Wielding Web 2.0 as a Weapon in the Digital Revolution
A few years ago, a colleague forwarded an email to me containing a video clip of a school-girl having sex on a public bus with a boy, assumed to be her schoolmate. I was sickened to my stomach within seconds of opening the video file.The email came with no warning, no introductory title, no precursor for what I was about to witness, only the incongruous caption, "MUST SEE!!!" (with the extraneous punctuation marks, as if what I was about to see would be even mildly entertaining). I was disgusted and immediately telephoned my colleague to express my feelings. "How could you?!" I demanded. (I needed her to justify how on earth a responsible adult could feel even remotely comfortable 'sharing' that kind of pornographic material.) "You are a TEACHER!" I protested.
Needless to say, the 'act' which had been recorded on a cell phone, presumably, by another teenage boy became a viral 'sensation'.
Fast-forward, three years later, I am working with a group of students in a non-school setting and I have a terrible case of deja-vu when one of the boys in my group captures the up-skirt of a younger, unsuspecting female student on his smartphone. For several days, and still unbeknownst to her, the twelve-year old girl had been at the center of the most vicious ridicule by her peers. After I formally reported the incident to the programme's administrators, much to my dismay, the incident was dismissed without action. "You are over-reacting," I was told. "It's not a big deal."
I resigned the job the following day.
While I'm thrilled to see students embrace innovation and find new avenues to be seen and heard, especially in the developing world where access to technology is still a privilege for many, the case for responsible use of the internet and its many manifestations must constantly be championed. With the advent of ever-changing technologies, including the much-touted Web 2.0, we can do and be much more than just spectators in the digital revolution.
Our generation now has unparallelled access to information and ideas. We literally have, at the tip of our fingers, unlimited entry to vast communities through which we can connect, share, entertain, collaborate, inspire. We can choose to break each other down or build each other up. In this vast space, littered with blogs, chatrooms,wikis, social networks...with Tweeters, and MySpaces, Youtubes, and Linked-Ins... We find each other. We find ourselves.
With the advent of new digital tools and techniques, our generation is beginning to see the world differently. Yet, in our genealogical communities we see the world the same. We see the changes that need to be made in the world. We commit to changing the world. And, in the process, we hope to change ourselves.
As the revolution unfolds, I choose to immerse myself in the power of community. From the arsenal of digital technologies, I choose to wield Web 2.0 as a weapon in the fight to challenge the status quo, to raise questions, to demand answers, to empower young people--especially young women--to see themselves as more than mere pawns in someone else's game. They can change the rules. They can break the rules. They can create their own.