It is often times hard to absorb all of the avenues by which we interconnect online and how those connections create opportunity. Opportunity for good, and the not so good behaviors. Take for example, the many networks that have evolved whose soul purpose is to allow individuals to anonymously make derogatory comments about another. Similarly, the number of times on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks where infamous flame wars evolve and scorch the networks as two individuals forcefully make their points. Sadly, there are also the instances where the many verses one takes place, and the one is viewed as different and thus cannon fodder.
Today is Safer Internet Day 2014. Today I urge you, be you a teen, student or not, parent or guardian, grandparent, aunt or uncle, to invest in your family and community. Invest in learning the strengths and pitfalls of the World Wide Web, an environment no more tamed than the North Atlantic. Demonstrate by example, a bit of digital etiquette. Understand that it is difficult (near impossible) to make a point in 140 characters, and the opportunity for misunderstanding is high. Embrace alternative analysis and the point of view of another, even if you know, down to your bones, that they are wrong. And if you are unable to persuade the individual to your point of view, its okay.
And those of us with young, demonstrate the importance manners and etiquette play in ensuring the online engagement is a positive experience. Show how oftentimes the appropriate action isn’t to fire off another salvo of 140 characters on twitter, but to step out of the exchange and permit the other party to have the last word. And if they demonstrate unsavory behaviors, unfollow, remove, block or whatever function will cause the online persona to go “Poof!” and disappear.
Please remember, to stay safe, today and everyday, but most importantly and above all, engage.