Thursday, September 30, 2010

LETTER - ‘Digirata’: Enjoy the Web - Published in Taipei Times, October 1, 2010

Dear Editor,

Helen Pidd’s recent Guardian article from the UK about cyberstalking and cyberbullying (“Tackling faceless abusers,” Sept. 27, 2010, page 9) was an important wake-up call about how the Internet must be monitored more diligently in the digital age.

In keeping with popular concerns over Internet use and abuse, including Internet addiction to online games, I wrote a short text to use as an educational tool in classrooms worldwide and it’s being translated into Chinese now as well. It’s called “Digirata” and is modeled as an homage to Max Erhmann’s famous 1927 poem Desiderata.

The purpose of writing an update for the digital age is to help students and teachers ponder the very issues that Pidd wrote about at length in her article. The text reads:

Go placidly amid the hot links and the distractions, and remember what peace there may be in unplugging.

As far as possible be on good terms with all persons online and never, never flame others or engage in any kind of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

Key in your truths quietly and clearly; and read what others have to say, too, even the dull and the ignorant; for they too have their stories and ideas to impart, even if you disagree.

Avoid angry and aggressive flamers and out of control cyberbullies, for they are vexations to the spirit of the Internet.

If you compare your blog with other blogs that are better and have more visitors, you may become vain and bitter, so just enjoy your own blog for what it is and don’t worry abut the big guys. Enjoy your online achievements, as well as your plans for future downtime.

Keep interested in your own blogging, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in who you give your personal details to; for the world is full of trickery and Nigerian scams waiting to part you from your money.

Be yourself when you are online, or, if it so pleases you, adopt a persona. Use your real name or a pseudonym for your userid, and let no one steal your password, especially those pesky phishers.

Take kindly the counsel of your fellow bloggers and gracefully chat with your Facebook friends in real time. But don’t over do it, and always take time out to unplug and enjoy a weekly ‘Internet sabbath.’

You are a child of the Digital Age, no less than the spam and the pixels; and you have every right to blog to your heart’s content.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt cyberspace is unfurling as it should. Well, sort of, and you are part of the great equation, whatever that might turn out to be.

Therefore be at peace with Amazon and Yahoo, and make of your Kindles and your nooks what you will.

Whatever your labors and your aspirations, in the multitasking distractions of cyberspace keep peace with your soul — if you still have one.

Remember: With all its sham, mattdrudgery and quirky keyboards, it is still a beautiful online world.

Be cheerful. Be careful, too. Use the smiley emoticon as much as possible, and strive to be a happy camper. Unplug often.”

Published in the Taipei Times:
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