My Digital Citizenship Journey
Marialice B.F.X. Curran, Ph.D.
The ripple effect that an idea can have on the world has always astounded me. One simple idea can have a profound impact and lead to a chain of events that alter one’s life. It’s about following a journey.
For me, that journey has been in the area of digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is a concept that can loosely be defined as the safe, savvy, and ethical use of social media and technology. Similar to the difference a person and a citizen who actively participates and is cognizant of others, there has been a growing movement with promoting its modern twist--digital citizenship.
2008 was the year I went headfirst into research and by 2009 I was writing, speaking, and promoting digital citizenship. I was a School of Education Associate Professor in Connecticut with an interest in middle level education. As a former middle school teacher and principal, I have always personalized my curriculum and instruction to match the developmental needs of young adolescents. Social media was the topic of conversation for our teens, so I began to embed social media tools into my teacher preparation courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
During the fall of 2009, I was invited into a third grade classroom to participate in a student tech event. As I sat on a rug with several students on their netbooks, they asked me to spell my name as they proceeded to check if I was making socially responsible decisions online.
This was the first time I was conscious of anyone doing a search on me. What would they find? Luckily, I grew up in the 80’s and my adolescence was not permanently captured online. The third graders could only find evidence of my work as a university faculty member, but this made me very aware that I had a responsibility to help prepare future teachers to meet the needs of today’s networked students. I spent that year creating and developing the first three-credit digital citizenship course specifically focused on digital citizenship in the country.
By the fall of 2010, I was teaching the new digital citizenship course. At around the same time, a tragic incident involving social media, homophobia, and invasion of privacy happened. Tyler Clementi, a college freshmen at Rutgers, took his own life after he found that his roommate was posting videos of his personal encounters. There have been many suicides that have affected me, but for the first time, it became personal. I blogged about it, Dinosaurs and Tiaras: Facing Intolerance:
I did not know Tyler, but his suicide made me determined to focus on a solution. Tyler Clementi could be my son, your son. He was a brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend and neighbor. This perspective launched me into uncharted territory. I am the mother of a son. What if this was my son? What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? How can I make a difference?
As a result, I was determined to do more and began created and developed a new course for a First Year Seminar Course for incoming college freshmen, Pleased to Tweet You: Are You a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen? I was hoping that the course would create a student solution towards cyberbullying. A year later during the fall of 2011, I connected my college freshmen in Connecticut with high school juniors in Alabama through social media to collaborate on our Pleased to Tweet You project. What happened next has defined my passion and commitment to student voice in this critical conversation. Both classes went beyond a student solution towards cyberbullying, they defined citizenship in the 21st century through their iCitizen Project. Together they learned the difference between being an active citizen not just a resident, an enabler of change not just a bystander. They focused on empathy and learned the importance of humanizing the person next to them, as well as across the screen.
It comes as no surprise that student voice has been the impetus for launching me on my digital citizenship journey. Amplifying student voice has always been at the core of my beliefs and the reason behind wanting to host and moderate the first digital citizenship (#digcit) chat on Twitter as a part of my digital citizenship course.
In one year, the third graders and Tyler Clementi inspired me to create and develop courses specific to digital citizenship at both the undergraduate and graduate level, host and moderate the first digital citizenship (#digcit) chat on Twitter and plan and organize my first livestreamed event, The iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting which is the first chapter and foundation for the Digital Citizenship Summit. Both events connected multiple stakeholders including students, educators, parents, business leaders, concerned citizens to push forward new ideas and positive and practical solutions around the safe, savvy and ethical use of technology.
Since the iCitizen Project, my digital citizenship journey has continued as I’ve engaged more students to be part of the solution by making digital citizenship a verb through livestreamed events like The iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting which was the first chapter and foundation for the Digital Citizenship Summit. Both events connected multiple stakeholders including students, educators, parents, business leaders, concerned citizens to push forward new ideas and positive and practical solutions around the safe, savvy and ethical use of technology.
