Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why #ChefMovie is the perfect film to watch and reflect upon #DCMOOC

After rain ruined what was intended to be a celebration of the end of #DCMOOC, a relaxing weekend camping expedition to Moose Mountain Provincial Park, we ventured out to see a movie we thought would be about good food and following your dreams. When we read the initial reviews of John Favereau's film "Chef", we expected to see a feel good movie that would help alleviate the disappointing letdown of not camping this weekend.  To my surprise, I ended up spending the movie reflecting on a number of items covered in #DCMOOC and being inspired to write this blog post about it so that others who have followed this massive open online course would be encouraged to see it.

If you haven't seen the trailer for Chef, you can watch it here:

In the movie, Chef Carl Casper learns about the pitfalls of social media when he unknowingly sends a public tweet to a food critic that he thought was a private message and starts a Twitter feud. After publicly loosing his cool with the critic and having the numerous spectator videos of the incident go viral, his reputation is ruined as he discovers that he can't get the video offline. Unemployable and depressed, Chef Casper ends up in Miami where he gets a food truck and travels back across the country to Los Angeles with his friend and 11 year old son, Percy.

Now why would a movie about food be relevant to digital citizenship? Well, here are a few reasons why this movie is so much more than a quirky independent film about food and really a lesson about the impact of a good digital presence, regardless of age. It is also a lesson that with a little work, you can overcome a problem with your less than perfect digital footprint.

Lesson #1:  Even young kids have smart phones, social media accounts and can teach their parents how to use them.  This can sometimes be problematic.

In the movie, Chef Carl learns about Twitter from his young son, who he discovers has been given a cell phone by his mother and has numerous social media accounts, even though he is really too young to have any of them based on his age. Carl asks his son to sign him up for Twitter and has him teach him how to tweet. What his son doesn't tell him is that his tweets are actually public and aren't really the private messages that are exchanged when sending text messages. This gets Chef Carl into trouble when he sends his first tweet and is re-tweeted numerous times.

Lesson #2: In the age of smart phones and cameras, everything we do in public can be documented and shared for everyone to see.

The problem with losing your cool in public is that there is likely someone there that is probably going to film it before they would intervene in an incident. They can then upload it and share it with the world in the hopes to either profit or gain notoriety as the person that captures the incident. When Chef Carl loses his cool with the restaurant critic, it is captured and shared online for all to see. He become famous, not for his cooking, but for telling off a famous critic. Not something that any chef would want on his permanent digital record. The worst part, he discovers, it that there is no way to have the video taken down as there are too many different copies on a variety of cell phones and it has gone viral.

Lesson #3: Even with a damaged digital reputation, you can recover and move on to have a successful life.

When Chef Carl starts selling his famous Cuban sandwiches out of his food truck, his son and patrons begin sharing his location online and the popularity of his restaurant on wheels grows. Not only does Chef Carl learn that his young son been using Facebook, Vine, Twitter and Instagram to document their road trip and publicize his food, he discovers that his son has also been quite astute at using these tools to use geotagging and video editing to promote the food truck. His online reputation is repaired and social media is now a positive in his life rather than a negative.

Lesson #4: Young people just seem to know how to use these social media tools, however they don't always know their impact on people's lives. Sometimes they discover it by accident.

Chef Carl's young son not only introduces him to Twitter and gets him signed up, but turns his food wagon into a social media success by the way he uses the online tools to promote his food.  The chef's lack of knowledge and even lack of what to ask his son about how Twitter actually worked got him into trouble. This to me demonstrates what a lot of parents are likely experiencing today. Their children can show them how to sign up and post a social media message, but they aren't knowledgeable enough to go to the next level in the conversation with their parents and the parents aren't knowledgeable enough about the tools to ask the right questions. The only thing that would have made this movie perfect, from a digital citizenship point of view, would have a been a conversation between the chef and his son about the impact of social media, the good, the bad and the ugly and what they had all learned from the experience.

So as #DCMOOC winds up, I encourage all of its participants to go to this movie and reflect on what they learned during the course. If nothing else, you will enjoy the movie and hopefully cement a little bit of what you learned over the past few weeks.

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