It is easy to write off the online world as useless and separate. Many forms of social media have tainted the message of digital citizenship, and what it means to be a citizen. Upon that note, I ask people to embrace social media for its positive qualities and how it can be a tool for generous connection. What might seem to be a useless post or a pointless blog, may only appear to be so through the eyes of someone who didn’t write it. I have heard many real-life conversations that carry the weight of a pointless Facebook post, but the Facebook post is the only one that gets cast out as an inadequate form of expression. It is time to accept that social media and other forms of online expression can be a foundation for empathy and understanding. In the education world, especially, a digital format can be utilized to connect people on another level. Real-world interaction is still king but the online world is becoming so real that it can’t be left out with the footprint it creates in connectivity and understanding.
This video above by George Couros is a great example of a positive digital footprint. The online world connected with him on a level only comparable to a hug. It is the underlying message that occurs in the case of Couros that must be given mention. Rather than meaningless, selfish posts Couros presented a scenario (unknowingly) that resulted in an entire community of dog lovers coming together to express grief and empathy.
It is important that messages, such as the one presented by Couros, are emphasized rather than negative ones created by social media. This brings us to another aspect of digital citizenship. This point being is that it is important to post respectable messages, because our digital footprint is everlasting. As an online community it is important to unite in a positive message, because that message is lasting. It is especially lasting to those people who already have a negative view of the online world.
Although the video above is scripted and the veracity of the actors is questionable, it does have a good message on a negative digital footprint. Undesirable things that we wish to keep private are rarely private. There is a fine line in social media on what creative is expression, and what is simple information overload. Many posts through social media and online gaming sites reflect who we are perceived as a person, regardless of whether that was the message we intended or not.