Below is an early attempt at an “Rules for Online Sanity” list. I’d love to hear what you think I missed.
- Reward your “enemies” when they agree with you, exhibit good behavior, or come around on an issue. Otherwise they have no incentive to ever meet you halfway.
- Accept it when people apologize. People should be allowed to work through ideas and opinions online. And that can result in some messy outcomes. Be forgiving.
- Sometimes people have differing opinions because they considered something you didn’t.
- Take a second.
- There's always more to the story. You probably don't know the full context of whatever you're reading or watching.
- If an online space makes more money the more time you spend on it, use sparingly.
- Judge people on their actions, not their words. Don’t get outraged over what people said. Get outraged at what they actually do.
- Try to give people the benefit of the doubt, be charitable in how you read people’s ideas.
- Don’t treat one bad actor as representative of whatever group or demographic they belong to.
- Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about.
- Sometimes, there are bad actors that don’t play by the rules. They should be shunned, castigated, and banned.
- You don’t always have the moral high ground. You are not always right.
- Block and mute quickly. Worry about the bubbles that creates later.
- There but for the grace of God go you.
Howard C. Stevenson from Penn’s Graduate School of Education indicates three steps to address these harmful discourses as they enter your classroom.
- Start with you – Process your own feelings, and address your own vulnerabilities before entering the classroom. Develop a support system with your colleagues. Practice – Classroom reactions usually happen in a split second. Prepare yourself for these instances by role-playing with colleagues in your building, or online with your PLN.
- After an incident – Resist the urge to condemn the action or content. First try to understand the motivation if is disseminated through your classroom or building. Allow the school’s code of conduct to address instances where students actively spread this information. Strongly explain to students that these harmful discourses and the messages being spread about individuals and groups are not accepted. You will not accept the silencing of voices.
- Keep talking – After these events, the best course of action is to keep talking. Difficult discussions will often ensue, but children and adults alike need to be able to process their feelings and reactions. This is an opportunity to shut down and be silent, or engage and promote change.
Ian O’Byrne discusses the challenges of engaging in harmful discourses. He provides some ways to responding, as well as a number of ways to be proactive. This touches on what danah boyd describes as the weaponisation of worldviews.
You definitely do need to have two accounts, says Meika Woolard, a 13-year-old with 335,000 Instagram followers. She is one of Australia's most prominent teen Insta-influencers, and part of a growing trend of users harnessing the power of multiple accounts.
This touches on piece in Boing Boing highlighting that young people do not want a single identity. Uses of social media like this has me thinking about the way that IndieWeb and Domain of One’s Own centralise identities. Is this something unique to social media? Is this a limit of the ‘Rel=me’ approach?
In the end, it is up to you whether you believe that risks exist on the internet and whether they affect you. Personally, I hope that you will take a moment to understand how the internet works, and the risks involved for you and your children. I also hope that you will help your children to understand internet safety so that they are better prepared when you’re not around. I can’t tell you what to think and what to decide. I hope that you make an informed decision, a decision that helps your children lead safer lives.
Leif Rask provides a useful provocation in regards to online safety. It reminds me in part of watching Mr. Robot or Zeynep Tufekci’s work. My only concern is that it does not necessarily provide any sort of alternative. Maybe that would be a separate post? The hard thing is that there is no ‘informed’ choice that is magically the ‘right’ choice. I choose a self-hosted version of WordPress, is that worse than Rask’s choice to use WordPress.com? I realise that I may open myself up to more risks needing to manage my site, but the lessons learnt in doing this are priceless?