My Digital Realization

As I draw closer to the end of my internship at Berkman, I realize that I’ve actually been here for more than seven weeks. I guess it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun… or really that when you’re this busy you don’t notice time anymore. But putting aside all the technical skills I have acquired in this period, I have also undergone a process of realization.

Two months ago I was just another Digital Native; clueless about what the term actually meant, the digital dossier I was accumulating and the extent to which my digital identity was expanding online. Like all my other friends, I would post my phone number and contact information online without pondering over the implication this could have on my privacy and never think twice about why I was texting a friend a seat away from me in class, rather than just talking to her. And never did I realize that I was probably spending more time in virtual spaces than in the ‘real’ ones.

But now all that has changed. At Berkman I have become acquainted with issues ranging from digital innovation to activism. I now more fully appreciate the time I spend with friends and colleagues in a restaurant while engaging in a face-to-face conversation. Having heard the accounts of people who have been sued by the RIAA – one of whom woke up one day to find a gun pointed at his head – I am now truly aware of the implications of online file sharing. (Something which I had been totally oblivious to in the past, as freely downloading copyrighted music is common in the areas in which I have lived).

And has this insight now restricted the way I interact online?

Definitely not. In fact, it has just made me a more knowledgeable Digital Native. Having spent time on both ends of the spectrum, I now recognize how important it is for all Digital Natives to be more informed about the repercussions of their online actions. And this is where the role of those guardians raising Digital Natives really comes to light – if parents and educators are oblivious to the digital world then it is basically impossible for them to educate Digital Natives about how they should regulate their online behavior. But, fortunately, tools are now being provided to them to do so, through mediums such as the Digital Natives project.

And so in many ways I am going back home not only a more informed Digital Native, but also almost an advocate for the cause of greater education and awareness. How far I succeed in doing so is yet to be seen but, as they say, it never hurts to try.

-Kanupriya Tewari