T.C. Stevenson

Health Class By T.C. Stevenson

BIO: T.C.Stevenson is currently a student studying English at Kean University. His work has appeared in The Jersey Shore Rag, Seascape Magazine, and Daily Love. In 2012, he won first place in Seascape Magazine’s annual short story contest.

The teacher turned to her class and smiled. Behind her, the electronic chalkboard blinked to life. Her students’ desktops followed, depicting a slideshow of each of their faces from birth to their present selves. The children, who ranged in ages from ten to twelve, regarded their transforming faces with disinterest. In the back of the class, two boys tossed a globe of light back and forth between their desks.

“In this quarter’s health class, we are going to discuss your digital health,”Mrs. Huxley stated. A few groans of distress rang out from the class.“I know it’s boring, and most of you know all of this already, but it’s important that we go over these things. Keeping your digital self safe and healthy is just as important as keeping your mind and body healthy! Lets do our best to pay attention, okay?” Mrs. Huxley turned to the e-board that read: Today’s topic: Digital Health!“Tommy, Brandon, I’m talking to you back there,” Mrs. Huxley said with a snap of her fingers; their glowing globe disappeared in mid air. She ran her hand across the glass screen, replacing the introductory slide with a new bullet-pointed one.

“With the turn of the millennium came the advent of wide-spread internet usage, social networks, and the online games you all love so much.” Tommy and Brandon high-fived, and the class erupted into a distracted discussion of upcoming neural-software. Mrs. Huxley turned from the board and cleared her throat with authority, silencing the class.

“While these were wonderful, groundbreaking developments, we didn’t know anything about digital health or privacy. People thought that the internet was a place of anonymity. Does anyone here know what that word means,anonymity?” Mrs. Huxley asked. A bright-eyed blonde girl with pigtails shot her hand into the air, eager to answer the first question of the day. True to her training, the young teacher waited a few seconds to see if any of the other students would raise their hands; she would let them slide this time. “Yes, Susan?”

“Anonymity is when no one can tell that it’s you,” she answered confidently.

“Exactly right.Thank you, Susan.” Mrs. Huxley said with her characteristically warm smile. She walked to the lectern and tapped on the screen,adding a point to Susan’s class participation score. “Now, can someone else tell me a little more about it?”

“It isn’t real,”Brandon blurted out from the back of the room.

“Raise your hand please, Brandon,” Mrs. Huxley scolded. She held her finger down on his seat, bringing up a menu containing options ranging from GPA  and contact information to psychological evaluation. She typed in a comment concerning his tendency to disrupt class; it would be a part of his professional record for his entire life. When he finished repeating himself, Mrs. Huxley added to his class participation score and thanked him for his input.

“That’s right.Thanks to the internet, there is no such thing as anonymity; everyone is held accountable for what they say and what they do. That means you have to be very careful about what you post on social networks and every video that you upload or stream – even if its a private one! Every word that’s ever been written and every picture that’s ever been posted is out there in the web to be found by those willing to look deeply enough for it, and we know from the elections of 2032 until 2062, people will dig.”

The class reluctantly listened to Mrs. Huxley’s lecture for the remainder of the period. Most of them appeared to be taking notes, but Adriana Huxley was not so foolish as to think they were actually paying attention. They always found ways around the firewalls despite constant network security maintenance, but that was just the way of things; youth always understood technology better than their predecessors.

The lectern screen flashed an end-of-class-warning before the bell rang,and Mrs. Huxley left her class with one last lesson.

“And remember,children: every time you hit a key, someone sees!”