Do you know who your 'friends' are?

In the September 2008 edition of Computers in Classrooms, I wrote an article in which I discussed how cartoons and comics could be used to stimulate discussion in a topic. A cartoon doesn't have to be side-splittingly funny to be useful. As long as it causes a smile and is pertinent to matters of concern, you're on safe ground.

The cartoon below is a case in point. You may have to explain who the Grim Reaper is, but apart from that it ticks all the boxes:

  • It's based on a pretty silly premise: I doubt that the Grim Reaper has a page on Facebook or in Twitter!
  • It's not guffaw-inducing, but it's humorous enough to take the edge off what could, if you're not careful, be a 'discussion' in which you find yourself preaching to a bunch of people who are convinced that you just don't 'get it'.
  • Humour is a good way of priming the brain to be more open to new ideas. I have absolutely no scientific basis for saying that, apart from my own experience, both personal and professional.
  • It touches a nerve which is very much raw: who exactly are  the people who ask to be your friends?
  • You can use it as the basis for further discussion, such as: is it OK to 'unfriend' someone in a social network? Is 'unfriending' enough, or should you block them too? Is blocking them enough, or should you click on the 'Report' button?
  • And, of course, you, or your RE or Citizenship colleagues (or all of you) can start to explore the meaning of the word 'friend' itself in a virtual context.