As I was reading this past week I came across a graphic that made me stop and think. When I signed up for Facebook, I didn’t include my cell phone number or my address. I still don’t have my cell phone number or address listed. I have since added my train station, but I am still careful about what I share. I am a social person and have always enjoyed building networks of people so Facebook has been a great way to reconnect with many friends and meet some relatives who have lived long distances from me. At various times I’ve looked at my privacy settings, unsure of what some of them mean. I am getting a better understanding and try to think before I post although I will admit that many of my posts are not profound. I would like to believe that none of them have been offensive either. As a Christian educator I also realize I have a responsibility and privilege to be a positive role model to my present students as well as former students.
I have former students(either in high school or graduates of high school), friends of my children(who are all now out of high school) and children of my friends and relatives as “friends” on Facebook. I also have friends from my high school and college days, relatives, as well as various friends I’ve made in my life’s journey. I like to see what they are doing and let close friends know about what is happening in my family’s life. At times, I’ve been surprised at “posts” of some of the people I know. Recently, I’ve begun to think about, do they realize the digital footprint they are leaving? I have no intention of becoming an internet policeman. I do know I need to be a responsible educator and help my students, present and former, to understand what is a digital footprint and what it means to be a responsible citizen.
Cory Doctorow on YouTube made several key points that I agree with. When we monitor everything the students are doing on the internet, they don’t learn to monitor themselves. We need to teach them how to monitor where they are going, who they are interacting with and what they are posting. We also need to teach students to ask the question, “Why do you need to know this?” when they get a request for information online. Actually that is a good question for each of us to ask when there is a request for information. “Why do you need to know this? How will you use this information?” There were other ideas that Cory presented that I’m not sure I understand let alone agree with but it was worth watching for 12 minutes.
Everyone seems to look at privacy in slightly different ways, Brendan gives a great summary. Clair gave a great reminder of following the “Golden Rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That may not keep your privacy “safe” but hopefully what others see about you will be the image you want to present.
Ultimately I am responsible for what I post online. There is no way I can control everything everyone else might post about me. I know I am not “without sin” but if I am living a life pleasing to God, I will leave a digital footprint that is also pleasing to Him. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be vigilant and be sure I’m checking privacy settings.