Thursday, January 25, 2007

Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us....

We all have lice, image from Flickr originally uploaded by Antonia Pneumonia. see oursel's as others see us. So wrote Robert Burns in his famous poem 'To a Louse' which is often used in an allegorical way to describe how the mighty fall. As yet another Burns Night draws to a close, it seemed somehow apt to quote the Bard somewhere in this post.

I love the phrase 'too see ourselves as others see us' - it reminds me of Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby from The Water Babies. And this is a philosophy by which I have tried to live my life. Hence I believe in the altruistic beliefs that led to the HUGToB campaign last year.

It also gives rise to a quite different notion - how do others see us? And how do we choose to let others see us?

I am perfectly happy for this Blog to be representative to others of the sort of person that I am. I am lucky in that after trawling around the Internet searching for websites on which I can be found, I could not find a single entry that I regretted - not even my posts to the BBC making some pedantic complaint about my favourite TV show!

Bill Thomson makes an interesting post in which he discusses the way today's young people treat their Myspace account as disposable if they forget their password. They prefer to create a new account in such circumstances - whereas many people of my generation would covet their Myspace site having nurtured it over time and would rather jump into a shower with Michael Winner than lose the site they have cultivated. The interesting point he makes is that MySpaces huge membership numbers may actually be being bolstered by a large number of young people registering a new account having ditched their old one.

Another aspect of this is the phenomenon of 'facebooking' where young people use the facebook website to observe changes in social relationships. This site also allows employers to find out about job applicants or parents to find out details about their daughter's new boyfriend!

I am anxious that young people cannot cope with this sort of technology - no matter how much of a Digital Native they may be - as was illustrated by 3 female pupils of mine several years ago.

In the early days of social networking sites they created, at the age of 12, a joint site which contained many candid photographs of themselves and friends. The name these 12 year olds chose to give themselves? Dirtylittleteenagesluts! I was alerted to this site by a concerned pupil whose image had been put on the site without her permission (in the end this was the case for at least 20 other girls). Silly decisions such as those are what can make social networking sites such a dangerous place for young people and its this personal experience that has led me to my stand on the use of such sites in my school. Nice to see this 'mom' has decided to subscribe to MySpace to see how the site ticks and in order to keep an eye on what her children are doing there. Way to go mom!

Social networking is a powerful tool but in some cases, some young people just aren't equipped to handle it. We need to enable them to handle such tools in a better way and portray themselves in the way they would like people to think of them in years to come. In fact Burns couldn't have put it better when he wrote: 'For a' that, an' a' that, Their dignities an' a' that, The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth, Are higher rank than a' that.'

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