Here’s why I love social media…!

The students are standing in a group,, some of them are laughing, looking up and holding their hands up in the air waiting for the balloons to fall down. There only four of them in the air and four of them on the floor.

On 30 June every year international Social Media Day recognises and celebrates social media’s impact on the world of global communication. Today we hear from our very own Digital Media Officer Bik Lee, who talks about the importance of social media, accessibility and inclusion.

 

“It’s hard to imagine a life without social media right? I mean, how would you get through the day without watching cute cat videos, knowing what your friends have eaten for lunch or what they think about British politics…?!

As the Digital Media Officer at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), some people think that my job is just sitting on Facebook all day and sending a couple of tweets but it’s actually a little more than that. As part of the marketing and student recruitment team at RNC the way we promote the College has drastically changed in the last few years, and the recent advancement of social media is one of the reasons why.

 

It’s such a life changing decision for our students to decide that they want to come and study at a residential college like RNC, not just for them but for their families too. Our aim is to encourage young people and their families to come to RNC for a campus tour and the place pretty much sells itself. We have amazing facilities and our students and staff are always on hand to answer any questions and we hope that following their tour, young people apply to study here. The application process can be anywhere from a few months to a few years so looking at the RNC social media pages gives them regular updates on what our students get up to and what life is like at the College. It’s also a great way for the families of our current students to see the achievements and progression that they are making with us.

 

Personally, what I love about social media is how it brings people together; it’s a way of sharing experiences, cultures and stories. Being a part of social media means that you can connect with people no matter who you are, where you live or what you do. Everyone is on an equal playing field and for our students, if they want to join in conversations they have the choice as to whether or not they want to reveal their visual impairment. They’re not automatically going to be excluded because they’re ‘different’.

 

I’ve been the Digital Media Officer here at RNC for over three years now and meeting the students before they start and seeing their journeys, how much they grow in confidence and independence, is so rewarding. I can think of so many things that I am proud of at the College and I can think of so many social media posts that I could share with you right now but one of the best things for me was in May 2017, an online campaign for mental health awareness week was launched. Mental health has always been a taboo subject which people are almost too embarrassed to talk about but the amount of students and staff who got involved in all the activities at the college was incredible. I specifically spoke to some students about their personal battles and they bravely shared their stories in the form of blogs. Before social media and the invention of blogs people would never have had this vehicle to share some of their deepest and most personal thoughts. Our students talked about their experiences living through eating disorders, bipolar, anxiety, depression and coming to terms with sight loss. I like to think that, having read these blogs, at least one person out there feels better and less alone knowing that they are not the only ones suffering with a mental health condition.

 

I wanted to end this blog on a fun note, and one of the best things about my job is that I go around with a camera taking photos of our students on campus for social media. On the first Wednesday of November we celebrate Wobbly Wednesday to raise awareness for the eye condition known as Nystagmus which is one of those rare eye conditions. But the great thing about rare eye conditions is that you come to RNC and meet people who have the same eye condition as you and it suddenly feels normal to be one of a third of RNC students that has nystagmus and your visual impairment no longer becomes the thing that defines you.

So back to Wobbly Wednesday 2016, I sent an email out to all students who have nystagmus and asked them to meet me for a ’photo shoot’, arranged for 50 blown up nystagmus balloons to be dropped from the balcony above. I gave the signal for the balloons to be released but that day happened to be pretty windy… It was if it was in slow motion that these balloons fell one at a time and took about 10 seconds to reach the students standing below, that is if they hadn’t already blown away in the wrong direction! Cue my group of students standing there laughing their heads off and watching me frantically running around picking up balloons out of bushes and trees! Anyway, my point here being I got some awesome shots of the students laughing and having fun and instead of being stored on a computer in an office somewhere, by the power of social media I can share this photo again and again!”

 

If you want to know more about studying at RNC, call our student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

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Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC