Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Digital Fearmongering

Techin' PE recently wrote a very worthwhile entry on the issues of privacy and the online footprints that follow us through our digital lives (nice one Andy!).

In his post Andy mentions two common fears:
1. Our online behaviour from our deep, dark past follows us to job interview and university admissions tables.
2. The possible threat of others creating a negative footprint for us through rumors and online gossip.

Both scenarios are real and significant.

Special Guest from March 18th's f2f, Silvia Tolisano made mention to an entirely opposite and far more optimistic approach to tackling the issue of students' digital footprints. Tolisano endorses us educators to harness this unstoppable force and make digital footprints work for our children!

We should show our students that it is never too early to start down a good path that will leave nice footprints that reflects positively on us. This idea is similar to Friedman’s in his novel, The World is Flat: "In the future, you must be good."

It's optimistic, but not very realistic.

The extension of this "do good" approach sounds to me like we are asking kids to start building their ‘resumes’ in grade school! -Step out of line and run the risk of wide-spread and far-reaching ostracism.

How utterly stifling it all sounds.

The thing is, both sides of the footprint issue end up at the same place: an over-exposed and all-too-transparent society whose citizens are fearful of failure. As a teacher, it would be tragic to see risk taking and out-of-the-box thinking decline any further in our classrooms.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Matt! After reading it, I started wondering: Is the fear of failure and risk-taking inherent in a transparent society? Or is the fear stronger because people are so incredibly quick to judge online? I constantly come across vicious, derisive comments made on the strength of a single story. For example, a CNN story about a 20 year old live-in nanny who had to be laid off included the fact that she had $8,000 credit card debt. It also detailed how much she cared for the children she'd helped raise for 2.5 years and how she went out of her way to stay in their lives. The three most recent comments when I read said, "...I have no sympathy..." "...a mindless, vapid, decadent animal..." and "...sounds like a spoiled brat..." With no information about the reason for her debt (education? medical care? helping her family?) and no interest in her abundant love for the children in her care, people feel comfortable (in their - paradoxical - anonymity) judging her as a person. No wonder we're afraid!