Every week when I’m given a new topic to digest, I stop and think…wow–what a time to be a teacher. I feel like there are so many new issues to consider and topics to digest. Maybe it’s not just my generation of educators. Maybe over the years, teaching has always been like this, and I’m just walking into it. Regardless, I feel like there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to educating students in our world today. So little of education is black and white and it’s in a constant state of evolution. It’s time for me to once again, evaluate my morals, consider my future students, and launch into a land of existential thought. In the process I will spew some words, figure out what I think the best answer is, and hopefully not offend anyone when it’s all said and done.
I read this week that “we’re connected by a community of interest, not geography”. The internet has allowed us to connect on a global level. It’s easier to find people that share your interests, and band together. This can be finding other people that share your obscure hobby. It can also be finding people who share your social beliefs. You can find activists that share your cause, and support them if so desired. Growing up in an area where my social beliefs were in the minority, I can attest to how helpful the internet can be. It makes you feel less alone. The affirmation that others see the world how you do is comforting.
Now, as naïve as I might sound right now, I realize the internet isn’t all flowers, fluff, and empowerment. I can go on Facebook at any given movement, and activism is on full blast from every person that represents every facet of our society. If I ever dare enter the comment section of any of these posts, all I ever see is a whole lot of ugly. While there may be fewer protest riots that break out in fistfights, it’s not because they are gone. They’ve just transferred to screaming matches behind a keyboard.
Digital activism is a powerful tool in aiding in social change. It’s not going away, and we need to embrace that it’s a way for people to communicate their platform. However, now that literally anyone can advocate online, it’s important that we set guidelines of consideration. This is where digital citizenship comes into play. I think that the type of digital citizen you are is directly related to the impact your activism attempt makes. Someone with good digital citizenship skills will make constructive change just like these awesome inspirational teens I read about this week. Someone with less than stellar digital citizenship skills has the potential to cause destructive change. This is why I think digital citizenship absolutely needs to be taught. It needs to be taught by parents, teachers, by any person that is even the smallest role model in a child’s life. Whether you are a parent or educator, your end goal is to make sure the child you help raised grows up to be a good citizen. It only makes sense that we continue this lesson into the digital world.