Grace and Digital Citizenship

Which kind of ignorance is worse? Digital ignorance? Or analog ignorance? A conversation between a Digital Immigrant (DI) mother and her two Digital Native (DN) daughters, field notes taken by a digital bystander, illuminates the issue.

DI: This whole “Undo” thing? I’m just not conversant with that.
DNs: Well, what do you do when you make a mistake?
DI: Cry… Swear…
DNs: No, really. What do you do?
DI: I hit “file, exit.”
DNs: But then you can’t save the changes if you blew it.
DI: Right. I hit “Don’t Save.”
DNs: But that’s ridiculous. Then you lose everything you didn’t save before you made the mistake.
DI: Right. Well, I don’t want to save the big mistake, do I? I can always re-do the stuff I know I did.
DNs: That’s such a waste of time. And so unnecessary.
DI: Undo is perhaps a good thing…
DNs: Yeah… So simple… SO simple…
DI: Well, what do I have, in terms of knowing, that you don’t have? What does Grandma have?
DNs: Sewing. On a sewing machine. Cooking homemade stuff… And recipes for that.
DI: Oh yeah. Recipes! I’ve seen you guys. Let’s see… it says 1 teaspoon but I want to DOUBLE the recipe… (long pause; cringing face) What do I do, again??
DNs: (laughing) Well, Stephanie DID win at the Friends Scene-It game today. I totally give her props. She had mad competition.

Ultimately, we’re all looking for a world in which the “undo” feature is unnecessary. In the meantime, we locate our arenas of competence and settle into the world of “do,” hoping that the grace of “undo” – or at least tech support – will mitigate our errors.

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