On Digital Citizenship

Network awareness: How we both thrive as creative individuals and understand our contribution within a network of others? How do you gain a sense of what that extended network is and what it can do?

Global Consciousness: How does the World Wide Web change our responsibilities in and to the world we live in?

Ethics: What are the new moral imperatives of our interconnected age?

Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning: Alvin Toffler has said that, in the rapidly changing world of the 21st century, the most important skill anyone can have is the ability to stop in one’s tracks, see what isn’t working, and then find ways to unlearn old patterns and relearn how to learn.

“21st Century Literacies,” from Learning, Freedom, and the Web by Anya Kamentz and the participants of the Mozilla Festival

These are all such excellent questions that get at the heart of how the way we think about literacy in the 21st century needs to be radically different. I love all these big questions posed and think this list spells out really well the breadth of open questions that have yet to be answered, with regards to teaching, learning, and living as a digitally literate citizen in our connected world.

In addition to global consciousness and civic awareness, an important distinction to make is the importance of recognizing that on the other side of the screen is a person. A real person. A person who has good days and bad days just like you do. That the products and services that we consume daily, hourly, and that push minute-by-minute updates to our devices… those a) connect us to real people and b) were built by real people. I fear that we forget too easily our role in this gigantic ecosystem of the Internet–we forget that our actions have impact and that we do not live anonymously online anymore. Perhaps there was a time, when the World Wide Web first began, but that is not the case any more.

From that Ellen Degeneres monologue you found on YouTube that you share on your Tumblr to that unthinking “like” you hit on that friend-of-a-friend you once met at a Halloween party three years ago’s Instagram photo… these actions do have impact. And these are examples of online acts that are not obviously anonymous. Someone, somewhere in the world saw what you put out there into the world and took something from that act–whether it meant it put a smile on their face in an otherwise rough week or was a simple nudge of “hey, I think what you have to say and share about the world is important and I validate your expression of self.”

On the flip side, I think the adverse affects of this pre-supposed anonymity is this self-absorbed sense of invincibility. That “I’m on the Internet, so I can do whatever the hell I want, because who’s going to stop me?” attitude, which fundamentally misrepresents of what this insanely connected web of wires enables: a platform for people to come together. If we did a better job of opening each others’ eyes and reminding ourselves of the real, tangible, flesh-and-blood people who are taking in, making meaning of, and feeling the impact of our every keystroke, angrily typed out because today, the world isn’t being fair to us… we might just see that the potential for good–the potential for reaching hundreds of thousands of lives with just one click of a button–is so profound.

It’s time we cherished this freedom and power our fingertips–being a digital citizen is not a right, it’s a responsibility and a privilege.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s