When I first got started with this, and was reading the "Help" files to learn about how it all works, I was very amused to come across a FAQ page that included the topic, "What to do if your Mom discovers your blog." Of course I read it -- and laughed.
But I actually went and told my Mom about my blog (Hi Mom!) because she likes to write and I thought she might be interested in starting one. Understandably, she wanted to look at some blogs first. Surprisingly, she asked if I had one. This shouldn't be surprising, but the reason I found it surprising is that I've been telling more and more of my friends that "I've been learning about blogs, because I find this whole phenomenon very interesting," and no one has gone on to ask me, "Well, do you have a blog?" Actually, that is what has surprised me.
I think the reason is that most of my friends are not in the so called "net generation," those young enough to be "digital natives." Most of my friends are "digital immigrants." We all are old enough that we have encountered the development of computer and web technology later in life, and learned it all as a "second language" rather than as a "first language." I learned about this during the recent faculty development workshops, because our students are generally "digital natives," and we professors are "digital immigrants." Here is a link to one of the resources we read on this topic, and here is another, to be followed by Part II here. (If these links don't work, that's proof that I'm a mere digital immigrant!) So, I sense that many of my friends are a little intimidated by all of this, and hesitant to get into something new. They've learned a lot already, appreciate the power of computers and the web, are amazed and delighted by some aspects of it, but wary of getting in too deep. And I'll confess to such ambivalence myself, although I've generally been more enthusiastic than not. Still, I appreciate the concerns that people have.
Ok, but I'm drifting off topic. My Mom did ask if I had a blog, because she's my Mom! And moms are like that -- interested in their offspring and unafraid to ask obvious, direct, and perhaps even personal questions! And my Mom has had a kind of spunk about computers that surprised even me. She is a person who hesitated for years even to get a microwave! I could tell that she even balked a bit when Dad proudly got her a food processor, though she did good-naturedly use it ... sometimes ... at first. So, when they got into computers (I encouraged Dad to make the plunge), I was just astounded about how well Mom took to it! (Dad took to it well too, but I expected that!) She loved tracking down old friends and getting back in touch through e-mail. She enjoys surfing the web to find information on topics and activities that interest her. Now she's having digital images made of her photos and enjoys using photo editing software to modify some of the images. Go Mom!
As I've been getting into blogging myself, I've approached it carefully and experimentally. I wasn't sure initially whether to use my real name or not. I have come to learn that it's not a clear either/or question. There are actually layers of pseudonymity. You can hide just under the surface, or you can hide at a very deep level. My decision was to stay near the surface. I decided that I didn't care if people who knew me came across my blog and recognized me at once. I'm not trying to hide from people I know. I'm just cautious about revealing my real name to people I don't know (and I'm not even sure why I'm cautious about this).
But also, this is an experiment in growing into a kind of identity I want to grow more solidly into. The real reason for pseudonymity is that in the initial stages of personal transformation, your new identity can feel fragile. I've appreciated this blog space as an arena in which I have been gradually developing more confidence about this identity. But I should clarify: it's not the identity that is new -- I've been attracted to the identity of "contemplative scholar" for a very long time. But for some reason I've had trouble giving myself permission to fully live into this identity, unapologetically. Our culture discourages contemplation, reflection, solitude. Our culture is into what is quick, active, flashy. The deep, slow movements of soul are often met with impatience and misunderstanding.
But I am seeing that the more I give myself permission to claim contemplative space and time, the more I gain in strength and insight. I am on an important journey.
I have "site meter," and I can see that most of the hits this site gets are very brief -- people glance and then move on to something more flashy and interesting, or perhaps more relevant to their interests and needs. And maybe even my mother and the few friends who do know about my blog will get bored, but I don't mind. I find this quiet corner of a strange kind of "public" space (a space so busy and full that it is easy, after all, to hide in full view), and I'm happy just to be here for anyone who happens to find my musings helpful or reassuring.
5 years ago