Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Crumble of Commenters


Broke rule number one of morning pages by doing a passel of other things before I put this page in front of me.  I squandered the morning blush of fresh brain power by answering an email asking me for a side dish that would work with Chili con carne and Sushi.  I recommended carrot and ginger salad with sesame oil.  

That done, I wanked around the comments section of an article about collective nouns and coined my own to describe my behavior, at least, if not that of countless others who waste time spouting off: “a crumble of commenters” was what I came up with but I also liked “a crumbling of commenters.”  

I tried to find language that brought together the notion of being atomized by the very tools that are meant to connect us and the resulting and desperate need to be heard.  It’s a topic that interests me, not least because the pace of innovation hasn’t slowed – and likely won’t barring some cataclysmic change in an unimaginable future – and the internet is the communication environment in which we reside.  It is a good thing to step back and look at it and the changes it is bringing to the way we understand the notion of community.

In HH’s world, interactive communications – the idea of being connected to a large, and largely anonymous, group of like-minded people – is something he takes for granted.  He’s eleven now and it is difficult for me to decide how much I should be involved in what he’s doing online.  There are the obvious precautions like paying attention to the sites he visits, cautioning him about trolls and giving out personal information – the standard list of horrors.  But beyond the mechanics of trying to make his experience safe, is the larger question of the ideal balance between modern communications devices and the demands of traditional education. 

And then there is the question of empathy, but I’ll leave that for another day.

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