I recently shared this C. S. Lewis quote in my |n|otabilia newsletter:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. (C. S. Lewis)

A friend wrote back:

“It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”  Thoughts from today’s conservatives, exactly.

Fair enough. But what interested me in the quote wasn’t that it represented a justification for supporting Trump and Co. The terrifying part is that we don’t even get this choice of two societal evils. What we have now is both: the robber baron’s innate cruelty in sympathetic vibration with the desires of the moral busybodies. And thanks to our current regime’s manipulation of the judiciary, the long-term consequences are dire.

I foresee America becoming (effectively) a theocracy. Perhaps the true theocrat then will sneer at its impurity, diluted by the diversity of Christian thought. But it’s a possibility I’m glad I won’t be around to see anywhere near the worst of. As I responded to my friend:

I’m surprised by your optimism, but happy and envious that you possess it.
 
I think there’s plenty-enough commonality in Christianity across a broad enough swathe of people that supporting what is effectively a theocracy is not only plausible, but likely. 
 
And younger people turn into conservatives as they age, which provides a broad base happy enough to live in collusion with more than enough of the common Christian positions as long as their fiscal priapism is constantly stroked.
 
Personally, I foresee a future of bloody coat hangers, closed borders, continued and exacerbated structural racism, the same deep fiscal inequity we already have, a social net slit from ear to ear, and deep intolerance…all supported by a corrupted judiciary.
 
The American experiment was a good one. It isn’t over. But the traditionally democratic part of it—and the attempt to rationalize some kind of permeous membrane between church and state—likely is.
 
And, honestly, this is my charitable assessment because I can’t live with the darker one. I understand (generally, at least) the arguments for optimism, but I don’t *believe* in their conclusion. I wish I did.

Summer has finally arrived here in the north, which means it must be time for me to have to stay inside too much, tapping away at the keyboard, teaching another edition of ED 654 – Digital Citizenship, etc. (AKA Nousion)

The first few weeks of the course are pretty sedate, with Nousionauts selecting and setting up their domains, installing WordPress and learning to post, outfitting their Twitter accounts, etc. But that just gives me even more time to dwell on the heart of darkness in the course: the whole troublesome concept of the retronym “digital citizenship.” What is it? Does it even exist? Does the prefix “digital” do anything useful?

Like “digital pedagogy,” I think digital citizenship, if it has any meaningful existence, is a function of the differential space between what can be done—and how we can live and be—in and amongst the digital that isn’t possible outside or deprived of it. Also like digital pedagogy, this seems more like a nice philosophical idea to muse about than one with a practical existence. Where such differentiation is being articulated, it seems firmly rooted at the safety and procedures stage of what Katia Hildebrandt and Alec Couros called Digital Citizenship 1.0.

Don’t get me wrong: citizenship is very clearly a thing beyond rules and policies. Joel Westheimer’s framework, which is a course reading, articulates just one of many ways in which citizenship can be conceived as process, agency, identity, collaboration, etc. I’ve just not seen, or figured out, anything which convinces me that the “digital” prefix is particularly useful beyond the 1.0 level.

This seems illustrated by the common conception when teaching about digital citizenship (and I use it too) that there is a kind of series, increasing in sophistication and importance, from digital skills to digital literacy to digital citizenship (with many permutations that modify the prefix—digital or web or information, oh my). But this often strikes me as categorical confusion, particularly at this model’s third stage, and beyond (fluency, anyone?) because it feels true to my experience that the divide between literacy and fluency or skills/literacy and citizenship marks a deep difference in kind.

Perhaps digital citizenship is simply useful as a term to avoid overloading those other terms, which is part of my argument for the using the phrase information fluency. But in that case I continue to feel that the difference isn’t the digital part, but the citizenship part: the part of being a passive or active, a less or more informed, a more or less visible person-in-the-world, some of which is potentially enhanced by technology, but is also often wounded by it.

A solid episode of Lingthusiasm (one of my podcast staples; I support them) on the fascinating topic of so-called “unstranslatables.” Gretchen and Lauren hit all the important points, including the wrongness of the label “untranslatable,” some reasonable theories as to why so many are attracted to them and more. I might quibble a bit with reductive assertions like “cozy” and “hygge” being the same…because there are reasons we have synonyms—and limits inherent in thesauruses—and because…poetry.