I am admittedly a little behind in watching the live sessions for my ECMP 355 course.  I am just coming off my mid-week that was full of papers, presentations, and exams and just haven't had a chance to sit and watch for an hour. Tonight I watched the session from last week which featured Alec Couros, professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina.  He presented on the topic of Digital Citizenship and Identity. He talked about lots of things like the scare ads put out to encourage children to be safe about what they post on the internet, because you never know who might be looking at the content.  Here is one I found:
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Picture courtesy of http://www.softwarewithstyle.com/guides/13?page=5
This always reminds me of the cautionary tales the Faculty of Education pass down to us about school boards searching for new teacher hires on Facebook to see what they are up to.  This seems to cause some panic amongst my classmates which makes me wonder what they have posted on their profiles.  Personally, I am friends with my dad so I always think about whether or not it is something I would want him to see.  If the answer is no then chances are it isn't suitable for the internet.  Plus, I am partial to posting things like good recipes and prompts to encourage people to read this blog.  And every once in a while I do what I refer to as a "friend cleanse" where I go through and delete people that I don't actually consider a friend.  I have one criterion and that is if I would look the other way if I saw you in public, then we are not friends and I do not think you need to be updated on the happenings of my life.  Or the delicious things I made for supper.

Alec also talked about some of the positive things that have come from the accessibility of the web and one was a website called the It Gets Better Project, which is a site dedicated to giving hope to youth from the LGBT community who face a great deal of harassment.  It all started with one video by Dan Savage and is now something much larger with inspirational videos from US President Barack Obama, Anne Hathaway, and Lady Gaga. Here is a short video that Google Chrome put together about the initiative:
I had never seen this video before Alec asked us to watch it tonight, and it almost moved me to tears.  Then he mentioned the video that a young man by the name of Jamey Rodermeyer contributed about his experience. Unfortunately, Jamey ended up committing suicide a few months later due to the bullying he was experiencing because of his sexual orientation.  I watched his video and you could tell that he was trying to stay positive but that the hurt he was feeling was cutting quite deep.  It made me sad to think that his life had come to be so unbearable that it had become not worth living. But when I scrolled down to the comments on YouTube, it all seemed so blatantly obvious.

I have never read such hateful and ignorant comments about something so serious.  Some had been written hours ago, some days ago, but they all had the same message of intolerance and were all being posted by the same user. I was astonished that no one was doing anything more then engaging this person in banter, so I took matters into my own hands and reported him/her to YouTube.  However, this was not as easy as it should have been.  It took me nearly 10 minutes to figure out how to report the inappropriate comments. I had to search in a number of places before I found the form here.  I am trying to stay positive about the situation by thinking that maybe other people had as much trouble trying to report the comments but weren't as persistent as me.

This whole situation reminded me about how easy technology has made it for people to spew hateful words at or about another human being.  It is much easier to say those things when you aren't confronted with the pain and emotion on the face of the other person.  Would that person have said those things to Jamey's face?  Or to the face of his grieving parents?  I doubt it.  I think I did the right thing tonight.  What would you have done?

“Always stand up for what you believe in…even if it means standing alone.” ~ Kim Hanks
 


Comments

06/07/2012 10:14pm

I so admire your persistence, Miss W! I can't believe that there are so many hoops to jump through to report a comment. Like you said, it's sad to think of how many people might give up in the process of trying to report a comment. It should be easier than that so that feelings and, potentially, lives could be spared. I have saved your link to that form incase I ever encounter a comment that I want to report and I am going to tweet the link out right away in hopes that someone else will save it too.

One of the issues that I have with technology is that it doesn't always hold people accountable for their actions. For example, screen names, as you exemplified in the "Susan" picture above, can be completely fabricated. Everyone is so tough behind their computer screen because they don't have the (excuse the language) balls to say it in person. Something my dad always says is, "just look at where it's coming from." I know that's not the right thing to say to kids because we want to promote acceptance but that saying has definitely helped me get through some tough times (can you help me brainstorm nicer ways to say that for primary grades?) Bullies are miserable and they want everyone else to be miserable too. I bet if computers came with a mandatory mirror attached to them, bullies would spend less time on them because they wouldn't want to look at something so (internally) ugly.

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06/09/2012 3:52pm

Thanks for the comment, Denine! I think you're right about bullies being miserable. Chances are they are bullied too, maybe by a parent or a neighbour, and are redirecting that hurt in a situation they think they can control. I think that is why it is so important to talk about healthy relationships and have schools participate in a school-wide approach to anti-bullying. The Canadian Red Cross has information for implementing programming in the school around that. The group that really needs to be targeted are the bystanders, because without them, there would be far less bullying going on. Usually bullies are looking for some kind of attention or power, and without other people to see and support them, they have nothing. But it takes courage to stand up for what is right, but I think we should challenge students to think about how they feel when they do nothing versus when they do something about it.

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