I’ve had the privilege to become involved with the Social Network Show: a groundbreaking radio show and online forum about best practices in social networking, including safety for girls and women. This is truly an amazing show—I have already learned so much in the few weeks I have been listening to it. The show’s guests are knowledgeable and fun to listen to, and I guarantee you will gain valuable wisdom about interacting safely online: how cyberbullies operate, what protections do and don’t currently exist in social networks, and what we need to do to move forward. This, my friends, is the new frontier—and the Social Network Show is on the cutting edge of it.
The Social Network Show (broadcast from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas) is a part of the Social Network Station, founded in 2011 by CEO Jim Nico. Jim is a warm, generous man whose concern for women has shaped the show’s mission. He worked for 20 years as a crisis intervention counselor, answering distress calls and helping to prevent suicides. Jim is doing this vital work in a new way, as he brings thought leaders onto the show who can discuss the connection between cyberbullying and suicide, and how we need to change our online spaces to make them safer. Jim co-hosts the show, bringing his intelligence, wit, and insightful ideas to every discussion.
Dr. Jane Karwoski, host of the show, draws on her expertise as an experimental psychologist to present her guests with fascinating material for consideration and to ask them insightful questions. Dr. J. is interested in building online communities and understanding the issues at play—she creates an atmosphere of collegial, intellectual discussion that is absolutely necessary to both understanding and change. She often mentions the ways in which women’s rights enter into the equation, posing the question of just how far we have really come.
Recent episodes include discussions with Nina Burleigh, author of The Fatal Gift of Beauty, who talks about the suicide of Audrie Pott (a cyberbullying victim who committed suicide) and Sandy Garossino of the Red Hood Project, a movement for consumer protection for children online. The show has also featured feminist activist and author Trista Hendren (a member of the Social Network Station board of advisers), Dr. Joseph Ulatowski (a philosopher and expert in online behavior), and Jayne Hitchcock, an expert in cyberbullying and cybercrime.
Every time I listen to a show, I find myself furiously taking notes and then going to websites like uknowkids and the Safe Online Outreach Society (SOLOS)—both recommended by Sandy Garossino. I also find myself grieving the loss of children whose names I might have heard but whose lives and deaths I wasn’t fully familiar with—and renewing my sense of purpose about changing our digital landscape.
The Social Network Show has a strong online presence, including a blog that operates as a forum for discussion about online safety. The blog includes a regular interview series entitled “Social Networks: The Good, the Bad, and the Horrifying” that allows feminists and thought leaders to weigh in on questions about women and social media. The latest interview is by Cathy Brennan, a radical feminist activist; the series has also included my own interview and those by Jayne Hitchcock, Melissa Flaherty (an administrator for Rapebook, which cataloged images promoting rape on Facebook), and 11-year-old activist Aaliyah Gohir. The blog also includes valuable news about the current state of safety—or absolute lack of it—on social networks, such as a new revenge porn law and Facebook’s tolerance of beheading images.
This is serious stuff—and many people don’t realize what’s out there. Tuning in to the Social Network Station and reading the blog will help you stay informed, and more: it will connect you to with a community of people who are trying to leverage the good in social media while asking the hard questions about what it means to confront its dangers. I hope you will become a part of the community—tune in, write a review, and leave your thoughts on the blog. This is a movement that needs national attention, for it affects the mental and physical health of our children: in many cases, their lives depend on it.