If You Want to Create Polite Digital Citizens…

Warning! This post is a bit of a rant. 

The sleep-deprived state that I exist in as the father of two kids under age two has made my patience for impolite email and social media messages shorter than ever. That said, I am noticing three disturbing trends in my email inbox and in the social media interactions that I see. First, more than ever I am receiving impolite and downright rude email. Second, people who I know are teachers sharing fake news and fake giveaways on Facebook. Third, people who appear to be using Twitter just to prove that they’re “thought leaders” or “change agents” by arguing with anyone who will engage. That’s the trend that turned me off to Twitter chats years ago and it seems that behavior spread outside of Twitter chats. I wouldn’t accept that kind of digital behavior from students and I hope that teachers would be better models of good digital behavior.

Two highlights in my inbox of late include,

“I’ve been following your suggestions for a while and I have to say there [sic] total crap!” “I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. I tried (product name removed). It sucks!” 

Here are my suggestions for modeling good digital citizenship. 

1. Avoid hitting send before taking five or twenty good, deep breaths.

2. Stop sharing fake giveaways on social media. Delta isn’t giving free airplane tickets. Carnival Cruises isn’t giving you a stateroom. And the New England Patriots aren’t giving away playoff tickets. If you think there’s a chance that a giveaway like one of those is true, look for the verified checkmark on Facebook or Twitter. If it’s not there, it’s fake.

3. Stop sharing memes from Like Farms. Check your own confirmation bias before sharing.

4. Stop sharing without reading. I have the privilege to have more than 500,000 social media followers. It’s alarming to me the number of times that I see my Facebook posts shared between friends with a note like, “I didn’t read this, but it seems good.”

5. Don’t feed the trolls. Be nice.


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!