Friday, July 31, 2009

Enlarging my Digital Footprint

Well, I’ve done it. I finally broke down and entered the blogisphere. (For those of you reading my first entry, I realize that the look of my page is still pretty boring. I’ll be doing some renovations soon. But for the time being, please bear with the boring.) It has often been suggested to me by my husband that I start blogging. A few other people have commented the same. Perhaps they are right. However, it is a step that I take hesitantly and rather reluctantly for myriad reasons. But I will be honest enough to express a couple of the primary ones up front.

First of all, every fiber of my being is opposed to the idea of how our world now defines “knowing” someone. If we can find it in a database, we “know” the person. That is the most de-humanizing definition I have ever heard. It is one thing to know that some day, after I die, I will return to dust. But to know that while still alive I have been reduced to nothing more than a series of fields in databases is, to me at least, rather creepy. Nonetheless, it is the world in which I live, and since it will only continue to evolve more and more in that direction, I guess I might as well be part of it. Therefore, in addition to being able to find out my age, height, weight, ethnic background, favorite brand of toilet paper, etc., there will now be even more out there for search engines to hit upon, advertisers to target, future (and current ) employers to look up about me… and on and on it goes. Just understand that what one sees in a blog is a piece of a picture or a puzzle. I don’t believe that you can “know” a person by searching a database any more than you can summarize a novel with one word, or even one sentence.

The second thing that bothers me about our digital age, and blogging in particular, is that the entire world can now ignore what I say. Now don’t get me wrong. I am a mother and a college math teacher. Being ignored when I speak is part of my every day life. As one of my favorite sayings so aptly puts it, “A math teacher is one who talks in someone else’s sleep”. Being ignored often goes with the job descriptions for both mother and teacher. Of course, sometimes what I say is listened to, taken to heart, considered and acted upon. And, in those cases, hopefully I said or taught something good and helpful and insightful that my children or students take with them. But when you start to blog, it is like you suddenly adopted 7 billion children or enlarged the size of your class to 7 billion people. Now instead of just a limited number of children or students, there is an entire world of people out there who get to ignore what you say. Again, to me it is kind of creepy. Remember that question that has puzzled people forever: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it still make noise”? Well, today the question has become, “If a person sits at the keyboard typing a blog, and no one reads it, did they actually say anything?” I don’t know.

What is most interesting about the dynamics of the two previous paragraphs is that they simultaneously, comfortably co-exist. More and more people can “know” more and more things about me, while at the same time more and more people can choose to ignore what I say and who I am. Fascinating. I shall have to think more about that.

I chose Eclectic Gallimaufry for the name of my blog spot because I think it is an apt description of my life. While there are a few people, beliefs and convictions that I hold very dear and which are constants in my life, I don’t find that I fit into any one particular category. And so I have decided that, in the same manner, I will not be able to blog about any one particular thing. If you like variety, then you may find this blog site interesting. It may at any given time be thoughtful, humorous, insightful, encouraging, dissenting, unusual, ordinary, inspiring, boring, all of the above or none of the above. It may be well processed information, or it may be a bit of rambling. I don’t have a plan. It will just be pieces and parts of the puzzle that is me. I may talk about teaching, parenting, vacationing, bike riding, swimming, snow-shoeing, gardening, a day in the life of a Mainer… I would be happy to know if anything you see here relates to anything in your life. Or if you would like to respond to anything you see here I would be happy to hear it. So feel free to comment. Excuse any grammar or spelling errors that you may find. I do try to read back over things, but I don’t always get everything right.

To anyone who may be reading this, thank you for being part of this new experience in my life. As time goes by, I shall see what I think of it.