The physical world is tangible and concrete, making it easy for us to understand the scientific rules of gravity and space. We learn as an infant that when we fall over, it can hurt. We also soon learn that the people around us can see our actions, so we don’t yell out in public or step in front of people in line.
The virtual world is abstract and there is a tendency to believe we are unseen or anonymous. This makes it easy to ignore people and to simply “scroll” along until we find what interests us. Consider, though, the fact that we are still unique individuals and our digital footprints follow us in ever-increasing ways. The comments we make, the links we share, the “brand” we put online is as important as anything we do in the physical world. Perhaps it is even more important because it is often archived.
Balance Tip #3: Be conscious of digital citizenship
Sounds super easy, doesn’t it? What is not easy, is to keep in mind that the physical world provides a small “neighborhood” of people around us most of the time. The virtual world is full of social media sites, apps, links and limitless connections.
When we make a mistake in the physical world, such as bumping into someone or interrupting someone, we can quickly apologize and it is over. In the virtual world, our presence lingers in text, photos, comments, links, tweets, likes, etc. Is it ever really “over” when we walk away?
Perhaps we still have much to learn about how the Internet has affected our lives. Toward that end, a current project I am working on will share Digital Citizenship at a virtual world exhibit at The Community Virtual Library in Second Life. Some of the topics might include digital footprints, “over-sharing”, privacy, cybersecurity, online ethics, respect for intellectual property and the current barrage of “fake news”. These elements of digital citizenship have become absolutely critical for us all- from age 2 to 102.
Photo at https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/15378138833