The highest point of this week for me was watching the New Jersey Devils, the best hockey team in the Metro bubble, finally pull their roster off of COVID-protocol and beat the Rangers spectacularly on their first night back! (I love one man, Mackenzie Blackwood.) The lowest point comes from all of the inner turmoil and emotion that goes hand-in-hand with the turbulence of trying to rebuild a relationship with someone and feeling like you’re pulling all the weight. All I can offer you as a backdrop for my blog this week is the soothing sound of “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side” by The Smiths because it sure has been a week. I’m going to be completely raw here and admit, I had a rough go of things both in my personal and professional life, and this article picked and peeled at a few of those scabs and my insecurities at large, so please forgive me if this blog post isn’t my usual ponytail-swaying, ending-on-a-high-note optimistic work. It’s more of a slow trot across the tracks before the train comes. Oh, and it’s far, far, shorter!
Being a kid of the digital age came with plenty of perks and drawbacks. I’ve been lucky to always have a delicate balance of the old and the new in my life, courtesy of being a Gen Z’r with Boomer parents, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have been a bit older when introduced to technology, instead of growing up alongside it. (I kind of think of computers as my younger sibling, since I saw them go from boxy monitors and dial-up modems to rectangles in everyone’s pockets.) I spent more than my fair share of hours outdoors, running around and riding my bicycle, skinning knees and elbows, and banging through the backdoor well after sunset. I spent a ton of nights, even during the school year, holed up under my blankets with a flashlight and good book. But, I was also an avid adventurer on the world wide web, and that’s been a big influence on my life.
To start with dissecting the podcast, “The Internet of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” let’s consider the idea of the computer as “being full of other people,” and the ups and downs of that very valid statement. I know I mentioned it in my introductory post, but I’ll reiterate it here; as a kid, I was just the one kid always outside of the crowd. I mainly had “friends” who were told by a teacher to be nice to me, or I was always off by myself, so the internet was the only place where I really felt like I could be an unfiltered and inhibited version of myself. (I promise I followed all of my safety rules though!) Like boyd, I also struggled with trying to unravel myself, and essential factors of who I am, like my sexuality and gender identity, and mental health. In real life, I felt trapped, and isolated, and completely alienated. The internet provided me with other folks and spaces to have those sorts of discoveries and conversations with, and now I (at least try) to do the same unto others in real-life, and lend them a listening ear in that same vein.
But, like boyd also pointed out, the flip side to this positive is that the negative side of things in real-life always carries over and reveals itself on the web, to a broader audience that over time, loses sight of the fact that these issues have always been prevalent, but now that a public space exists to air these sentiments, everyone has to bear witness, not just the folks being targeted. In my own experience, it is absolutely terrifying, and there is almost no closure to be had when someone decides to take their negativity out on you virtually. It exists forever, and if you ruminate on things as I do, you have limitless opportunities to go and revisit and keep opening up the same well of hurt if you aren’t careful.
Pushing past this, I think it’s fair to say that the lines between who we are in real life and online are becoming hazy. There’s a lot that folks here are never going to know about me because I’d be OK sharing them in person, but not on the web without the shield of anonymity.
Moving forward, I found the Digital Detox website to be quite promising, and it pulled me out of the slump that the podcast had pushed me down into. For one, I appreciated the open snark, and the blatant declaration that the time for optimism has passed, being replaced with a need to really examine the damage we are doing to ourselves and others by pushing convenience over critical evaluation. I can already see the cracks in my own foundation that comes with the “looming Zoom” as I’ve elected to call my classes around the house. I can feel a palpable sense of dread when someone references Blackboard, and I am sick and tired of it all. Here’s to hoping that with a post-pandemic university, we also get a greater sense of accountability for the damage we o to ourselves and to others with illusions of fairness, and a lopsided desire for posterity.
In terms of my daily creates for the week, here’s my contribution to the Exquisite Corpse story, and my best six-word stories.
Well, that about does it. I see some snow begging to be molded into a snowman, so here’s to a winter wonderland to spend my day off in! See ya next week!