I am not a digital citizen

comic strip

I’m keeping half an eye on the #digciz hashtag at the moment and watching folk have a conversation about digital citizenship. I don’t understand why they are using the term “citizen” at all – it’s really not clear to me that my relationship with the various places online that I visit or inhabit is that of a citizen at all. Typically citizenship comes along with a bunch of rights and responsibilities that are given to me in virtue of being a citizen of a particular state. So which state is it that accords me my digital citizenship? Can I leave it if I want? What sort of contract do I have with this state? A social one? Explicit? Tacit? Hypothetical? All these questions are problematic enough in the context of nation states, and I don’t see how we’d even begin to answer them in the context of the digital realm (for want of a better word). Maybe looking at Estonian Digital Citizenship would help? (Thanks Niall for the pointer – it doesn’t help, haha.)

And what is this digital thing that I am meant to be a citizen of? Is this really meant to be referring to my online behaviour, or is it referring to everything digital that I do? Is there some set of rules that I don’t know about that apply when I sit here, in the privacy of my study, and look at my digital pics of my cats?

I’m genuinely perplexed by this, so if you understand why folk are wanting all the conceptual baggage that comes with the term citizenship, or at least willing to put up with it because of other benefits it carries along with it, please, please let me know. Until then I’ll keep on being a person, online and offline.

Comic remixed from one by @dogtrax

This entry was posted in Online learning, Philosophy, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I am not a digital citizen

  1. It’s a metaphorical way in to a discussion about how people might behave in the Digital Commons. I find the term, citizenship, difficult, too. But I also know that such metaphors don’t sit well with many (If I mention Rhizome, I’m in trouble … oops).
    Thanks for the remix

  2. “Digital Citizen” is catchy. So are many other shortcut phrases. Education has been the venue for many such phrases designed to capture a group of followers. Without a catchphrase, many groups would not know they were a group.

    Am I a “connected educator” because I have talked to other educators for both personal and professional benefit…did I need to do the connection by computer tools?

    I don’t think so. Maybe some people do think of me that way because I get emails from the “Connected Educator” group. I did sign up to get the messages, but that doesn’t really qualify me for the title.

    I think I also feel that I am just a person, as you said.

    But, as the disclaimer says, “Your mileage may vary”.

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