This comic shows the awkwardness that social media can bring

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Some scenes, like the one depicting the garden-variety selfishness and the ignorance found on social media sites, are what one might expect of weak social ties, and are not really serious. They merely point out the weird rhetorical circumstances of virtual communication in places like Facebook and Twitter. Such awkwardness is expected. We haven’t been in this forum before, and so there will be awkwardness as we negotiate the new relationship between speaker and audience. 

But other scenarios are not so funny, pointing up more serious social anomie in people who feel cut off from the more socially healthful connections gained in community. This is where a mandatory program of public service could be useful. What if the miserable 5 am poster in the comic were part of an exercise group in his community? And what if the sexual pervert were involved in providing assistance to the ill? If strong ties were forged in public service projects, individual citizens would be more bonded with their communities, all sorts of un-productive, anti-social egotistical behavior would be avoided. Think of the energy and resources we would save. In a 21st century marketplace, smart energy management is fundamental.

For about a hundred years, a program of cooperative education has been a part of college and high school curricula. Basically, in cooperative learning, students are put in “real-life” situations–in businesses or community organizations–where they can apply the principles and techniques they have learned in their classes in an authentic, meaningful context. It results in deeper learning (so long as reflection is worked in with it), “vocational maturity,” and a win-win between school and community.

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