“THIS I BELIEVE” | KATHERINE DELUCA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, UMASS DARTMOUTH, 2018
I believe that the lives we live online matter to the lives we live offline. The words, the memes, the videos—all of the texts and forms of communication that shape our multimodal experiences and everyday literacies have impacts on our lives that extend beyond the 280 characters of a tweet, the caption of an Instagram photo, or the number of seconds set for friends to view a snap.
I believe we sometimes forget how much our online lives and offline lives intertwine: that the snap story recorded on a Friday night might come up in church on Sunday, depending, of course, on who is on your follower list. We forget that, just as in our offline lives, the things we say and do in online spaces matter. These actions and communications can influence other peoples’ lives, their experiences, and their feelings. I believe we have an ethical obligation to each other, especially as digital citizens, to consider the impact that sharing a meme or retweeting a tweet could have on other people.
But as our lives across these spaces frequently intertwine, and as the notion of “IRL” being something different from what we do online continues to transform, we not only face great responsibility to each other but also great opportunity. As digital activism movements like #blacklivesmatter and #metoo have shown us, there are opportunities to shape and create the world around us through digital communications—changing our worlds both online and offline. As events like the 2016 presidential election and the phenomenon of “fake news” has shown us, digital communications have the power to shape our country’s policies, politics, and future.
I believe it is important for all of us, as digital citizens, to engage with our identities and communications critically and ethically. What we do online matters—for the lives we lead across spaces.