Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

October 20, 2009

I’m going to start with an excuse.  I came down with a bad cold (the same junk that everyone else seems to also have) just about two weeks ago.  It, shall we say, limited my ability to participate in the online role-play.  I spent a lot of time in bed and watching episodes of “The Good Wife” last week instead of posting to the Ning. 

Alright, excuses are done. 

My online persona was a caricature of a stay-at-home Super Mom who wants her children to experience every opportunity under the sun.  I chose an image of a woman posing with her picture-perfect family in order to complete the caricature.  She lacked depth.  I had fun pretending to be her, although mostly I made fun of her and that feels icky.  I rehearsed a lot of old stereotypes.

For the most part, my posts and responses were silly.  I did  little persuasive writing and instead posted silly comments about how I hoped my children would wait to have sex until they were married and even semi-mocked another character who was deaf.  The forum was difficult for me to navigate.  I had a hard time knowing what was out there on the Ning.  I’ve come to rely on Facebook’s format that screams out at me “Hey, pay attention to these photos your friend just posted!” or a bunch of status updates that leave me thinking “Wow–who is this balloon kid that everyone is writing about?”  I needed a news feed that showed all of the recent activity so that I knew what was out there and who was interacting with whom. 

In the absence of a central online meeting place, I found myself slipping into the lazy role of not bringing anything new to the table, just critiquing the arguments that everyone else introduced.  I appreciated all the information that others posted.  I loved having a forum devoted to a single topic with lots of diverging opinions and research.  In this way, the role-play felt like a great example of collective knowledge and collaboration.

My feelings about the value of digital technology didn’t change much.  I still feel like it is valuable.  It’s also inevitable and I don’t think people can opt out.  But to me digital technology doesn’t make me feel like I do when I sing in French with a class of 5-year-olds, get a hand-written postcard in the mail or hike in Glacier National Park.  I think the really “stoopid” thing is thinking technology will ever replace those experiences in life.  It does, however, bring some pretty amazing things to us–like a bunch of Happy Birthday messages on your Facebook that make you feel loved or video footage of yourself presenting at a summer institute. 

I liked the role-play because it forced me to think more closely about technology and consider the issue from a different viewpoint because, in my real life, I’m no Mother Hubbard.  In the end, it helped me clarify how I feel about the value of digital technology.  And clarity is always a good thing.

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2 Responses to “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”

  1. Maria said

    Kelsey,

    First off, that “thing” that’s going around is both porcine and bound to knock you on your keister, no matter how hard you fight it. Lying in bed (or on your couch, or wherever you needed to) is damned near mandatory in order to maintain homeostasis and not become a sad story on the KARE 11 news.

    That said, I agree with you about the icky feelings, albeit mine were came about in a slightly different manner. On the Ning, despite being in meez disguise, I felt way too known. I did a lot of forum lurking and reading, but mostly just clammed up when it came time to contribute or disagree. I was a psychiatrist in name only.

    In short: Hooray for your recovery and know that you weren’t alone. Also, I had the dreaded crud almost three weeks ago now, and I still cough at night. I’m just saying, don’t mess with the pig or you’ll get the curly tail.

    Maria

  2. Kim said

    Hi Kelsey-
    I felt the same way about the Ning. I felt like I didn’t know what to post or how to say it. It was uncomfortable because I didn’t want someone to read my posts and think, “Why did she write that?” It was something out of the ordinary. The other thing I didn’t like was having to take on the neutral position…just like you didn’t like the persona your Ning character took on. I wonder if other people thought the same thing? It should be interesting to see how others liked/didn’t like the role play!

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