More on the Public/Private Mashup of Life

This is a response to the following thread: Faculty with personal blogs, web pages, MySpace pages, etc

Arvind and Jason and everyone else… thanks for the wonderful exchange.

My internal conflict right now is what personal and what is private. I was reading A Whole New Mind on the way to work this morning, I finished the Empathy Chapter and went on the Fun chapter… I was thinking about how the use of empathy is huge in both my personal and professional life, how being a teacher and administrator and studying psychology can be applied to my relationship with my kids and wife, as well as my students. As I grow as a professional, I grow personally and where is the line? The fun I have with my kids allows me relax and be a better professional. The interactions I have with my students allow me to be a better parent.

So when I blog, I blog about life, and I can’t really draw those lines. This is bad when it comes to vacations, because I find it very hard to break away from work type of stuff, but the two sides of my life cross over so much, how do I separate them?

I’m asking questions that anyone 25 or under are living in a native way. The personal/private line is being crossed all the time.

It’s a very interesting time to be alive.

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4 thoughts on “More on the Public/Private Mashup of Life

  1. I’ve never really understood this digital native/under-25 thing when it comes to the way we lead our lives. It’s not just your post and this is probably just hitting a nerve in me – I apologise 😉
    But I’m 28 and lead my life online as well as offline with no lines really to blur. But I also know 16 year olds who don’t use any online tools – even chat. I also know lots of educated, connected, networked 23 year olds at the beginning of some potentially great careers in media who don’t know what MySpace or Bebo are, and who don’t get Skype when ’email will do’.

    Relating capacity and potential to age creates great excuses for some parts of the population not to bother finding new things out.

  2. What I was saying, is that there is a greater chance that someone who is under 25 (I’m 32 and chose that number randomly) will have an online presence than someone older. But, I know lots of folks older that that who do have large online profiles, so it’s not necessarily an age issue but a question of online presence. I agree that we don’t need to give people excuses not to learn and develop new skills and knowledge.

    More importantly, my reflection is meant to highlight new ways we are communicating, and my feelings of a great overlap between personal and private. The more online presence you have, the more likely it is that someone will find information about you that is personal and professional and mix the two. Creating a big picture of who you are. Just like looking at your blog, Ewan, I browsed your pictures, and found out what you looked like and what it’s like to live where you do. This is ok for you and me, but I’m not sure that our students and colleagues are thinking about this reality as they create online content. Not good or bad, but important to be aware.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Ewan.

  3. I think Alex really brings up an essential point that many adults and students are missing – the permanance of what we put online. I have multiple public, non-anonymous blogs, and some “private” blogs, although any post can be copy-pasted or just printed. I have some social-networking profiles, flickr account, del.icio.us account and others. Someone reading all my stuff would know a ton about me, both professional and personal.

    Has everything I have ever written on email or the web been prescreened by me thinking about what the potential for my words could be? Certainly not. So, when they come back to bite me, I will know why. But how can we use the web productively, because it so clearly is happening, while also protecting the sanctity of our private lives or the great opportunity to mess up and learn?

    As a teacher, I can’t not use the web. It is too important, and too powerful. But, I along with my students have to be ready to face the consequences of our online mistakes. Of course we should try to minimize them, but let’s be real, they are there. Sort of like when I take my kids to the soccer field for a match. I know that real dangers of physical danger are there, but I wouldn’t give up soccer. Ever.

  4. I have to politely slightly disagree with Ewan and empathize with your original thoughts, Alex. It is a big deal to blur the lines for those over a certain age (it could be 25, 30, whatever) – I think that anyone who does it unconsciously is a “native” regardless of age but in general terms, age can be a big factor. Even though I embrace the mixing of online and offline life, I am making a very conscious decision to do so and most of my colleagues don’t get it. The kids I teach (11-13 year olds) do it without thinking and without realising the links. For example, a few kids I teach might not “go on the internet” specifically and might say, “I’m not interested in websites etc.” but those same kids will power up their XBox360 and play an online tournament without consciously realising that they are tapping into the same connected resource that us edubloggers are endeavouring to embed in our lives. I agree that we don’t want to provide excuses. a speaker I heard this week put things in the context of technology affecting other fields of work e.g Health, imagine a doctor or surgeon saying that this new technology thing is not for me, I’ll stick to my traditional methods. It woudn’t happen. Yet in education, we allow teachers to opt out because “technology or computers are not my thing.” We have to do better – so thanks to educators like you, Ewan and Arvind for deciding to lead by example. We want our kids to see risktaking as part of learning – how will they see that as important if we don’t provide positive models. Great post – I’m reading A Whole New Mind at the moment as well.

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