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:

  1. Get on Twitter
  2. Become a follower of these 5 people @injectingadvice @overdosegirl @HarmReduction @INEF @AnaLiffey
  3. Just follow their tweets for a little while without saying anything (say a week) Trust me you will already be learning stuff
  4. 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.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Harm Reduction & Social Media: A little experiment”
  1. Thanks for the mention! I will say that the follow/lurk/engage method is possibly the best one because:

    Lurking (following and just reading) is a way to discover the ‘social rules’ of a system, my lovely wife lurked in chat rooms for over a month before engaging in conversation and so didn’t make the mistakes I did (I’ve always been a jump in with both feet kind of guy)

    Engaging, in a lot of peoples cases don’t be worried if on twitter someone doesn’t follow you back straight away. I’m my case I tend to only follow people who people suggest I would find interesting OR who engage me in conversation, this is SOCIAL media and it really comes into its one when conversations happen.

    Happy first birthday to the Stonetree 🙂

  2. stonetreeaus says:

    Thanks for your birthday wishes and the support and feedback you have provided this year Nigel. Here’s to a few more years of writing and developing a greater online presence for harm reduction.

  3. Brilliant blog site. Great stuff. The new Canadian Drug Policy Coalition that is about to be born in the next few weeks will certainly follow you and spread the harm reduction/social media word. Thanks for this. Donald

    • stonetreeaus says:

      Thanks for your kind words Donald. Please keep us informed of how the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition progresses. Does the coalition have a Twitter account. Would love to follow if/when it does.

  4. Thanks Matt for your experiment. So glad you began it and are continuing with it. I would only say that your slogan ‘harm reduction will be digitised’ speaks of the future, whereas I think your experiement shows that harm reduction *is* digitised, you just need to know where to look!

  5. stonetreeaus says:

    Hey Monica thanks! Couldn’t agree with you more regarding the slogan, however I was particularly enamoured with this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfJd0Q8HjPw&feature=related at the time that I started writing the blog, so for now the slogan will stay for poetic purposes only 🙂 Having said that I hoping to give the whole site a facelift next year so who knows…

  6. Oh yes I know that clip, awesome 🙂

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  1. […] 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 … Source: stonetreeaus.wordpress.com […]

  2. […] 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 … Source: stonetreeaus.wordpress.com […]



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