamic and fast-paced society, IHM helps us re-focus on the importance of social justice in all facets of business and workplaces.

  4. Social media usage can be the future of the classroom. I have seen it blossom first hand in the MARK201 course mentioned above. My Professor, Stacy Neier, has incorporated the use of “hashtags” and live “live-tweeting” as a mechanism that engages the class.

    The beauty of using Twitter in the classroom is that it has observable data and metrics. Students can connect with their peers and offer constructive criticism without interrupting the actual substance of the class. As an added bonus, students our age simply enjoy using social media platforms, especially Twitter, which can only lead to more course engagement.

    I believe that within a couple years, social media will be heavily incorporated into the college classroom.