In this article, we would like to quote some salient parts of The Atlantic journalist Ian Bogost's article, which fully describe the spirit of our project. According to Ian Bogost, in his emblematic article entitled “The Age of Social Media Is Ending It never should have begun”, Social networks in the last twenty years have taken over. But instead of facilitating the modest use of existing connections—largely for offline life (to organize a birthday party, say) —social software turned those connections into a latent broadcast channel. All at once, billions of people saw themselves as celebrities, pundits, and tastemakers. (…) Actually, as the original name suggested, social networking involved connecting, not publishing LinkedIn promised to make job searching and business networking possible by traversing the connections of your connections. Friendster did so for personal relationships, Facebook for college mates, and so on. The whole idea of social networks was networking: building or deepening relationships, mostly with people you knew. That changed when social networking became social media. Instead of connection—forging latent ties to people and organizations we would mostly ignore—social media offered platforms through which people could publish content as widely as possible, well beyond their networks of immediate contacts. (…) The terms social network and social media are used interchangeably now, but they shouldn’t be. A social network is an idle, inactive system—a Rolodex of contacts, a notebook of sales targets, a yearbook of possible soul mates. But social media is active—hyperactive, really—spewing material across those networks instead of leaving them alone until needed. (…) The toxicity of social media makes it easy to forget how truly magical this innovation felt when it was new. From 2004 to 2009, you could join Facebook and everyone you’d ever known—including people you’d definitely lost track of—was right there, ready to connect or reconnect. The posts and photos I saw characterized my friends’ changing lives, not the conspiracy theories that their unhinged friends had shared with them (…) Social networks, once latent routes for possible contact, became superhighways of constant content (…) connection is no longer the central element. And the values associated with scale—reaching a lot of people easily and cheaply, and reaping the benefits—became appealing to everyone: a journalist earning reputational capital on Twitter; a 20-something seeking sponsorship on Instagram; a dissident spreading word of their cause on YouTube; an insurrectionist sowing rebellion on Facebook; an autopornographer selling sex, or its image, on OnlyFans; a self-styled guru hawking advice on LinkedIn. Social media showed that everyone has the potential to reach a massive audience at low cost and high gain—and that potential gave many people the impression that they deserve such an audience. The flip side of that coin also shines. On social media, everyone believes that anyone to whom they have access owes them an audience people just aren’t meant to talk to one another this much. They shouldn’t have that much to say, they shouldn’t expect to receive such a large audience for that expression, and they shouldn’t suppose a right to comment or rejoinder for every thought or notion either. From being asked to review every product you buy to believing that every tweet or Instagram image warrants likes or comments or follows, social media produced a positively unhinged, sociopathic rendition of human sociality. (…) Something may yet survive the fire that would burn it down: social networks, the services’ overlooked, molten core. It was never a terrible idea, at least, to use computers to connect to one another on occasion, for justified reasons, and in moderation (although the risk of instrumentalizing one another was present from the outset). The problem came from doing so all the time, as a lifestyle, an aspiration, an obsession. (…) We cannot make social media good, because it is fundamentally bad, deep in its very structure. All we can do is hope that it withers away, and play our small part in helping abandon it. Read the full article HERE https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/11/twitter-facebook-social-media-decline/672074/
TV news is still the main source of information for most European citizens, however social media, and in particular Facebook, are increasingly used as points of access to news.
The fact that millions of citizens inform themselves on social media is not exactly a reassuring fact, considering the lack of transparency in the way in which news is distributed on social media and the reliability of the sources of information.
The risk of getting information on social media is that one may not obtain an objective and complete vision of the events and of being exposed to misleading news because they’re not well contextualized or even to fake news, that is completely groundless news.
As a result, public opinion is increasingly polarized on opposing positions that are irreconcilable with the effect of making our societies more fragmented and our democracies more fragile.
For this reason, the platform of the “OFFLINE” project, in addition to courses to improve the ability to inform oneself critically through online sources outside of social media, provides a special section that collects reliable and accredited online sources of information and many quality cultural resources in the languages of the project. Browse it now from here!
The OFFLINE OER platform is now online in five languages at https://www.offlineproject.eu/, providing specific info on project aims, activities and results. The Platform will contain all the Project information, deliverables and results. OFFLINE's General Objective is to contribute to making the world wide web and social channels a place that promotes culture, correct information and critical, constructive and dialoguing thinking. Offline aims at: Reducing the time spent on social media by promoting a more correct navigation. Developing among adults an aptitude and a culture of correct information through, for example, digital newspapers or magazines or other accredited sources. Offline is designed to work towards SMART OUTCOMES: Increase digital culture among adults. Guide adults towards correct navigation, in particular towards more cultural content. Develop an attitude and a culture of correct information among adults through, for example, newspapers or digital magazines or other accredited sources. Develop basic and transversal skills among adults, such as digital skills and multilingualism. Decrease connection time in social media. The accessible and user-friendly Platform has been built by the Spanish partner, IWS (Internet Web Solutions) and will be constantly updated by the partnership as a whole during the project implementation. OFFLINE OER Platform is available in five languages (English, Spanish, Romanian, Italian and Finnish) and is composed of the following sections freely available to all navigators. PROJECT: describes the main Project objectives and results. PARTNERS: describes the Partners involved in the OFFLINE Project. MAPPING: summarised the mapping of free cultural resources and creativity tools already available online in each partner country. VADEMECUM: It will be a user-friendly and "attractive" guide containing a handbook of notions and tips for getting out of social media. TRAINING: series of courses and micro-learning fiches developed taking into account the target group's specific needs. NEWS: to remain always updated with OFFLINE latest developments COMMUNITY: to involve as many Associated Partners as possible and spread the word about OFF-LINE is managed by seven partners from five countries, i.e. Romania, Italy, Finland, Spain and Belgium, and is co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission.
On April 20th, 2022, the consortium joined the Kick-Off Meeting of the OFF-LINE project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus Plus Program of the European Commission and brings together 7 Partners from 5 countries (Italy, Belgium, Spain, Finland and Romania). The KOM was held in online mode. Whilst nearly 60% of the world’s population is already online, the latest trends suggest that more than half of the world’s total population will use social media by mid-2022 (Hootsuite, 2020). However, this should not be acclaimed as a success, if we consider social media’s hidden pitfalls and dangers, such as data privacy violations and fake news. It is, indeed, no coincidence that the world’s average IQ started lowering since 2009. In order to contrast this not-so-pleasant scenario, the “OFF-Line: how to quit social media” project aims at contributing to transform the digital world in a place that promotes culture, correct informations and the development of a constructive and critical thinking. The specific objectives will therefore be reducing the time spent on social media by promoting a more correct and virtuous navigation, and develop a culture of correct information among adults, through digital newspapers or magazines or other accredited source. During the meeting, the consortium discussed about the overall project implementation schedule, defining timelines and respective duties. During the first phase, partners will carry out primary research of media and online resources aimed at fostering interest in cultural and online media activities that promote the development of critical thinking. The results will help partners develop tailored training courses and tools to be uploaded on the OFF-LINE OER platform, along with other project’s outputs, news and contacts that will be available on the OFF-LINE project website for individual users, VET centres and policy makers.