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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3 Comments

  1. Terri

    I know what you're talking about, and it always boggles my mind. It's one thing to think "That didn't work for us" or "Their worldview doesn't mesh with mine" or even "I had a bad customer service experience" or "I don't like their policies and don't want to support them" and that sort of thing could be totally legitimate for any HS company out there .... but the level of sheer vitriol that you guys can get there at Well Known Internet Forum absolutely mystifies me. I mean, it's *personal.*

    And I say that as someone whose worldview doesn't perfectly line up with your guys'. (And that's totally okay in my book.)

  2. Thanks, Terri. What and how we teach our kids is important--that's one of the reasons we homeschooling <smile>--so I get the concern. But I don't like the meanness. I'd rather we exhort each other upward, you know? And I'm okay with our worldviews not perfectly matching. There's something really good about iron sharpening iron...

    ~Luke

  3. Terri

    You know, on the other hand -- it means that you are touching people deeply, for either good or bad.

    There are a lot of curriculum companies out there whose products don't (cannot?) inspire such vitriol, because they also cannot inspire much of a deep reaction either way? You can only fail big if you shoot big, I guess.