reflections on joining a pen pal network

So, I added myself to the Pen Pal network and I have found the following things to be true:
  1. My friends and family mostly send messages about make believe games where they pretend to run a farm or move through a sorority.  Note to self: the only thing lamer than being on a farm is pretending to be a farmer on a pen pal network.  
  2. No one told me that people would write personal notes on my wall. What disturbs me, though, is a friend who "tagged" a photo of me. He used some kind of adhesive and now it is permanently on my wall.  Not sure I want a photo of me at the Haymarket Square riot will look good in front of the school board. I never thought in advance the reality that the vapor-self, the ever-evolving imago would be amplified.  I feel a bit like a celebrity.  
  3. It's like a staff lounge without the bickering, gossip and complaining about children.  We share ideas, pass notes and actually talk about teaching.  It's like professional development, but without the annoying Edison Projector or the Kodak reps trying to convince me that their cameras will turn my children into geniuses. 
  4. There is a pecking order to #3.  For all the talk of democracy and horizontal collaboration, there are gatekeepers who open up the world for new guys like me.  This isn't bad, either.  They are sort of pencil mentors in a way.  Still, it has a darker side when people jockey for Eduplogger votes.  It's a bit of a pissing match, really.  But on that note . . . please vote for me.  
  5. Social networks dehumanize and humanize simultaneously.  We play games of pretend.  We craft identities.  We use the plural first person instead of saying "I."  But we also connect and play and interact.  I feel more authentic and more artificial every time I pass along a pen pal note.
  6. Stuff is permanent.  I can always say to a person, "that's not what I said," and if I look sincere enough, it works.  But once people resend a note I sent, I'm screwed.  I thought I had sent out a private note to a history teacher, "Garfield was a crappy president anyway.  So, he got shot?  Will anyone remember him in a hundred years?" Now my parents (who were big Garfield fans) think I'm evil.  
  7. People like to repeat one another often.  It's a bit like going to a party and hearing Gertrude say, "Josiah said something totally witty.  He said . . . " and then you run into another person that says, "So, Gertrude told me that Josiah said this really funny thing . . ." I'm sure Josiah feels pretty good, but after awhile I'm ready for something new.  

No comments:

Post a Comment