Twitter has been my go-to social media platform for many years. The doors that have opened for me thanks to relationships built through Twitter have taken me from my health office to the halls of Congress, to co-authored Op-Eds in Time, Newsweek, USA Today, to Current Trauma Reports, Harvard Law, and a lecture hall at University of Pennsylvania Nursing School where I spoke at the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 Town Hall. I am sure that my use of Twitter as part of my school nursing practice was a factor in being inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academy of School Nursing. I speak often about advocacy and cite Twitter as an example of how to amplify our school nursing voices on a wide platform to educate the public.
Now I am sitting in an in-between space on Twitter, not sure what my next steps will be. Much depends on what happens in the coming weeks as Elon Musk restores Twitter accounts for those who were permanently suspended for hate speech and inciting violence. As a fierce advocate of reclaiming safe spaces, how can I support this move? I am not alone in this moral dilemma. Twitter friends are grappling with the same decision, to stay or go in light of what is happening.
The rise of hate in our country and around the world is at the heart of what is most disturbing. I recently published: The Relentless School Nurse: Road Rage Has Come Out From Behind the Wheel. It is unthinkable that this much violence and hate is running rampant, but here we are, on the heels of one of the most deadly years on record for gun violence. We have had 614 mass shootings according to Gun Violence Archives as of November 27, 2022. To date 2021 holds the record for the most violent year with 690 mass shootings. It is important to share this data because we cannot look away.
No matter what happens with Twitter, I will find a way to counterbalance the hate with hope and continue to work to bring evidence-based solutions to the public health epidemic of gun violence. I am part of a large network of public health professionals who are working collaboratively, with much credit to Twitter for the connections, to advocate, research, teach and learn about the root causes of violence with a collective goal of reclaiming safety in our communities, schools, homes and public spaces. What drives me is a promise I made to my sister and niece in the aftermath of Parkland, that I would do everything in my power as a school nurse to help solve the public health emergency of gun violence in schools.
Beyond those children and teens killed and injured in school shootings, there are hundreds of thousands of students impacted by gun violence. The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox and his colleagues are devoted to tracking the number of students who have been exposed to gun violence in schools since Columbine in 1999. That number, as of November 22, 2022, is now more than 323,000…
I will be on high alert for what happens to Twitter over the next few weeks and make a decision on whether to stay or go. No matter what, the work continues, because it is needed now more than ever. In the meantime, I am grateful for every person that I was able to meet through this adventure in social media, many of whom I have met in real life. Those connections will continue, and I know for sure because we share a collective goal of reclaiming safety for our children’s present and future.