This week (as an activity for my EDTC 300 class) I cybersleuthed my friend and classmate, Sydney. When looking up her full name on Google a bunch of links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a blog come up. However, it’s a blonde girl who lives somewhere else in Canada, not the Sydney I’m looking for. When seeing all these links to this other Sydney’s social media I thought “wow that’s a lot” then I read the article Having Multiple Online Identities is More Normal Than You Think. This article explains that having multiple social medias is quite normal and allows you to show the different sides of yourself. This gave me a reality check that this other Sydney is like most people (even me) with the number of social media’s she has, hers is just really easy to find on Google. This cybersleuthing activity allowed me to reflect on how when we are searching up others, especially those that we have not met, it’s important to know information about them, like their physical appearance, age, and what city or area they live in. If all I knew about Sydney was her name and that she lived in Canada, I would have been looking at and learning about a very different person then who I was originally trying to find. It makes you think about the number of false assumptions that people make daily of others-based on things they see on the internet without truly knowing the person.
I watched TedTalk’s The Price of Shame and How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life this week. Both of them make you realize that we as a digital society need to think about how much we are shaming and punishing some people for one mistake. Yes, too many people post inappropriate and hurtful things and yes they should be educated on why that is not okay, but are they truly deserving of having their life ripped apart over one post? This is why educating our students on their digital citizenship is critical, not only about what they should post, but how they react and/or reply to others posts.
These videos reminded me of a personal story I want to share. I remember being in grade 7, having no phone and the only social media I had was Facebook on our shared family computer. One day I went to a volleyball tournament and came back to a bunch of notifications, way more than usual. Apparently, my Facebook had been hacked by a scam company and I was commenting on my Facebook friends pictures about this weight loss thing (so nothing inappropriate, just annoying). Luckily nothing awful came from it, but I had a few people replying back some rude comments. They were unaware that I was being hacked and thought it was me and since I was away from the computer “my comments” had been going on all day. I made the mistake of commenting back with a derogatory word since I was upset and my parents found out and they were not happy. That same day I deleted the comment. Again, it was only a one-day event and by the next day it all stopped, but people were getting mad at me on the internet for something I didn’t do, or was even aware of. This is nothing compared to the hate and bullying others have had to go through. However, my story shows that this kind of thing can happen to just about anyone, and sometimes for no good reason.
This week was an eye-opener for me in terms of how bad harassment online can get for people. As well that online empathy is something everyone needs to be taught. What you see online isn’t always what it seems and usually you have to dig deeper to get to the truth. Educating our students and others about these events and online empathy will hopefully result in a kinder and more understanding digital world.