The Consequences of Free Speech Online

It has been an interesting few weeks of reading for this class. I have become very interested in the topics, but I continue to be terrible at the blogging part of the class so I apologize for tying in ideas from the last couple of weeks.

It would be impossible to write a post right now and not talk about both the election and the Jays. I think both tie in to this class so well right now. I will start by looking at the Jays. Our class readings guided us in to a world where we looked at the increasingly popular trend of using our internet spread voices to shame others for their actions. It is something that has been done to celebrities for years, but it has now spread to average citizens (and even professional athletes) that say/do something that onliners find offensive. Take, for instance, Bautista’s bat throw.

It would seem that our society has become a little too righteous sitting behind their keyboards criticizing the actions of others (and don’t think that I have missed the irony that I am sitting behind my computer criticizing them)!! Jose Bautista is a professional athlete that kept his team (and his nation’s) playoff hopes alive with that hit. These ball players dedicate their lives to the game, and he made an incredible play. Why, then, is he being criticized? Context- or lack of it to be more specific. When you look at the bat throw on its own, in a 12 s clip, you miss the influence of the other factors surrounding the incident- including how emotionally charged the inning prior to this play was. Along with often lacking the context of what we are criticizing we are also lacking empathy for our fellow humans and seem to be upholding them to unrealistically high expectations- not accepting any form of slip-up without pointing it out.

Another example from the Jays is the Royals fan and where exactly his glove was when he caught the ball. If you don’t follow sports and haven’t heard about it- a quick Google search will provide you plenty of information (and opinions) on it. The internet world provided plenty of shaming before the game was even over. What it did make me question more, however, was how the shaming of this young man would compare to the young women with taking selfies at the ball game. I have seen plenty of comments about his facial hair, but no rape threats yet. There is no arguing that shaming is gendered in its response.

Royals Fan catch

This particular meme about the Royals fan catch was posted before the game was even done. I have also seen a lot memes lately that highlight what an advantage it is to have come from a generation that did our stupid youth stuff before there were cell phones to keep evidence of it all. I think that we need to remember this when we are online witnesses to our youth’s indiscretions.

Young before cell phones

I also want to take this opportunity to discuss the idea of permanence combined with empathy. How long can we hold youth accountable for decisions they make when they are young? The internet will remember for ever- the change needs to be in what we, as consumers of the information, do with it.  Take, for instance, the Liberal MP canidate, Ala Buzreba, that stepped down due to a deleted tweet that found its way into the media during her campaign. We all made mistakes in our youth- what will having these mistakes happening in public spaces online mean for the futures of our youth?

I spent a lot of time looking at and reading about the idea of “Digital Natives”. I feel like the term itself was widely disliked, but I actually found the terms Digital Native/Immigrant to be more appropriate for me than Digital Visitor/Resident. One of the things I found funniest about the cutoff date to be considered a digital native is that it was 1980. Being born in 1985 I certainly do not feel like a digital native. I think it is important to keep in mind that whichever of these terms you prefer (digital native/immigrant or digital visitor/resident) that they aren’t 2 separate categories to which a person either belongs or doesn’t belong. They are a spectrum (like so many, many other things we encounter in the education world) and every individual can have multiple places on the spectrum.

Major Project Update: I have decided that I am going to interview students to see when and how they use social media on a day to day basis. I am also interested in how they think their social media usage has changed their relationships with their family and friends. I hope to get the questions made up in the next week and start talking to students that might be willing to participate. I also need to figure out how to get parent permission and media release forms needed to be able to share it with all of you.


TTFN. Thanks for being patient while I catch up on my blogging.



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