Stop and think for a second about the piece of technology you are using to read this blog article on right now. Think of all of the individual pieces of the device that work together as a whole. If you’re sitting at a computer you have a screen, a keyboard, a mouse or trackpad, plus all of the internal parts like processors and memory that go into making the entire thing work.
Now think even further than that… think to the hands of the people who made each of those components, and assembled them into a whole. Think of the hands of the people who mined the gold and silicon to used to create the most crucial parts of the computer. Think of the truck drivers that transported parts and then assembled machines and delivered them to the store where you purchased it. Think of the team of people that created ads that helped drive your decision to purchase that particular computer.
I could go on but the moral of the story is that one simple device, that we take for granted in today’s society, requires the work of hundreds if not thousands of people, worldwide, in order to go from raw materials to finished product. The moral is that we are all interconnected. We rely on each other in order to enjoy the things we enjoy in life. We rely on our fellow human beings to provide so much for us when you really break things down.
So what does this have to do with Digital Citizenship? It's the idea that we are all interconnected. What you share with a friend could be spread all over the Internet within a matter of moments. The mean things you say to what appears to be a simple avatar are being said to a real-life human being, with real life feelings. And those comments are forever connected with your personal Internet record. Everywhere you go on the Internet, everything you post, leaves a digital handprint on the Internet. And just like we can break down a computer into ever smaller parts, we can break the Internet down into ever smaller parts until we arrive at the handprint of the person who made any specific posting.
Just as every person leaves their mark on the physical world, every interaction online leaves a mark in the virtual world. What do your interactions, your handprints, say about you? Do they show a hard-working, dedicated individual with a giving heart and a great attitude. Or do they show that you have an attitude, in the not so great meaning of the word. These handprints that you leave behind each and every day are never going away, there is no delete function on the Internet. And so I ask you to examine your digital handprints and see what they say about you. The worn and battered hands of a miner who has toiled for years bringing ore from the ground that we need to build parts to make our devices run show the hard work and dedication in every callus and scar on them.
What do the marks on your digital hands say about you? Take a look at your digital profiles with a fresh eye, and see what they really say. To someone who doesn’t know you, what do they really say? Is it positive? Is it what you would want a potential employer to see about you? Is it what you want a scholarship committee to see about you? Is it what you want a college admissions officer to see about you? How do your digital hands reflect who you are? What story do they tell. And what can you start doing now to make those digital hands tell a new story? For it is never too late to change the story those hands tell, and there is never a better time to start than now.