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Case Study: Digital Citizenship & Activism

By January 21, 20193 min read

We get it. These conversations are difficult.

Like many of you, our team at Class Intercom watched how a situation at the Lincoln Memorial between a group of students from Covington Catholic H.S. and a Native American protestor was caught on film and shared on social media.

As digital leaders, we don’t want to judge students that we haven’t met in a situation where many inciting factors are at work including race, politics, religion, age, etc. But how do we engage with students about what happened and help us all learn from this example?

Here are some thoughts to consider as you engage with students:

Good digital citizens tell the whole story or no story.

When this story broke, the footage only told a small part of the story. Harsh judgements were made from a mere 20 seconds of video that was taken out of context. It took nearly two days for media to broadcast over an hour of footage that served to help explain the situation. When you are posting on social media, good digital citizens recognize the need to tell the real story as it unfolds or wait until the entire story is ready to be told.

Responsible activism does have a place in social media.

A great number of recent humanitarian crisis were positively affected by the use of social media. Understanding the impact of social media in world events is critical. Was this responsible activism?

Symbols matter.

When posting to social media, symbols are important to recognize. There were several in this video. In DC, “Make America Great” hats are sold on every corner today. We know there is far more meaning in them than the 4 words written in white letters on red fabric.

Fights are rarely physical.

Today’s fights are often optics without punches being thrown. Consider the scenario, a Native American playing his drum approaches a group of students. The students may be “playing along” or they may be “resisting” or even “mocking” the man; however, the reality is that it is about optics. Fights over optics are nothing new. What is new is the access and frequency of these fights, which includes how we respond to them.

Classroom conversation questions:

What are the symbols that are present in the video footage?

What would happen if people only saw a few seconds of footage from your latest school function or event? Is there something that could be taken out of context?

What does responsible activism look like? Can you think of some examples?

How do we avoid people misunderstanding what happens in a story?

How can you crop a photo to tell a different story? Or a Video?

Exercise: Take a photo and show the class the different stories you can tell with the same photo.