From the “Do We Really Want Our Daughters to Learn This on Their Own?” Department comes this excerpt from the cover article of the Sunday Times Magazine this week titled “Blog Post Confidential“:
Of course, some people have always been more naturally inclined toward oversharing than others. Technology just enables us to overshare on a different scale. Long before I had a blog, I found ways to broadcast my thoughts â€” to gossip about myself, tell my own secrets, tell myself and others the ongoing story of my life. As soon as I could write notes, I passed them incorrigibly. In high school, I encouraged my friends to circulate a notebook in which we shared our candid thoughts about teachers, and when we got caught, I was the one who wanted to argue about the First Amendment rather than gracefully accept punishment. I walked down the hall of my high school passing out copies of a comic-book zine I drew, featuring a mock superhero called SuperEmily, who battled thinly veiled versions of my gradeâ€™s reigning mean girls. In college, I sent out an all-student e-mail message revealing that an ex-boyfriend shaved his chest hair. The big difference between these youthful indiscretions and my more recent ones is that you can Google my more recent ones.
One girl’s careening story about enlightenment when it comes to telling to much on her blog (and others doing the same.) A story for our times.
I couldn’t help but wonder, as I read this story, and as I read almost anything having to do with kids or young adults trying to navigate these spaces if they wouldn’t have a better time of it had they had teachers and adults who were modeling and guiding them on how to do it well…
Mathieu Plourde says
I work in higher ed and we still see a lot of examples of worst practices, even thought students have been exposed to technology since they were born.
In a world where the Internet becomes your permanent record, there is definitely a huge risk in being that transparent… Web literacy is a competency that should be apart of the curriculum as soon as possible.
Thanks for the post!
Amy Strecker says
Thanks for sharing this!
I often even have to find myself thinking through sending a funny email I write or posting something on a blog: “ok, this is really funny and appropriate today, but in 20 years will it still be funny, or could it be hurtful to me or someone else?”
I believe it was on Vicki Davis’s blog (even though I can’t find the post now) that she talked about teaching her students the “presidential test” before posting anything online. It goes something like, “If in 30 years you were running for president, what could the media say about this picture/post/media.” If nothing negative — post away, if it could somehow be misconstrued — think twice!
Joan Vinall-Cox says
And pictures! You didn’t even mention what kinds of pictures of themselves kids are posting, and the new culture of what is “normal”! Our youth are in a new wilderness without guides or structures to protect them. And education ranks 55th of 55 major industries in IT intensiveness according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerces! – http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=769ecebb1acfc6748b4f
I wonder what the world will look like in 20 years, when the same people who are currently oversharing and posting pictures of their indiscretions for everyone to google are in charge of hiring college kids. What will they think of as “over”sharing and what will they think of as just normal?
…or if they had adults and employers who were more open-minded?
I’m still not convinced this is a real problem in the real world. All we have is recruiters saying “yes, I’ve googled people, and yes, I’ve thrown out applications because of what I found”…but that’s hardly proof of a problem. Are these rejected applicants just applicants who would have been rejected at a different point in the process? Has there been a fundamental change in what entry-level positions recent grads have been able to get, or how much they’re able to be paid, or how many applications they have to fill out?
It would be ironic, I think, if it turns out that posting “embarrassing” content online saved everyone time and money by helping employers and applicants determine whether they would actually be a good fit in the long run. In that case, is advocating that students change who they are online both confusing their personal compass and hurting the economy?
How about we go back to teaching students to avoid dangerous behavior (or at least be aware of the risks) and tell them to let their online life be an honest reflection of their real life?
Paul Caplan says
heh, reverse the logic rather than having teachers and adults modeling and guiding, empower the kids to do it for each other. They already are but with institutional support, imagine the support and education networks that could be set up. who would you rather have helping you take your first steps through online safety and storytelling, your dad or that cool kid in the year above you?
I actually went to college with the girl who wrote the article, Emily. We were friends. It’s always hard to imagine that girl I knew in college turning into the girl I read about in the Times (and who I’ve “bumped into” from time to time in NYC). But, in truth, it’s not THAT hard to imagine it.
I won’t say that some are predisposed to become gossip queens, but perhaps some are predisposed to sharing more than others: the question is whether they use that character trait for good or evil I suppose, and how adults and young adults’ peers can steer them one way or the other. I often find myself thinking that adults are far worse influences on young adults than we give ourselves credit for.
We like the juicy gossip: we ask our children (well, if I had a teenager I probably would) who’s dating whom. “We” (and here I use the word we in the proverbial sense, as I’m not inclined to agree) place significant emphasis on being the cool kid, or at the least highly sociable.
I think the problem is an endemic one in our society: we tend to over-value the football player and marginalize the “nerd”. It’s the same old story, only now it’s being played out on a massive scale.
Kimberly McCollum says
I agree with Amy that Vicki Davis’s “presidential test” is a good rule of thumb for students to use when posting online material. I also agree with Dave that we should place emphasis on teaching students to avoid dangerous behavior online and off. However, the more difficult question is how. What are the most effective ways to teach students caution, online and off?
Michael Umphrey says
The ongoing progress of decadence
One of the things that will probably happen is that current standards of what is appropriate will be eroded, as lots of people who don’t meet that standard argue not that they made a mistake but that the standard is stupid and “everyone does it.”
As more people do things that aren’t very good, goodness itself becomes their enemy.
I think some are missing the point. Having educators and parents modeling the use of these tools… as well as discussing guidelines with kids would do worlds of good, IMO. Being “exposed to technology” doesn’t mean you know how to use it responsibly.
What if a teacher discussed ideas like Vicki’s president test, and then asked kids to create their own guidelines on how to be responsible and accountable online? They have ownership, plus they really start thinking about what they do.
When I talk with our new staff about ethics, we discuss their online presence. It’s amazing to see how many 23/24 year-olds scribbling down/texting reminders to themselves about checking what they’ve posted… but the discussion is even more valuable. I learn something with them every single time!
Gary S. Stager says
The Los Angeles Times offered a quite reasonable response to the NY Times Magazine story.
One of the basic human needs is to be heard, to share and honestly its how we learn and validate ourselves and others. I had not considered oversharing before. Seems like we have to change an enormous wave of societal values that are being created. How do we accomplish that?
Bill Gaskins says
You make a great point about the teacher being the role model. I say yes and we should be teaching them and showing them all that we know. It is scary to leave them alone and let them figure it out by themselves. I am afraid many of our youth have done hard to themselves with the things they have published. It is their record and it is difficult process to make it go away. Future employers are learning the tricks and youth and teachers beware.