Digital Citizenship - Status Anxiety and Keeping up with the Joneses.

The main inspiration for this double assembly is both the excellent series and the breakdown of this episode of Black Mirror. If you don’t know what Black Mirror is then check out the series on Netflix or your downloading place of choice to get a copy. 

The breakdown of S3E1 Nosedive. 

The episode of choice is series 3 episode 1: Nosedive. It tracks and tells the story of Lacie, a woman caught up in the world of social media and over sharing to get ‘likes’ so she can somehow improve her life through the eyes of others. In fact, it's not just Lacie, everyone is at it and everyone (well nearly everyone who is caught up in this mess - its’ almost akin to the Star Trek episode ‘The Game’ where everyone is addicted to a specific game ) is caught up in it. What amplifies this is the tech involved. Nearly everyone wears some kind of contact lens that instantly profiles the person in front or around you. While this profiling is going on, their social score is highlighted above them as in the image below.

Edited video screnshot: The scores people have as part of the online status they have - as seen through the lens.

Edited video screnshot: The scores people have as part of the online status they have - as seen through the lens.

Interacting with this lens is their phone. The phone dials up a Facebook-like page with the person’s activity and this is the beginning and end of all ‘meaningful’ interactions - anything outside of the social stream, as shown by this lift scene, is seriously awkward.

Social profile as seen through the lens and phone

Social profile as seen through the lens and phone

The point to all this is that this episode, the first 15-20 mins at least amplifies the sheer nonsensical aspect to online social streams where they take over every facet of life. When you ask the children: what’s the point to all these streams and posts? They say to talk, to share to let your friends see what you're doing. And this is fine - however when you ask: are your friends there too? Teens tend to get somewhat defensive over this line of questioning. However, this is aimed at years 5 and 6. They half agree that there isn't any use to this over sharing. And this is key. It's key because it shows us that not only does this open a dialogue as to how to protect young kids, I would argue that this type of conversation could go a hell of a lot younger - like 4 and 5 years old. Maybe not with this kind of material, but with the very concept of understanding consequences of  being suceptible in this way. I mean, we used to talk in the phone when we were younger. Albeit, for hours sometimes. But this wasn’t to everyone all the time with a giant hailer, in public. I think you get my drift.

The video I’ve clipped and heavily edited has taken all the errant language out and the ending where it gets very sweary. The assembly also has no reference to the actual programme in case it’s shown at home or parent’s Netflix streams show the thumbnails - hence the name: Status Anxiety.

The assemblies are in two parts using one slideshow. In the speaker notes are all the topic type stuff I covered in case you are wondering about context and where you might want to put this in your Digital Citizenship frame of reference.

The slideshow also alludes to the stress that social media puts on us whether we are aware of it or not. Using Lacie as an example, as too, Chester. There are implications to social networking in the way we use it now and in the video which the children supposed was in about 10-15 years time. *I was argued down by a very astute 11 year old due to the lenses in Lacie's eyes!

Today more than ever people feel like they must keep up with the Joneses (take the restaurants whose decor decks many an Instagram feed - the food, as in scene one of Nosedive, is probably as bland as the posts are vapid). So, the pressure is on to post and not miss out, to make our lives look as happening as the next person and to paste a veneer on a scene in a vain attempt to polish an otherwise run-of-the-mill experience. It's the online equivalence of the Mexican wave.  

There is untold pressure on teens to over share where social assurances and fitting in is currency. This stress, and any stress for that matter, produces cortisol an inhibitor if constantly applied and this, however small, affects our learning centers: the Hippocampus. 

Now, without getting all Mumsnet/ Daily Mail on you here, there are growing amounts of scientific evidence from studies (below) that can prove benefits and, of course, negatives of human behaviours associated with social networks. And, in this instance, we must take our audience into consideration, that it is crucial. I outline this in the assembly to underline bias and that social media has its merits too as laid out by Junco et al 2011. And, by virtue of the fact that we celebrate children's schievements this way too.

“One hypothesis is that social media sites may serve as a source of stress that contribute to elevated anxiety symptoms and related impairment in emerging adults. Indeed, Facebook use has been associated with activation of the physiological stress response (Mauri et al., 2011). Facets of social media use that may directly elicit stress responses include: (1) receiving negative feedback or cyber-bullying from peers; (2) becoming more aware of stressful events occurring in other people’s lives; and (3) internalizing the pressure to maintain social network updates (Valkenburg and Peter, 2009; Hampton et al., 2014; Rose and Tynes 2015).

To end, at our school we take a lot of pride in the pastoral care that the children are under therefore, it is also key to point out that this anxiety is a real issue (seen in quite a few seniors I teach) as with any kind of stress a young person is going through and that the causes can be remedied through early guidance.

Click image for game.

Click image for game.

To maintain some level of follow-up with the follow-on assemblies with this this topic we had a quick game on Kahoot (Link to game). Mostly to compound the ideas brought forward and as a huge talking point and eeking out further understanding not just of Lacie’s issues but of Chester’s too. What kind of life does he have now that opinion has left him jobless and quite possibly homeless?

Sources: "The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement" Computers & Education 58 (2011) 162–171

"Social media use and anxiety in emerging adults" Journal of affective Disorders