I have that third grade classroom, Tyler Clementi and my own undergraduate and graduate students to credit for my transformation and commitment to helping others be the digital change.
passionate about empowering students around the world with positive and practical solutions. An international speaker and named one of the Top 10 Digital Citizenship bloggers to follow in 2014 by Common Sense Media, Curran co-founded (2011) and moderates the digital citizenship #digcit chat on Twitter and also serves on the leadership team for the Digital Citizenship PLN through ISTE.
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mbfxc LinkedIn Website Digital Citizenship Summit
Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.
“The New Hollywood” celebrates our "failures" as much as we celebrate our successes. I mean we've all done it--we've tailored our social media to show how fabulous we are and how amazing everything is -- our digital doppelgangers. Well, let’s get real now: TNH wants to share a slice of how some of our members deal with failure--or deal with those times that we make a mistake, fall short, or just plain land flat on our butts! We hope this inspires you to share what you've learned and to keep rising higher, shining brighter, and giving back. Part of this blog’s inspiration comes from a powerful book we are reading as a group this year called "Rising Strong," by Brene Brown. It dives into these falls and the ins and outs of getting back up--the reckoning, the rumble and the revolution! Brene offers an incredible personal and specific perspective on the human condition of actually picking ourselves up off the ground after falling.
“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to apprea more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness-actually depends on the integration of ALL our experiences, including the falls.” –Brene Brown.
TNH Board Member Alexis Carra Girbés:
To fail or not to fail-- that is the question? Well, 10 years ago I would have said the objective is not to fail, but then again that's when I considered the pursuit of showing how amazing I was, and how perfect I could be as one that had merit--now, in my mid 30's thank God I am not in my early 20's anymore! It takes failing a lot to realize that. It takes practice to fail, and some failures are harder to stomach than others. My biggest failure was actually a personal relationship ending. It was not easy to take responsibility for my part. So now I choose to see failure not as something showing weakness or lack of talent, or whatever other flaw I have, but rather as a chance to show that I can get back up; a chance to inspire myself again, learn from the mistakes, and perhaps make a difference in supporting others to do the same along the way. I actually see failure as a way of reminding me how brave I am.
TNH Member Stephanie Olivieri:
A few years ago I was working as both an artist and a writer. I was making more money in art, and things were going okay. I had moved up to Seattle to take a teaching position at an art college, but that fell through for various reasons. I felt like a failure of course, but there wasn’t an actual failure there. I applied for a job doing illustrations for a company doing children’s books. I was told that I had the job, it was mine and yay, I could actually pay my bills and draw for a living, even from Seattle. Well, then the director of the project told me that I wasn’t what they wanted, and they were going to resend the offer. UGH-another failure. I moved all the way up there and failed twice. I went to Trader Joe’s crying, bought a bottle of red wine and some gorgonzola chips. The cashier asked me what was wrong, I told her, “I’m an artist and a writer, I moved all the way up here from L.A. and lost both job opps, now I have nothing and am going to be homeless.” She smiled and said, “we need a sign artist, talk to the manager.” So I did and got that job, but it wasn’t nearly enough to cover anything. I posted about it in my own way on social media, “it’s like putting a band-aid on the Titanic, but, at least, it gets me out of the house.” A friend of a friend of a friend saw and knew that I had TV writing experience, so a contract was drawn up, and I moved back to L.A. because I was hired as a new show creator and writer for a studio down here. If I hadn’t of failed at the other two, that wouldn’t have happened.
You might think that those aren’t really failures, but they are in a way. This is why I don’t consider anything a failure, but rather an opportunity. As an actress, artist and writer, I can tell you that I “fail” or get “rejected” weekly, it’s part of the deal when living the creative life. I have applied for many animation jobs that I didn’t get and then something else came along, or I failed at this or that, and then I met someone great because of it, got a better gig, or something, it always works out.
