For example, I often assign Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," which is a deeply disturbing short story. Knowing that most of the class probably didn't read the story, I always have them listen to an audio version of the story and answer questions as they listen in class. When the last line of the story--which is like a punch in the gut--is read, I love to watch their faces to see which ones didn't read the story the night before and it sinks in that this lottery is not one that involves choosing the correct numbers on your Powerball ticket and it is not one anybody really wants to win.
Thanks to the joys of social media, I've learned that there are a lot of people out there who aren't investing much time in critical reading or thinking outside of the classroom, either. Almost any piece of satire shared on Facebook has countless comments from people who took the article seriously. My most favorite example of this, though, comes about thanks to everybody's favorite punctuation--the hashtag.
It's no secret to long time readers of the blog that training is a big part of my life with Barley and Rye. We've spent countless hours doing reactive dog training, agility training, and basic manners training. I also take a lot of pictures of the pets during these sessions (because really what better way is there to practice a stay than to have to pose while I take 10,000 versions of the same picture). I don't use as many hashtags as most people do on Instagram, but occasionally an agility picture will turn out better than expected or we'll reach a reactive dog training goal and I'll add in #training to the post. Like this one:
One day over the summer, I noticed that I was getting a lot of people with fitness-related handles or profile pictures of people lifting weights or doing kickboxing liking my posts and following my account. I was a little confused because the majority of my Instagram posts are books, beers, a sleeping cat, a sleeping dog, a dog with a toy, a dog with a treat--not necessarily things that suggest I spend a lot of time in the gym. But I know that a lot of fit people love dogs, so I just figured they must have needed a break from fitness posts and searched for dog-related posts.
Then I posted this picture.
Someone commented on it with an invitation to try out a Crossfit gym if I was in Arizona because I would find a lot of people just like me. While I try to reply to every comment, I had no response to that. Crossfit is pretty much the last type of physical activity I want to do, so I'm pretty sure that I would find people I had very little in common with there (although I appreciate the invitation--but if I change my mind, I'll check out the gym in the plaza with our agility gym instead of going to AZ).
After a second of confusion, I realized that #training must be the reason all of these healthy people were following me and liking my pictures. I'm relatively certain that particular Instagram user never looked at the picture and certainly didn't read the caption (because as the caption states I'm almost as far from AZ as you can get). It made me wonder how often this happens to other people. These are real accounts with real posts--not just spammers or scams to get more followers--so I wonder if they realize these #training posts aren't exactly what they thought they'd be seeing when they search through them. Every single time it happens, it makes me chuckle, so I hope that these bodybuilders and soul cyclers keep finding us--but I also hope they genuinely like Barley and Rye and aren't just liking any picture with #training because my girls are definitely worth liking!
Have you ever had surprising accounts find your Instagram posts? (On a semi-related note, recently a former contestant from the Bachelor liked one of my dog pictures--that made me laugh, too!)