Krista Christensen

Read Write Teach Love

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Making Nice

Some of you may know this, but after many, many years rejecting the social network, I am now on Facebook. I made this concession because I wanted to network professionally: I still have serious concerns about FB’s privacy policies as well as their legal claims of ownership on all media posted therein. So, I don’t post pictures of my family. I don’t share internet cat videos (although the occasional literary or grammar meme does slip in!). But I’m there, nonetheless, and sometimes, I’m worried about stepping on toes.

In this “digital age” we so often slip into new habits of interaction without really considering their consequences, and of course, as the Buddha says, we become our actions. Now, I do feel silly asking friends who have been on FB for years whether or not it is “okay” to post on someone’s timeline. But aren’t virtual friends still friends, nonetheless? And shouldn’t they, at least in theory, be actual friends, as well as virtual ones? If so, the risk of offending one should be considered carefully, just as I would in “real” life.

Here’s a second tech-iquette issue, and one I deal with much more directly: phones in classrooms. I’ve seen a range of responses to students on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or, heaven forbid, just simply texting. Outright prohibition works about as well as liquor prohibition in the 20’s. So teachers are left with what they do best: teaching. The problem is, there is no common code of digital etiquette. Evan Selinger’s TEDx talk proposes some, but do others have any ideas?

What does digital-age etiquette look like? What sorts of smartphone/social media faux pas truly anger you? Tell me, because though I am a digital native, I’m struggling to fully understand the etiquette of social networking, and I do find myself facing my phone instead of my children, or dashing off an inappropriate comment. Talking about these issues, I think, will foster that community we so crave.