TNH Member: Tawnia McKiernan
Failure is the key to success. I think when you try to make the most of your life and try new things-- failure is a part of that journey. In work, being an Episodic Director, I have to put myself out there every time I direct an episode. And because the medium I work in is purely subjective, I have a huge margin for failure. One time I directed an episode and did the best I could, which is all that can be asked right? Well No, I was not asked back to the show because my bosses did not like my vision. This happen to me two more times. I felt like a big failure, and had lost my mojo. I would never work again! Each of these experiences taught me something and I was able to pick myself up again and succeed.
TNH Founder: Brianna Brown
When I was a little girl I would have a lot of temper tantrums. I felt things so deeply and I didn't have the tools to manage my vast emotional range. My mom not knowing what else to do to help me, then gave me a porcelain heart with the serenity prayer written on it. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference." I read it multiple times growing up...but I didn't really get it.
When I was in high school I had a teacher I highly admired who pulled me aside when I was going through a hard time and told me to try and be like a willow tree. I didn't quite understand the analogy but I knew I needed to be more fluid through the inevitable tides of life. I still didn't really get it.
For someone who craves routine and certainty I chose a crazy career in a transient town. I jokingly have told people that I have my degree in hard knocks and my PhD in rejection. I joke, but it is also true. Being a working actress for over fifteen years has been a constant stream of heartbreaking no's and getting myself up off the ground, wiping my tears of despair and moving forward...again. The mind games and insecurity that this non-linear career path breeds isn't for the weak, because it often times can habitualize destructive habits to cope with the constant state of unknown. What I have learned about failure over the years, and after putting in my 10,000 hours, is that there is actually a flow to life when I am still enough to listen and be present. When I get the fuck out of my head, when I grieve my loses fully (and healthily), and when I let go and let God. I work smart, I am strategic and I've made it a point to always try my best, be of integrity and learn from my mistakes. I've learned that the person who hurts me the most when I (seemingly) fail... is myself. And the harder I try to motivate myself (by punishing myself) the more difficult it is for me to get back up and confidently move forward.
We all walk around this planet with battle scars. It's not easy to detect the kinks in one’s armor nowadays with the constant highlight reel vomited at all of us via social media—perfect pictures with retouching, filters and showcasing a dazzling life that oftentimes masks unseen tears in bathroom stalls, unbearable heartbreak and obsessive self-criticism because we can't compete or relate to the facade of others. We are now able to peer into everyone's life more easily but it is oftentimes smoke and mirrors and reinforces an ideal of perfection that can never fully be attained. Trust me, I know I have been able to see behind the curtain. The wealthiest, most beautiful, most talented people...do not have it all, all the time. No one is immune to the wounds of life. Some injuries we have taken time to heal and we are stronger in that area that was initially broken, some areas we protect and hide from the world because the pain was so deep and we can't imagine exposing that vulnerability ever again.
What I've learned about failure is that it can be a tool for growth. No one is perfect. Everyone is flawed, insecure and scared. Everyone wants to be appreciated, acknowledged and loved. We are complex beings on a crazy adventure that we co-create. It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to fall down. And it's okay to slowly stumble back onto our feet. When I've allowed that process to unfold, I inevitably look back and I am grateful for the hardships... because I learned so much. Every failure is an opportunity to grow and learn. Once I shifted my perspective around what I can not control, once I learned to be grounded yet flow with the breeze, once I really understood that life is for me, not against me...I finally got it.
My relationship to failure relates to how I hate feeling afraid. Once I got over being afraid and understood that it was a sign of being invested, I didn’t care as much about failing. I didn’t even experience it as failure anymore. The biggest fall I had was when I had to file for bankruptcy. I had a business fail and fell on bad times. I felt totally worthless; but I got through it, with a lot of support, and now I am 100% debt free, about to buy a home and have a thriving practice. Sometimes failing is the only option and I believe in God and that things happen for a reason. I guess my reason was to finally become financially literate. I wouldn’t want to relive that time, but I know I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t learned what I did from hitting rock bottom.
TNH Husband & Supporter, Christopher Girbés-Pierce, CFP
I remember seeing a Michael Jordan poster when I was a kid and I’ve never forgotten it. It has inspired me when I have moments of doubt or when I feel I’ve made a mistake. It was and is still a positive reminder that even the most successful people have gone through it. I’ve had those game winner chokes as well, but remembering this poster has always helped me keep perspective.
