The year of the MOOC – feeding the two wolves…
Wow, this world moves FAST! “Keeping up with the Joneses” is like chasing the tail of a rainbow in this place. I was only gone for 8 months… what has happened here!!!???
This time last year I was into the digital world up to my neck. I had been living in Montreal with wifi in my room, participating in the infamous and highly inspiring #eci831, breaking into the #ds106 crew by stalking them on DTLT today and writing and reflecting deeply on the digital project.
Then it hit me. The gaze of a lovely man across a crowded street… and I was hit dead in the face with extreme PRESENCE. Add to that a long bout without internet in my house and a month-long trip to the shop for my macbook and BOOM! 8 months gone and the whole digital landscape changed. Ok, so Twitter is still around, but Coursera? Udemy? Maybe these were around, but back to that explosion word… BOOM!
So here I am, still wrestling with the extreme presence that happens in the analogue world when some chance meeting changes the fabric of your existence, and wrestling myself back into the digital world – and not just Facebook (which has somehow taken a larger and larger chunk of my digital time. So much that I’ve requested an intervention from my roommate who will change my password sometime today!).
This is the digital world…. and I need to be here. I have situated my research here. I have built my masters degree in here. I have people in here who are interested in the work I’m doing. But I’m torn by the draw to the analogue. By the presence of people in the flesh. By the draw of smiles on the street as I play my ukulele. Our digital lives always leech time from the analogue… and vice versa. They are at odds these two – like the wolves of the old Cherokee legend:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that either of these – the digital or the analogue – is evil… but there certainly seems to be a war going on in my own experience of my multiple lives. The digital calls me with the voice of a professional. It asks me to plug into my computer and spend time interacting in a virtual space. I begin to care about the person I create in there – the thought of deleting my digital self is as easy as deciding to destroy my ego! The analogue asks me what I’m really creating in there – in all those 0’s and 1’s and asks what it contributes to the relationships I’m creating here and now. A question that came up repeatedly in the series I did called The Social Artist that brought out concerns about doing Liberal Arts education in a digital space.
Of course this is all further complicated by my nomadic lifestyle and the fact that I rely on the digital world to keep my multiple lives on multiple continents prepared for my return. But perhaps this is the big question I’m really asking… where are my roots? And is it possible to root yourself in the digital realm… really right now, that’s the best I’ve got.