Monday, August 14, 2017

Social Media and Socialization

It's funny how we weigh the value of our online friends and acquaintances. Social media has become so ingrained in our daily lives, that it's a regular point of discussion how we should interact with others online, like which topics we should or should not publicly post. If it's ethical to post photos of other people online without their permission, including children. During the election, I saw dozens and dozens of Facebook posts from people who claimed they would block or un-friend anyone who posted anything in support of Trump. The rule that I have follow for my own social media management is "Does this person post things which contribute to my overall enjoyment?" If the person regularly writes things that are not interesting, or intentionally inflammatory, or go against my morals and ethics, then I simply unfollow that person. I have also used this logic to initiate or maintain online relationships. For example, there is a person on Facebook whom I knew only peripherally during high school, but she always posts links to articles that I love. The topics range from feminism and women's studies, child rearing, history, literature, pop culture. Anyone who has such a wide range of interests is someone I consider worth knowing.

One of her recent posts was an article discussing the recent exhumation of several bodies from the burying ground from an old Carlisle school. The remains of the three Native American boys are being returned to their tribe so that they can be honored and the proper ceremonies can be performed.

When I was earning my Master's in history, I took a course about gender and sexuality in Native American culture. I did my final paper on the Carlisle schools, so ever since I have tried to learn even more about the topic. Right now, I am making my way through a book about football legend Jim Thorpe.

I admit that I didn't even know he was until I visited the Football Hall of Fame a few years ago. The section dedicated to Thorpe is the one thing I remember, since I'm really not into football at all. It was there that I first learned about one of the most amazing athletes in American history; Thorpe is known for football, but he also played professional baseball and basketball and won Olympic gold medals in the  pentathlon and decathlon. He was the first Native American athlete to win a gold medal. 

His athletic abilities were first noticed at the Carlisle school he attended as a teen. He excelled in track and field, lacrosse, baseball, and even ballroom dancing, winning an intercollegiate dance competition in 1912.

Therefore, when I saw that there was a new book about this amazing man last year, I knew I wanted to purchase it for the school library. Even though I don't have much of an interest in football, the history of it IS interesting. The history of pretty much anything is interesting. If we were to watch a football game according to the original rules and traditions, it would be pretty confusing. Apparently, it resembled rugby at its most organized, and resembled a free-for-all fight at its least organized. Pads (which would have been home-made) were rarely used. Instead of helmets, the players simply grew their hair long-ish during the season to provide a minimal amount of cushioning to their heads; the lack of protection almost led to the Carlisle schools banning the sport since so many students were receiving serious head injuries.

The book is good for readers interested in football because it provides a good history of the sport and discusses plays and introduces readers to the early players and coaches that they might not know about. The book also illustrates the 19th century viewpoint of the "Indian problem" by stating the Carlisle schools' approaches to assimilating the Native Americans to white society. It describes how the schools chose new Christian names for the students, changed their hairstyles (often cutting the males' hair), forbade them from speaking their native languages and forced them to adopt Western clothing.

Tom Torlino, a Navajo, photographed upon his 
admission to the school and three years afterwards

Not every student may be motivated enough to read the entire book, but certainly portions of the text would be useful for a variety of content areas ranging from history and social studies to Language Arts (writing biographies) and of course  Physical Education.

It kind of makes sense that my Facebook friend, who displays such a diverse range of interests and and passions, would post an article related to a historical figure who exhibited such a range of talents.

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