TNH Board Member: Pina De Rosa
This is my go to video. I love it!
TNH Member Tracy Samson
My older sister is a runner. She has done half marathons, marathons and half Ironmans. I live in California and she lives in Michigan. 11 years ago she asked me if I wanted to do a Sprint Triathlon with her when I came to visit in the summer. For some reason I said yes. (Maybe it has to be that she is my big sis and I tend to still listen to her even as an adult!) A Sprint Triathlon is Swim 500 meters/ Bike- 15 miles/ Run 3.1 miles. It wasn't like I was in BAD shape...but there is a difference (that I found out about later) between exercising to look good in jeans and training to perform well in a race. Let me also state that I had never actually done a race of ANY kid, not even a 5k fun run. This would be my very first race. All I said to her was that I don't want to be last. (She laughed that off.) So my way of training was to run on a treadmill, swim in a pool and to ride the bike in the gym. Never mind the fact that the race was on a trail and in a lake. (I tend to be a bit of an optimist.)
So I am now in Michigan. We rent a bike and I end up having to borrow a wetsuit from one of my sisters friends because the temperature dropped and they were required. (I have never worn one in my life.) So my sister explains transitions and I am ready to go. She said not to bolt out of the gate. (The one time I DONT listen to her)
The gun goes off. I was not prepared for the adrenaline rush when that happened. I bolted to the water. I got kicked and shoved and then when I hit the water the wetsuit felt like it was strangling me. I had my first panic attack in an open water swim with hundreds of people. I remember thinking "How can I rip this wetsuit off without drowning?!" I obviously didn't drown but I had to get through so much self talk to get done with the swimming portion. When I got to the bike transition I sat down. I was done. I felt like such a failure. My sister does everything so well and I have a panic attack in a 500 meter swim! Total loser!!
Then my sister comes running up (she just finished the swim portion). She encouraged me just to finish and that she would stay with me. (I do have one amazing sister). I told her that I didn't want to ruin her time. She said she didn't care about her time...that she wanted to race with me. So then there we are on our bikes together and then running together. It was really hard. But I did it because she believed in me and wouldn't let me quit.
So now the finish line is nearing. As we get to the finish line together my sister pulls back a beat so I am not last. She let me cross before her. (Did I mention who amazing my sis is?)
This event changed me. I learned about putting the hard work in to achieve what you want to achieve. How helping others achieve their goals can be even better than achieving yours all the time. Since that time I have done several half marathons, a marathon, tough mudders, spartans and best of all....I have encouraged others to do the same. Paying it forward like my sister did for me.
What is my sister up to now? She qualified and is going to Boston this year!! I asked her for some race swag. She said no....that I would get it when I qualify for Boston and we do it together! Always my big sister, always my biggest inspiration!
TNH Member Andrea Bogart:
Failure to me when is when I fall short of doing my best and often let self doubt get in the way or bad habits distract me of me thriving in my element. Identifying what I allow to get in the way of me doing my best is my way to succeed and not stress over what one refers to as "failure." Failures, for me, are awakenings to self-awareness and moments to celebrate if we can shift our perspective in this way
But then why can failing FEEL so crappy? It isn’t as easy as “hocus-pocus, and now I see this big bad thing that just happened and that hurts as a success!!!”
Well that’s the part that you can’t skip, and having a community to share what you’re going through can really help. As Brené talks about in her book, you can’t get around the feeling part of it to turn that failure inside out. So get cozy, open up a journal, or call a friend and vent. Get curious about your feelings and get real with them. Sometimes, ok most of the time, the person we have to reckon with the most during a tough time is our self.
If you want to delve further into this, check out Brené Brown’s book and stay involved with TNH in our online community. You can sign our pledge and connect with us through our newsletter and events! In the meantime, let it be messy, and we hope you share the mess and the cleanup with us!
Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.