And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time (Miller, 2009).
In reflecting on this week’s resources about the digital footprints we inevitably leave behind, I was reminded of this quote by Donald Miller about living a meaningful life. The stories we live out online are no less important than the stories we live out in person. In fact, it is crucial we are conscious of the world we are creating online by how we interact in the digital realm. What we do online has a direct effect on our everyday realities. There is great responsibility that comes by being connected to people all over the world. Our digital footprints are often born before us and live on after us. Who we are and how we communicate has a lasting impact.
A digital footprint is often referred to as a digital tattoo. This trail we leave behind when we go online can be tracked by others regardless of a clear browser history. Every post we make, site we visit, and transaction can be traced. In regards to safety, I take the necessary precautions with firewalls and virus protection. I ensure secure sites and encryption when purchasing online. In regards to my personal or professional image online, I do often consider the digital footprint I am leaving. Professionally, this began the year I became a teacher. The district I started my career in would remind us that we are leaders in our community and are held to a higher expectation so our social media accounts should reflect this. I’ve always been an advocate for posting educational articles or positive news because to be fair, the media doesn’t always do a great job in this department. I believe as a digital citizen I have the responsibility to use my account as a platform to educate, encourage, and connect others with resources to promote what I believe is important in life. These platforms are a powerful tool in connecting with others and reminding them that they are not alone in their efforts.
Although I may have the best intentions when it comes to conducting myself online safely and respectfully, it is alarming to feel as though everywhere I’ve been in a sense can be searched by others. The thought that any one of my smart-devices are listening 24/7 is unnerving. It makes me reconsider if some of these platforms are worth it. The ads that pop up on my news feed are directly correlated to sites I’ve visited or have simply spoken about aloud. I am convinced that “Big Brother” is watching us or at least collecting data to rule in their favor. Being aware of this is crucial in educating ourselves and our students about cultivating a positive digital footprint. Our students must understand that we are all connected in a much bigger picture, one that is bigger than ourselves. The decisions we make affect ourselves and others, and could affect us in the future after we’ve long forgotten what was posted today. They must understand the risks involved and the permanency that comes with interacting in the digital realm. The sites we visit, what we purchase, and present on social media link not only to us as a person, but to the person who created the content. Our lives are more intricately connected than ever before.
One of the most fascinating video resources this week was Nicholas Negroponte’s (2014) TED Talk. Negroponte revisited the last 50 years of technology and highlighted how quickly our society has progressed in this short time. This implies that the next 50 years will have even greater advances, and in his prediction he believes we will have the capacity to ingest information. As far fetched as this may sound, I am not ruling it out. When I was a student in the late 90s-early 2000s, I never imagined I would be doing my entire graduate school online. Technology has provided access to a better life and has connected us to professors and colleagues around the world. The fact that I am in Austin, TX, my class is through Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, my professor is in South Carolina, and my cohort is sprinkled all over the world is extraordinary. Although we all have never met in person, we have built a professional trust through weekly discussions, therefore I value and trust their feedback. I am excited to see what the future holds for how we learn and what is possible.
Overall, my intention as a digital citizen is to connect with others well. This may be professional or personal, but it is important that we use this digital realm as a safe space we share with each other. As humans, we need to feel connected. However and wherever we are connected is important, too. We must understand that our actions and words have lasting impacts, so we must act with integrity and model how to be responsible with what we have been given.
References and Resources:
Miller, D. (2009). A million miles in a thousand years: What i learned while editing my life. Thomas Nelson.
Mitra, S. (2013, February). Build a school in the cloud . Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud
Negroponte, N. (2014, July 8). A 30-year history of the future . Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b5BDoddOLA