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Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations
Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations

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4.2 Changing the conversation

‘Social media especially. It’s the worse for it. It’s just slabbering [being provocative or insulting].’

(Boy 1, the Shankill)

‘You get people that put up videos of the riots and all. Say one side would be like aye with tricolours [Irish flag]. And then the other side would be Union Jacks [British Flag]. People like put up videos people of throwing bricks and putting in car windows and all that stuff.’

(Boy 2, the Shankill)

Social media can be a hateful space. This is something the boys in the Shankill talked about a lot. Offensive language can also be really hurtful to experience, and it can be tempting to use this language yourself whether to goad someone you are angry with or in retaliation when there are issues you feel strongly about. So how can you change the conversation?

Activity 11: Using your head on social media

Timing: 20 minutes

Watch Video 4, with another one of the March for our lives founders Cameron Kansky reflecting on what he has learned in 2021. Take notes as you listen to what he is saying.

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Video 4: Cameron Kansky’s reflection on the March for our lives
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  • a.What struck you most from listening to Cameron?
  • b.Write down three key lessons Cameron learned?
  • c.Are there any situations you can think of in your lives where you can apply his advice?
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Cameron had lots of useful advice from his experience. Different things he said may have been meaningful to each of you depending on your own situation. Some examples are outlined in the top tips at the end of this section.

Cameron describes both his experience of being the target for hate speech and also some of the consequences of using negative, hateful or derogatory talk whether online or in person. As you heard in Cameron’s film, making other people feel bad is not just disrespectful. It can also be a barrier to solving problems, especially around contested issues where people strongly disagree. If instead you try to see and connect with others as human beings, are open to others’ points of views and to learning from others, you may be able to build create a space for people to talk and for real change to happen.

Cameron’s tips for talking to people you disagree with

  • Social media exists to supplement but not replace human connection.
  • Don’t become part of the problem. (Try instead to be part of the solution.)
  • Break down the walls – it’s important to look at people we disagree with as other human beings. Approach everybody like they are part of the same world you are.
  • Come from the place you want to learn.
  • You learn the most from people who disagree with you.
  • Aim to lift someone up, not knock them down. Disagree with the issue not the person.
  • Be open to changing your mind.