Mediums for Meanness?
Wow! I was so impressed by the panel today. I could speak to those kids for hours more. One thing that came up briefly in the discussion, but that we did not have time to really explore was the ways in which technology can help form tight-knit communities based on the shared destructive comments about a different person or group. I know that this is a common feature of all human societies (we like to form an "us" as opposed to a "them") but such dynamics are typically discouraged in school settings where we try to teach kids about how to be better people---or this was at least true in my religious school that listed one of its top 5 goals as "building community as a christian value." I wonder if increased access and usage of technology makes it less problamatic and easier for kids to be hateful and mean towards others (like the example of the principle talked about today). In my high school, we had an instance of meanness on peoplesdirt.com that became a huge problem. Because people were anonymous, they felt comfrotable saying malicious things about others online. On the other hand, I'm sure a lot of us have seen the ways in which YouTube users united to create a message of kindness -- "It Gets Better"-- in the past years. Do you think technology is helping or hindering children's ability to practice kindness (I really believe that kindness does take practice)? Middle school in particular can be a tough environment around issues of kindness and hostility, and I just wonder if technology (and the anoynminity that comes with it) further confuses middle schoolers as to how they should interact with others? Thoughts?