I came across a satirical video this week, created by The Onion (a news satire organization), which demonstrates this “image” that many people hold in their minds about our younger generation. It also ties in the still current and controversial issue of euthanasia, but it it’s definitely worth a watch (and a giggle if you appreciate sarcasm):
The continuous active classification of the digital and physical world as separate entities could potentially drive people to meet the fictitious outcome we saw in the video above: digital people and IRL people ignorant of each other’s existence. We live in a blended world, and our lives should ultimately reflect a blended approach as well. This will also serve to diminish that superiority factor (on both sides I might add) that one way-of-life is superior to another. As Jurgenson says, “Let’s not pretend we are in some special, elite group with access to the pure offline, turning the real into a fetish and regarding everyone else as a little less real and a little less human.” However, this does go both ways. I would extend this advice to those who live a largely digital existence, in saying, “Let’s not pretend we are in some special, elite group with access to the digital world, turning the digital into a fetish and regarding everyone else as a little less connected and a little less relevant.”
The video made me chuckle when the parents were discussing how Caitlyn’s organs could be useful to other kids who engage in the physical world. Mr. and Mrs. Teagart say, “We can give [Caitlyn’s] eyes to someone who would actually read a book.” The main issue at hand is their daughter’s distraction with her technology, yet, as Jurgenson points out, historically “books themselves were regarded as a deleterious distraction as they became more prevalent.” In today’s day and age, we applaud students for picking up a book, and would rarely regard it as a dangerous disengagement from their surroundings and personal relationships. Arguably, reading a book can be less social than being connected on technology, as many teens are socializing on digital platforms. Furthermore, when we see a teen on their device, it is often erroneously assumed that they are engaging in meaningless activity; it has been my experience that students today still love to read books, and many choose to do so on their digital devices. For that they, too, should be applauded. This reminds me of the newspaper picture that Alec & Katia showed us in class this past week:
Of course, this is where the video also illustrates another fallacy: digital natives. It is certainly clear that Caitlyn, despite being born in the 21st century, is not a “digital native”. As David White points out, “being socially adept at Facebook or owning the latest phone is not a foundation for using the web effectively for study” nor for developing media literacy and digital fluency. These are skills that need to be taught, modelled, and practiced—they are not innate, as the term “native” would lead one to believe. The PBS video illustrates this point in saying that "no one is born a native speaker of 'digital' the way no one is born a native speaker of any language”, but with “context, immersion, and practice” they will learn. Using the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” run the danger of a generational divide and “coercing comfort into knowledge” (PBS), which are two very distinct things.
Just like the digital and physical world aren’t separate, neither is the skill-level and capacity of certain generations; after all, "Wasn't the internet built by people in the age range we would readily label ‘digital immigrant’” (PBS)? I really like the alternate analogy that David White explores: Digital Residents and Digital Visitors; particularly the idea that it is a continuum. Many of our teens are digital residents, whom leave social traces of themselves even when offline. This, again, relates to our pedagogy and practice as educators because it is imperative that we educate teens to examine and purposefully sculpt their digital footprint.
Another connection this video has to our course is the recurring theme of media literacy. If you take a gander through the comments, there are many viewers that believe this to be a “real” news story. Again, this demonstrates the need for teachers to stretch their pedagogy and infuse their practice with 21st century skills in order to cultivate their students’ capacity to critically evaluate media all around them.