David After 5 Years

3/12/2009 11:35:00 pm

One of my students came into class today and wanted to share a funny video with the class. I had already seen it and I laughed too; at first. Then I got to thinking.

This video has gone viral; over 15 million views to date.

Searching YouTube for David After Dentist reveals over 1800 results. In classic YouTube fashion, the video has been remixed and parodied. You'll also find that since the video went viral there is now a blog collating all the remixes, parodies, other humourous and viral videos, an Amazon store, various other ways of monetizing the video of a 7 year old boy who went to the dentist, was medicated, and took a while to fully recover his senses.

I wonder how young David is going to feel about all this in five years; when he's in high school. As he struggles to establish his own identity and "fit in," how will he feel if (when?) this video resurfaces and spreads throughout the school?

I wonder if David's parents have fully thought through the future ramifications for David; from the point of view of his future self.

It's cliché; the internet changes everything. That includes our perception of time. I think this is a really important thing to get our heads around: digital footprints can last a lifetime.

It used the be the foolish things kids did faded with people's memories. The internet has a better memory. I think kids today need to learn not only to "think before you post", but to think, from the perspective of ALL your future selves, before you post.

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  1. Darren,
    Thanks for helping to put some perspective on this topic. Don't know if you read Seth Godin's blog, but he had a similar post last week.

    Yesterday, I found myself in this "to post or not to post" dilemma with my four year old daughter. She had fallen, not so gracefully, at preschool, cutting open her chin and needing stitches. Being the technology focused dad that I am, I took play-by-play pictures at the hospital and later created a BubbleShare slide show to share with family and friends. I unfortunately didn't think to ask her permission before uploading the images and posting the slide show (don't know why I didn't ask, I usually do).

    Later in the day, she saw me forwarding the slide show URL to grandparents and friends, and let me know how much she didn't like it. Not exactly sure WHY she didn't. Maybe she was embarrassed about HOW the accidental happened? Don't know, but she didn't want daddy to post it.

    Later I eventually talked her into it, but I think I missed the point. Our kids should feel like they have choices when it comes to how and when they are "displayed."

    She loves the VoiceThread she made about volcanoes, but not so much the "How I got five stitches" slide show.

    Thanks posting on this topic!

  2. I'm sure this has been said before, but it seems to me that we are really heading towards living in a global village. If you live in a village now (as friends of mine do) then everyone else in the village knows pretty much everything about you. People actually quite like living in villages despite, or maybe because of this. Soon we are all going to be in the same situation no matter where we live, if we choose to live sizeable portions of our lives online.

  3. @Rob That was a good post by Seth; I archived here in an earlier post.

    I watched Rachel's volcano VT. She must be so proud of what she did and how she shared it. I suspect that may be the different between the VT and the slideshow.

    @Mr. Jones The thing about living in a village is, like you say, everyone knows the happenings in everyone's lives and everyone knows that. Online, you don't necessarily know the people who are taking in the content being shared about you and I think that makes a world of difference.

  4. Anonymous13/3/09 20:54

    I'm not sure about this one. It reminds me a bit of child stars, many of whom experienced trauma growing up and struggling with identity because of their exposure. Others did fine.

    I also think we're moving to a new view of privacy which is currently creating much of the struggle and prompts a post like this.

    My view is with more and more of these types of viral videos, they'll become less, well viral. We might view them differently rather than forwarded them on, we might see them as background noise. I don't know for sure, just speculating.

    The one thing I do think is important is the transition from parent owning our child's identity to them taking it over. How do we do that? I think about parents who have set up blogs for their babies and begun that process. Is that bad? Might it be helpful?

    Maybe this comes down to the parent-child relationship? Maybe it's about making good decisions for our children, that may not be exactly the same as everyone else? I'm not sure this Dad has done a disservice to his child. I'm not saying everyone would choose this but depending on the type of father he is, it may end up being a positive thing. Maybe I'm naive.

  5. I think this post concerns all of us. Everybody who posts, who publishes even a photo of himself in the Web somewhere has been already exposed. One can take the photo and make the others laugh at you. And this is for life. The dilemma now is "to post or not to post" as Rob Jacklin wrote. Nobody can foresee the future of your post. So, what to do? Not post at all? To switch your computer off for good? I'm not sure about the answer, even if I know what it is.

  6. I myself feel sorry for this little boy - and the father as well.s It was something as innocent as a home video and was blown way over the top.s I did a blog post about it as well - http://missshill.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/hesitation/

  7. Thanks for sharing that perspective. Digital footprints become potentially much more permanent and what is cute "in the moment" can change with the passing of time and even with the audience, intended or unintended. The bottom line is that we all need to consider a new line of thinking before sharing information in a digital world. There are indeed new issues to consider. The phrase, "think before you post" is still a good rule of thumb.

  8. The above two comments were not made by me. The first was made by Miss Hill and I don't know who made the second.

    Last night I installed a new comment service/feature as a way to cut down on spam. It didn't work out. Back to the old template.

    @shareski "with more and more of these types of viral videos, they'll become less, well viral."

    I'm not convinced. Technologies change fast but this sort of thing has the flavour of "gossip" and I on;t think that's going to go the way of the Dodo so fast.

    I've seen the baby blogs and I think that's a nice way to share a child's growth with family who can't be with them every day. But those blogs could be made private with access only given to family members. It's not something I would do for any of my own kids, either open or private, but that's me.

    I think kids have to grow into establishing their digital identities. I'm not comfortable creating that identity for them. I'll try to model for them as best I can but I think it's up to them to assert that identity when the time comes. I wouldn't want someone to have established an online identity for me before I decided to do so myself. I figure I owe my kids at least the same respect.

    I think it's clear that this started off quite innocently; Dad wanting to share David's dental surgery experience with his wife. I don't know anything about David's parents other than what's posted on youtube and the blog they've created to capitalize on the video going viral. I do know, had I been the Dad in this case and the video I posted for my wife went viral, I wouldn't have tried to monetize it. Just doen't feel right, to me.

    @Stergios You've clearly appreciated the potential scope of publishing content on the web. I don't think I would go so far as to say "not post at all." I'd rather take a different approach and post thoughtfully; aware that everything I publish online stays online, forever. It should be stuff I'm proud of or it would be best no to post it

    Thanks for cross posting this in Greek. ;-)

    @Miss Hill You asked in your blog post how the Dad felt watching all the remixes and parodies of his son's video. Well, from the blog they made to monetize the video going viral, it seems pretty clear they're encouraging the remixes and parodies. What I'm curious about is how young David will feel about all this five years from now when he's in high school. I'm not sure he understands what's happening. I wonder to what degree his parents have considered this from the point of view of David's future self?

    @my namesake That's how I see it too. ;-)

  9. I didn't think before I read this about how posts will affects students later on in life. I look at students who post videos of themselves doing things that don't make them look good, never considering the fact that those videos can come up later in life and then maybe they won't think it is so funny. Many times I think students and people in general do not think about the long term affects of what they post and many times later in life they regret that post that they made.