web 2.0 suicide: are your students on the digital ledge?

The term social suicide is one that has been around for awhile. I looked up the most popular definition on The Urban Dictionary and this is the one that rose to the top:

SOCIAL SUICIDE: commiting an act or acts that alienates one from their social scene or social circleto kill one’s social life

Example: John commited social suicide by asking out his ex-girlfriends best friend barely a week after they broke up.Example: Veronica is commiting social suicide by talking behind her friends backs.

One of the recent movies to delve into this subject of the birth and death of a social status is mean girls.  It’s fascinating to see what someone will do to rise to popularity.  Once the heroine battles her way up the chain, we begin to see that it’s inevitable when she will take a fall and when she does, she falls all the way below even the rejects of society. Interestingly enough, she realizes the stress and strain of maintaining her status and in the end lives in peace with playing the role she should have stayed with. She commits social suicide and becomes a mathlete and acknowledges that she even enjoys hanging out with the social rejects.  Social suicide…it’s an interesting concept.  And now, the term has found it’s way into the virtual social landscape.
For those people that can’t keep up with their web 2.0 status and constant digital chatter, they can commit social suicide via the suicidemachine.org.   It’s a site that literally allows those who have had enough with their digital social shadow to pull the plug, stand on the ledge and leap, say sianara…adios…hasta la vista…and pull the trigger on their online life story in a matter of an hour.  Now granted, you used to be able to “dismember” all your social networks including Facebook, but recently suicidemachine.org has reported that facebook has blocked their IP address.  However FB couldn’t stop the suicides on facebook from 500 people affecting over 50,000 friends. So now you can only delete your facebook profile, although if you re-engage you’ll see that your profile gets resuscitated immediately with no visible wounds or scars. However, you can still kill your other social identities on networks like NING, TWITTER, etc.
So my question,  what does this mean for students who are having to commit social web suicide because they can’t handle the pressure?  Social networking has come onto the scene so quickly that students often times feel the need to put everything out there about themselves in a desire to get social feedback instantly.  When that feedback or constant pressure to be connected begins to wear on them…they may make the decision to choose social suicide.  It’s important to help students know boundaries in this weird online social cafeteria of sorts.
Here are some helpful tips to get your started should you have the opportunity to talk with students about boundaries on the social networks:
  • Create online hours and offline hours—-one of my friends wrote on the pillows of our senior girls last year this quote that stayed in my mind forever—“Nothing good happens after midnight”.  That goes for the internet and even begins earlier…don’t go on the networks past 10.  Often times you start posting things or saying things that you would not want to be said and those comments can’t be erased very easily.
  • Take some digital breaks each week — If you begin to feel like your online presence is becoming demanding or even addictive, begin to schedule digital breaks or sabbaths.  Tell someone or even post in your status that you are “off this week” or “this day”.  Don’t let your profile or status own you.
  • Consider the legacy… It’s hard to believe that a digital presence could cause havoc on your physical presence but it can. Your digital fingerprint leaves a legacy…think about what your profile will say when you begin to try and shake it, or change it.

What other boundaries do you have or tell your students to think about when they are online? Share them below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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