What YouTube Teaches Us About Socialization

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Years ago a web comic brought us an excellent idea for YouTube: We should force people to listen to their comment before it is posted. I mentioned this last year when discussing seeking validation on the internet. This came to mind today when, after a decade of being the Star Wars Kid, the Star Wars Kid has now spoken to reporters about his experience. The part that jumped out me was all the comments suggesting he kill himself.

I get that people do mean and stupid stuff when cloaked by anonymity. But clearly the problem is deeper than simply having a digital megaphone and a username. The problem is us. If YouTube teaches us anything about socialization, it is that people--both children and adults--can be cruel, especially if they can "get away with it." You don't have to read Lord of the Flies to understand that.

This morning I wandered into another dark corner of the internet. It's a popular forum where people routinely criticize and mock Sonlight. I am never driven there by my own curiosity, but occasionally I am alerted to a thread I should glance at. So I do. And I usually come away discouraged. These intelligent and well-meaning homeschoolers rag on our approach, our products, and even our character. There is no building up. There is no spurring on.

As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to socialize properly--to train our children to interact in a manner fit for society. The unfortunate reality is that much of society acts in a manner other than this. Kids are especially mean in school. May your family, both online and out in the world, be winsome ambassadors for Christ because of your time learning at home (see goal #5 here).

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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