I am finding blogging a challenging activity. Some of this is the nature of who I am. It is essential, and part of who I am, to take time, reflect, and be accurate. I read blogs where it is basically grammar, spelling, formatting, etc. be damned. As a result, ideas become incoherent and sound semi-literate. If my message is important, should I not take the time to make it complete?
I attended a recent presentation by Dr. Sherry Turkle of MIT. Dr. Turkle, a psychologist, works in the computer science department and has studied the impact of technology, including AI and social media, on people.
It was intriguing to hear about the impact of social media on children and adults alike. In our world, technology is pervasive and invasive; therefore purpose is critical, without stripping us of identity. She raised an interesting point about our identity beginning with the debate about cursive writing which has arisen. With the ability to sign our names electronically do we need to be able to sign it the ‘old-fashioned way’? She suggested the debate is complex as it ties into who we are moving it beyond the use of calculators, as a result. Signatures are part of our identify. As a child, I was excited to learn to write my name. Today, students marvel over the scrawl I use. It leads to a story about my hands. It creates a space for them to enter. This sacred space also serves a space we can to be in relation with our self. Here, we can be alone to reflect and gather to learn who we are.
The ubiquity of technology presents a need for a mindfulness that, as I interpret Dr. Turkle, may be slipping away. This is no mean challenge. As a family, we have had computer technology of various forms in our house for over a 1/4 Century. Our first laptop was made by Texas Instruments; really! As a late-blossoming academic, I returned to university as an adult three times. Without the use of ever-increasing technology, I am not sure how successful I would have been. I recognize the value it is has added to my life, my learning, and my recreation, but I have always been wary of the way it can take firm hold of lives and isolate the self from each other. Now, I am open to the idea it can also serve to isolate me from my self.
Think about the most rewarding relationships in your life. They are based on honest commitment only accessed by open communication. This begins with us individually speaking to our self; from our heart. Thirty-five years of marriage and three grown children inform me that this is no simple task. Twenty years of being in classrooms has affirmed this for me. To build a relationship successfully, means to be vulnerable and be prepared to be real first to our self and, then, to others who are important to us. Technology cannot be a place to hide or distort our self.
As I reflected on Dr. Turkle’s message, I realized how easy it is to hide in plain sight. Educators have a wonderful opportunity to model for children; to be exemplars in the use of technology. When I read blog entries filled with errors, missing words, and incomplete messaging, I can only wonder if this is the model we wish to present for children and other adults. This takes me full circle. I need to be true to my self to be true to those I want to read my blogs.