Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dave Wentzel - How can the humanities help illuminate the mixed blessing of social media that permeates the lives of most Minnesotans?

Dave Wentzel is an Army National Guard Veteran from Mankato and a 2014 recipient of the Veterans’ Voices Award. He has worked to significantly improve the lives of Minnesota’s Veterans. Through his Wounded Warrior Program position with Congressman Tim Walz’s office, Wentzel has become a strong advocate at the local, state, and federal level for Veterans’ affairs and awareness of their mental health issues as a Veterans Constituent Advocate.

Social media has become pivotal in our interpersonal relationships and communication. As a medium for emotional response, it has led, in some cases, to miscommunication and uncivil discourse. By relying on social media for communication, some believe that we are losing our physical and emotional interaction with each other, which is a pillar of our being. The human connection is something that we all need and crave.

The issue of social media and humanities could not come at a better time in my life. I am working on a group project called Keep it Civil Minnesota, with the Hubert H. Humphrey Policy Fellows Program. I, along with four other Minnesotans, have been laying the groundwork for a project to bring civility to the Minnesota State Legislature. We believe that civil discourse is a necessity in today’s political realm. Unfortunately, social media has been used to undermine civility in an effort to instantaneously message to the media, and the voters. My group believes that an open dialogue of civility will go a long way at the state capitol. For example, legislators are invited to pair up with a colleague from the other side of the aisle and from another part of Minnesota to undertake tasks together. Once these tasks are completed legislators are then recognized via social media for completing the Keep It Civil MN Challenge.

Our elected officials represent the best of Minnesota. They should hold themselves to the high standards required of an elected office-holder when working with their colleagues to make a better Minnesota.

Whether you are an elected official or not, we all can utilize the humanities to help us better use social media as a platform for promoting the civic good and compelling people to positive change instead of stifling them with harsh words and ideas. Our differences are what empower us as Minnesotans, Americans, and human beings. Our connections solidify us and diversify us as a people.

1 comment:

  1. A surprise at the end: Differences empower, Connections diversify. First reaction: he got them backwards. Further reflection: right-on!