Students often view various internet platforms as neutral spaces for information. We know that the algorithms behind Google and Youtube are anything but, and in some cases have actively promoted extremist content. Much of the problematic content targeted at adolescents—from meme culture to Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson—seeks to instill an attitude of ironic detachment towards important issues such as racism, or presents people who care about social justice things that need to be destroyed! in arguments. When our students begin to explore these spaces, how can we, in the early stages, honor their right to make up their own minds, while helping to keep their minds—and dispositions to conversation—open? We will think through this issue keeping in mind young teenagers who are beginning to make up their minds, rather than older students who are already acting out this destructive online culture in our classrooms.
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