Saturday, February 2, 2013

Week 2: Digital Community, Digital Citizenship

If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or even an email account; you are a digital citizen. By merely using these technologies and others you have branded yourself a digital citizen. You elected to be a part this digital community (Facebook, email, etc.) it was not forced upon.  When you sign up for any social media account or even an email account (personal, work or school) you are required to agree with certain terms and conditions of that site before you are accepted. Your consent makes you a part of that community; you are automatically sent an email welcoming you to the service with your username and password. Once you are online, there are levels of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If you post offensive or inappropriate content and a user reports you; it’s a violation the agreed on terms and conditions. You will be penalized in various manners depending on the site.
So, once you log into your accounts and begin to communicate and exchange information with others you are exercising your right as digital citizen. The term global citizenship or digital citizenship implies that traditional concepts of geography and place are not as important as they used to be to our understanding of citizenship (Ohler, 2010).
You are seeing the notion of geography cast aside in reference to anything digital. People are now working remotely, attending classes remotely and doctors are even evaluating and monitoring patients remotely. Your real and digital lives have crossed pollinated, geography is no longer a barrier but now you don’t know what is real because so much of your lives are lived through social media.  People are entering into long distance relationships, falling in love and believing they have finally met their significant others. The relationships are based solely on a series of images, status updates, and conversations through social media. In some cases, they have never seen each other and they have never communicated outside of social media with Skype, FaceTime or even telephone but they claim they are in love.
The focus on online relationships and how they form has become increasingly popular since the award winning documentary, Catfish which is now a weekly television show on MTV. A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances (Urban Dictionary, 2013). This practice was thrust into mainstream headlines a few weeks ago because of an incident involving a fake girlfriend hoax against Notre Dame Linebacker, Manti Te’o.  
In the PBS documentary, Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier they “present an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world” (PBS , 2010). Internet usage in South Korea has become a public healthcare crisis. The government has stepped in and is now teaching children healthy internet habits. Second graders in South Korea are taught how to use a computer right around the same time they are learning to read. They are learning more than just technical functions. They are learning something every digital citizen should be taught; Digital Citizenship comes with expectations and responsibilities.
I’m sure Douglas Rushkoff, author of books on media, technology and culture probably never thought we would reach this point. Rushkoff, reassured people for decades about the positives of the digital revolution but now he says, “I want to know whether or not we are tinkering with something more essential than we realize." (PBS , 2010)

Urban Dictionary. (2013). Retrieved from
Ohler, J. B. (2010). Digital Community Digital Citizen. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.



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