Prior to early 2018, my twitter timeline was 100% and without question dedicated to my career as an educator/edtech leader…or whatever people thought of me back then. It was the source of my “disruptor of ridiculousness” jabs at the status quo of edtech, education and everything in between. When I traveled and met people, it was through the camaraderie of twitter that we built relationships, partnerships and collaborations to be shared with fellow connected educators worldwide.
Over the years, I’ve led countless sessions and discussions about what it meant to be a connected educator. For many of us, twitter and other apps over the years became not just a lifeline to the outside world beyond our city/state/country limits but also a bridge to ideas that we would not have access to otherwise.
On the flip side, being a connected educator also brought its share of grievances, especially as a black educator who most often talked openly about the lack of diversity and equity in edtech and education.
The backlash that I received from peers as a person with a following cannot be understated. I was told many times that I talked about race too much and to tone it down or was asked to delete tweets that could look bad on the district, even as unrelated complaints about education…just because of perception.
…then there was the time that I was written up for sharing an article written by Ta-Nehisi Coates because he used the “n word” in the article and me sharing that article didn’t look good for the district. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over this one as ironically, we were just discussing one of his books in a leadership meeting.
Twitter was great as long as what was being shared didn’t give the perception that anything was wrong in education or schools…even when so much was inequitable and wrong.
It still is.
This is what led me to late 2017 when I happened to see a video of BTS performing at the American Music Awards. I honestly didn’t think that much of the clip that I watched at that moment but it seemed that youtube had different ideas. Every time I logged into my account, I was met with a new official video or fan edited video to watch. (Thanks youtube algorithm!)
I felt joy. Pure joy.
…something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
As time progressed into 2018, so did the complaints about the tone of my twitter as well as complaints about the time of night that I tweeted. Yes, I was asked to tone down night tweets.
Simultaneously, I was also falling deeper and deeper into the BTS rabbit hole of content. By this time, I had joined their vlive channel, bought access to their Wings concert and 2 seasons of their travel show Bon Voyage and also started to watch Run BTS.
Eventually I found the courage to tweet openly about this band that I had fallen for just as my social media habits were being picked apart tweet by tweet.
For a while, I even tweeted about BTS in protest in lieu of tweeting about the many “botherings” in schools at the time.
If I wanted to tweet about something I hated like the scripted literacy programs that we were using…I tweeted about BTS instead.
If I wanted to tweet about how we were buying devices for an insane amount of testing and not for students’ creativity, collaboration and exploration…I tweeted about BTS instead.
When I wanted to share how innovation in schools was mostly really more of a snapshot of a small group instead of the vast majority…I tweeted about BTS instead.
They became my hidden language and lifeline to cope when times were hard, especially when times were hardest and I wasn’t allowed to speak the truth.
I just so happened to find them and their music… the comfort of it all… and then I just stuck around more as I became a part of the global community.
I will say that just as my start into the world of BTS began with a bit of defiance against my own realities, sticking around to enjoy their music out loud and work with our army community for their continued success has been one of the most healing experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing about how I got here.
The other day a friend questioned what potential employers or conference staff would think of me as they found my twitter account to be not about education but mostly BTS.
That question gave me pause.
To be honest, I’m not sure and in hindsight…maybe I should have thought about that a little bit more.
I do hope that they still see me as who I am…human.
I’m just a person who has established a career in a field that to be honest, can use a bit more joy sometimes. I’m also a person who channeled frustrations into a band that spoke to me through their music at a time when I needed it.
…and I still choose to share it as Rafranz, the educator and technology leader who is also a huge fan of the biggest band in the world.
(Feel free to replace “biggest band in the world” with your favorite sports team. We are the same)