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What's my role and what can I do?

Citizenship

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Overview

The SEL activities in this theme provide learners with an opportunity to understand how they can influence the outcome of a situation and who the main players are in a given group situation. There are opportunities to understand why it’s important to consider your actions and how you can exit a situation if things get out of hand.

The Media analysis unit provided opportunities to examine examples of online hate with the objective of making timely and decisive positive decisions based on the evidence at hand and the individual’s prevailing emotions.

The Media production unit provided an opportunity to consider the use of humour to defuse a situation. Learners were encouraged to create a humorous meme that they could use in response to a given scenario to de-escalate the situation.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.

  • Can you give an example of a situation (online or offline) where you said/did something that made a situation better? Why did the situation improve?
  • Can you give an example of a situation (online or offline) where you said/did something that made a situation worse? Why did the situation worsen?
  • Have you ever used humour to deal with a tricky situation?
    • If so, how?
    • Why do you think using humour might be a good strategy in some situations?
  • If you were to receive hateful/offensive comments online, would you respond?
    • How?
    • If you wouldn’t respond, why?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know how to respond?

Main Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

Background

In 2013, the UK based charity Childline released an app to support young people that were receiving requests for sexual images from other young people. Sexting (also commonly referred to as youth produced sexual imagery) continues to be a challenge for many young people. However the Zipit app is one of a very small number of pragmatic resources that can help. The Zipit app provides the requestee with a series of funny memes they can select from to send back to the requester. This aims to provide the requestee with something to share, that is not a sexual image, and by using humour attempts to defuse the situation.

The benefits of this approach are numerous. Firstly, it provides a “shield” for a young person; they do not have to respond with messages/follow up questions, they can respond positively by just sending back memes and animated gifs until the requester backs off. Secondly, it empowers young people to say no/decline consent without having to use the word “no” - this is particularly useful in situations where the person exerting the pressure is someone they may have strong positive regard for. Thirdly, even if the approach doesn’t stop unwanted contact, it is useful in creating some space and time for a young person to consider other routes to solving their problem (e.g. seeking help from a friend/trusted adult, investigating how to block/report a user, etc.). Finally, it demonstrates the effective use of humour to either nudge a conversation back into acceptable territory, or to quickly disarm the person exerting pressure.

These principles can also be applied to online hate scenarios and the purpose of this activity is to help learners understand that humour can be a highly effective way to defuse and counter hate speech situations.

They will produce a range of memes that can be shared wider in the community providing other learners with ways to counter hate speech.

Explain the Zipit app to the group of learners.

Share the app screenshots from the slides and discuss some of these. There are some funny gifsfrom illustrator Igor Bastidas too as part of this work.

(Alternatively, you may wish to allow learners time to download the app on their device and explore the available memes and images. The app is available on both iOS and Android app stores.)

Explain how different memes might be used to achieve different results (e.g. to firmly say “no”, to change the topic of conversation, to send hints as to how someone is feeling, etc.).

In the slides, play the Zipit quiz to show learners how one image can be used to create a number of different memes that give the same message or use humour to subvert a situation or request.

Explain that the purpose of this session is to create a set of memes that can be shared with other learners which they can use to defuse a hate speech scenario.

Present the following situations and ask learners to create a meme to respond to each:

  1. Hateful comments on one (or more) protected characteristics aimed at you.
  2. Hateful comments on one (or more) protected characteristics aimed at someone you know.
  3. Hateful comments on one (or more) protected characteristics aimed at someone you don’t know.
  4. Hateful comments aimed at a group.
  5. Statements that hugely exaggerate the negative qualities of a person/group.

As a group, share the memes produced. Discuss some of the common themes within the memes (e.g. use of language, jokes/puns, etc.). It is useful to take this opportunity to establish some foundations of a shared counter-narrative; for example, agreeing some words or phrases that learners should try to use in their responses.

Call to action

The group needs to consider ways in which they can get the meme bank noticed in their school or community. Encourage them to consider ways of disseminating information about their counter narrative memes and how they could advise others about how to use these memes successfully and supportively (e.g. if you see someone use a meme from the meme bank online, share another meme to add weight to the counter narrative).

Tasks

Each learner to produce at least one meme to contribute to a “bank” of memes available.

Adult leader to collect memes. If possible, the adult should work in partnership with the learners to agree a way to more widely disseminate the memes. This could be: a wall display, an app or website, a social media account that just has these memes, a shared computer space.

The learners should lead this work, supported by the adult. Encourage the learners to reflect upon their meme bank and consider the following:

  • Would my memes improve a situation?
  • Am I confident that my memes would not cause harm?
  • Do my memes share the tone and approach of others in the meme bank?
  • Do my memes use any words/phrases that my group have agreed in a shared counter narrative?

Outcome Criteria

  • Engage in collective efforts to challenge a hate speech situation.
  • Draw upon and strategically use online tools and user-generated resources.

Resources

Engage in collective efforts to challenge a hate speech situation. Draw upon and strategically use online tools and user-generated resources.

Resource

Meaningful memes

Creating a resource bank of memes that can be used by individuals to respond to online hate.

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Resource

Memes med mening

Creating a resource bank of memes that can be used by individuals to respond to online hate.

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Resource

Aussagekräftige Memes

Creating a resource bank of memes that can be used by individuals to respond to online hate.

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Resource

Meme με νόημα

Creating a resource bank of memes that can be used by individuals to respond to online hate.

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