As an administrator, I often deal with disciplinary issues that expand into the digital world. In fact, one of my most recent incidents involves Twitter, Photoshop, and shared passwords. Without saying anything else, I am sure you can imagine what havoc these three things combined might wreak on the social lives of teenagers.
Therefore, I really enjoyed reading about teaching children how to create positive digital footprints. I loved the example of the father who wished as much for his child to have a digital footprint as he did that it was positive.
“One of my worst fears as [my children] grow older is that they won’t be Googled well. … that when a certain someone (read: admissions officer, employer, potential mate) enters “Tess Richardson” into the search line of the browser, what comes up will be less than impressive. That a quick surf through the top five hits will fail to astound with examples of her creativity, collaborative skills, and change-the-world work. Or, even worse, that no links about her will come up at all” (Educational Leadership).
The last line in this quote is particularly thought provoking. It says, that in this day and age, having a digital footprint is as essential as ensuring it is positive. Hence, rather than use scare tactics to try to keep kids offline or censor social media, as is the norm these days, we must educate children about proper use. The stakes are high; mistakes carry far more weight once online than in the past.
This raises another point. If we are responsible for our own digital footprint, who else has a say in it and what impact do others have?
Recently, I was reviewed on ISR. I hesitate to draw attention to this fact, as I don’t really want emphasize it or sound defensive, and yet, this example is too relevant to dismiss. Needless to say, the review was not positive. I have never considered ISR a particularly credible site, and when I read the review, I thought, “Wow, someone (past or present) is really angry with me.”
For me, this was cause for reflection and while the review stung a bit, I used it more as a lesson because I never wish for anyone to feel what this person who wrote the review feels. It is a good lesson in intent versus perception, and as I advocate on this blog, we should look at things from altering perspectives. So upon first read, I decided to approach this negative review from a positive angle: to ensure that my actions do not communicate these qualities and to ensure the message received is the same as my intent. It has been a great week for self-reflection.
However, after reading the series of articles on your digital footprint, I re-googled myself this week. As of March 23, one of my hits is this ISR review (you can’t actually access the review unless you are a member, but my name is there nonetheless). I am now less okay with this review than I was upon first read.
A pilot friend of mine was appalled that a site such as ISR even exists and allows anonymous reviews. In his field, there exists a similar quality review site, but anyone who attempts to review another person in such a way is automatically kicked off the site with privileges revoked.
While not thrilled about the review at all, when I knew the review was on ISR, I was okay with it. I feel that most people take this site with a grain of salt. However, now that this is public and part of my digital footprint, I begin to question the ethics of all of this. Why does someone else get a say in my digital image? Where is the fine line between disagreement and dishonesty?
Thus, I go back to my original question: If we are responsible for our own digital footprint, who else has a say in it and what impact do others have?