This post is written by Maha Bali and is cross-listed between and

flickr photo shared by ** RCB ** under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


When we practice digital citizenship or foster it in our students, how do we define it? On whose terms do we encourage it?

When we enact our digital citizenship on Twitter, we are complying to a 140 character limit – or stretching it, or challenging it, depending how you use it. But we are sound-biting our expression.

When we enact our digital citizenship in a particular language, what does this mean?

As an academic, what does it mean that I express my anger at injustice in a poem (conveniently entitled “I’m Not Angry at You”; conveniently widely shared by the people I am NOT angry at, and not, of course, the ones I AM angry at). What does it mean to express ourselves that way instead of more formally, more academically? What does it mean to express ourselves that way instead of in more concrete ways, more embodied ways, like going out into the street and helping someone, like actually fundraising to help others, like actually welcoming someone into our own homes? What does it mean that I can express myself about international events online but am cautious to do so about local ones?

When we think about promoting a digital literacy of criticality, do we also remember the need to foster empathy? Do we recognize that sometimes, in our zeal to help students question, we may also be hampering their capacity to truly listen to the “other” with an open mind? Do we recognize the limits of promoting empathy digitally, and do we explicitly work to help ourselves and others bring that back into our daily, embodied lives? Do we recognize, deep in our heart and mind and gut, that rationality is not necessarily the highest value, and that sometimes, morality needs to override it?

Little examples that got me going:

So what is your digital citizenship? Where are examples of people enacting their digital citizenship that you admire? What are examples of your own digital citizenship that you wish you would do more of? But also – what would your ideal digital citizenship look like? Or in what ways is your digital citizenship incomplete , imperfect, flawed?

Write it on paper, do something at work, create a gif, write a poem, do whatever you think is right, express yourself in your own way, listen to someone you haven’t truly listened to to someone you wouldn’t normally have talked to… question something, cry with someone,  live or imagine or dream… and if you’re comfortable with sharing, share it as a comment here or as a tweet to #MyDigCiz #DigCiz this week. Or respond to someone else’s.