As I dig more deeply into social media and the world of technology, I am continuously awed at how effective technology can be in bringing people together. This week, my ECMP class had the privilege of “meeting” Amanda Todd’s mother, Carol Todd. For those of you who don’t know, Amanda Todd was a young girl who was mercilessly bullied on and offline as a result of a picture that she took of herself. Eventually, the sextortion and cyberstalking that Amanda endured day after day led to her decision to take her own life. Her mother, Carol, has since started “The Amanda Todd Legacy,” and aims to educate others on internet safety, mental health awareness, and cyberbullying.
During her talk, Carol shared a mix of personal anecdotes about Amanda, information about her case, and her own thoughts and analogies on education and digital citizenship. My classmate Kerrie Craske does a wonderful job of summarizing Carol’s talk, which you can read about in her post titled “The Legacy Continues.” All of Carol’s talk was meaningful, but what I found to be most incredible was the overall positive attitude she continues to hold, despite all the hardships she has had to face. During her talk, Carol told us a story about an internet troll who went out of his way to say some horrible things about her and the work that she does. Instead of arguing with the troll and stooping to his level, Carol chose to ask him why he felt the need to write such comments. This resulted in the man explaining his life to Carol, and he eventually got involved with the Amanda Todd Legacy. While this type of story does not seem like it would be the norm for every case of trolling, it reminds me of the quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I admire Carol’s ability to see past the negative and look for deeper meaning in every situation.
Carol’s positive attitude extends to the use of technology, as well. It would be easy to assume that someone whose daughter’s life was arguably ruined by the use of social media and the internet would be against it, but as an educator Carol understands the importance of teaching students to become responsible digital citizens, rather than scaring them away from technology altogether. She used a variety of thought-provoking analogies to explain the importance of teaching children how to use technology responsibly from a young age. One analogy that I think really speaks to Carol’s positive personality is one that can be found on the legacy’s website:
” We know that every snowflake in the world is unique and different. No two are the same. Snowflakes are fragile. Just like people. Snowflakes are unique. Just like people. Snowflakes are beautiful. Just like people. Don’t people deserve to be treated in the same way as snowflakes? No one should be made fun of regardless of who they are, what they look like, what they like to do or wear. We are all snowflakes. Everyone is special. No one should be BULLIED for being uniquely their own person.”
Carol’s passion for social justice was incredibly evident during her talk, and her messages are not ones I will soon forget. She reinforced the importance of teaching others to be positive digital citizens, and the importance of being kind to one another, no matter what.