Harm Reduction & Social Media: A little experiment
This week marks one year since I posted my first blog article to the current incarnation of the Stonetree Harm Reduction blog. I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on the experience of writing about social media, drugs and harm reduction.
Okay so I think the experiment has gotten out of the lab! Stonetree initally began as an experiment, a place for me to play with technology and undertake some experiential learning. One year later with 63 blog posts written, over 4, 500 page visits and a growing network of social media accounts, I can say that I have learned much, much more than I expected and also have had the opportunity to meet some of the finest harm reduction peeps from across the globe (well meet them virtually anyway).
The experience has enriched my understanding of both harm reduction and social media and enabled me to talk about the issues that I feel strongly about. It has also led to some unexpected opportunities both professionally and personally.
Personal Learning Networks and Harm Reduction
In many ways my experience of the last year is a personal vindication of the views that I have expressed in many of the blog articles that I have published since Stonetree’s inception. Social media avails people who work in the alcohol and other drugs/harm reduction sectors with the opportunity to broaden our personal learning networks and enhance our self directed life long learning. In a sector that is often marginalised by the mainstream, subject to continuous changes and that often struggles to bridge the gap between research and practice, this can only be a truly great opportunity. If you are a harm reductionist and you’re not sure what I mean about social media contributing to your lifelong learning try this little experiment:
- Get on Twitter
- Become a follower of these 5 people @injectingadvice @overdosegirl @HarmReduction @INEF @AnaLiffey
- Just follow their tweets for a little while without saying anything (say a week) Trust me you will already be learning stuff
- Say something. Tell them who you are and what you are doing there, you will learn a hell of a lot more. That was my experience anyway.
Social Media: Taking back the means of media production
Social media has also given passionate harm reductionists the opportunity to take back control of the message, to advocate on behalf of a group of people within our society who have often been subject to policies, practices and attitudes grounded in moral perspectives, political pragmatism and/or social exclusion. Social media gives us back the means of media production enabling us to better:
- Provide factual information to people who use drugs
- Challenge stigmatising or dogmatic non evidence based perspectives
- Network, co-ordinate and share resources with like minded individuals and organisations
I hope that in some small measure Stonetree is achieving these goals.
Plans for the future
Not much is likely to change for the foreseeable future. I am going to continue the grand experiment and see what happens. Stonetree will be moving to it’s own domain at some stage next year, hopefully with a brand new look, but essentially the concept will remain the same: Harm Reduction will be digitised.