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« #GoodNewsCalloftheDay: Guest post by Mary Casserly-Smith | Main | BFTP: The library's first contact with parents »

Where would you be now if ...

... social media existed when you were in high school? I, for one, may well be sleeping on a Salvation Army cot.

A sobering incident involving a racist social media posting at our high school this weekend had me asking that question again. While I believe this particular student's act is a good example of Hanlon's razor (never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity) in action, it none-the-less, I'm sure, caused distress among many of students and their families. 

Those of us who grew up in the pre-Internet era, certainly had plenty of ways to do injury to ourselves and to others. Beer, gossip, sex, guns, knives, jumping off high places, and reckless driving all existed, my children, even in those medieval times of the 1960s and 1970s in rural Iowa. Our adolescent brains were no more adept at making good judgements that those young cortexes of today.

What we did not have was a means of making our idiocies immediately known to the rest of the world. With any luck, we kept our foolhardy stunts to ourselves and our hurtful comments were not recorded for later review.

Thank heavens. Our footprints were left in mud and snow and air, not digits.

If anything good can come of an incident like the one linked above, it is that it may prove to be a "teachable moment" for our students and our community: this "digital footprint thing" that teachers and librarians and parents harp on isn't just an abstraction, but reality. And once we know that our online activities can have negative consequences that will stay with us forever, perhaps we can then turn our focus on how to build online reputations that are positive and helpful to our careers and community.

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Reader Comments (2)

I feel sorry for the kid. Obviously, he was just trying to be clever and he got caught up in our society that has become very sensitive to political correctness. I hope they had a nice time at the dance.

September 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFloyd Pentlin

Hi Floyd,

It's an unforgiving world online, my friend, that does not separate viciousness from stupid humor. This one act will have long term consequences for both the boy and girl.


September 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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