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