Saturday, January 29, 2011

Skipping Days... Literally

During my years at University I used to spend my summer working in a medical supply warehouse. The job wasn’t the greatest, but I needed to make money to go to school and there weren’t many other options. I loved Fridays at the warehouse. People who were regularly introverted and doldrum came alive at the end of the week. I will never forget the day when I approached one of my fellow employees and after I had shared about how happy I was to know it was the end of the week he replied with, “Friday is the saddest day for me.”

I was surprised and slightly taken back. I did the next logical thing and decided to ask him why Friday made him so upset, to which he replied, “Because a whole weekend has to go by before I get to see all your faces again.” We shared a Friday laugh and went back to finishing our work.

To this day, the question, “What’s your favourite day of the week?” is a popular way to start a conversation with all different sorts of people. I usually respond with either Friday or Saturday. I mean, what isn’t there to like about these days? On a Friday, you still have to go to work, but everyone is happy and chipper. Most times a Friday is over and done with before you know it. When work is done you’re free to make whatever plans you like because everyone knows they get to sleep in. The more I think about it I wonder - what isn’t there to like about Saturday? You get to sleep in, you get to make your own schedule for the day and if you don’t want to do anything – you don’t have to. Saturday is for sitting and relaxing – hence the “Sat” in Saturday.

You can imagine my surprise the other day when one of my students told me Monday was his favourite day of the week. “Monday!?” I replied, “Are you crazy?” The more we talked about it – the more it made sense to me. What’s really the difference between Saturday and Tuesday? On Tuesdays, we wake up, go to work, come home, spend time with our family/friends and head to bed so we can do it again tomorrow. On Saturdays, we wake up, (if we aren’t lazy) we do the work at home we weren’t able to do during the week, spend time at home, visit friends/family and head to bed. After hearing his thoughts the only difference I could find between the two days was that we get paid for weekday work.

It was an interesting argument, to say the least. I am not sure if I would trade my Friday or Saturday for a Monday, but I think his thoughts about life never stopping for a weekend was well put.
It reminded me of another conversation I had several weeks earlier. A friend and I were talking about the winter and how many people often wish they could fast-forwarded the months and enjoy the spring/summer months forever. What we found interesting was that these were also the people who would frequently talk about how the days and months seem to fly by and wished they had more time.

Life is about enjoying each day for what it is. May it be a mundane Monday or a fantastic Friday – they all serve a purpose in our life. Whatever that purpose may be – it won’t be found in fast-forward - remember to press play.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hard Lessons: A Writer's Reality

Being a graduate of a media studies program I always thought I knew a lot about the field. I like to read non-fiction books from the media studies section, I follow media/tech blogs, I study up on media education teaching strategies and dabble at writing my own media/new media/media education blog articles.

Somewhere inside me I can hear the old saying, “Those who think they know everything, really know nothing.” I wouldn’t say that I know a lot about the media or new media (especially since it is always changing). But, I would like to think that I would hold my own in a general conversation about the topic. Of course, like any good story, life has an interesting way of bringing things into perspective.

A couple of months back I spent some time volunteering at a local elementary school. The teacher of the class is an old teacher of mine and she will often give me the opportunity to gather some experience in her classroom. On this particular day, I had the chance to talk with the class about “Online Safety” and the dangers of social networks. Without getting too much into detail the moral of my lesson was, while social networks are great for keeping in touch with family and friends they are also equally dangerous due to fake accounts/cyber bullying/etc. (For each good there is an exact opposite bad)

I remember the scared looks on their little faces. Perhaps I should have practiced my speech on another audience to censor my material? At the end of the day, I think the talk was good for them and a lot of the students were able to come up with some really good questions about the topic. If only I could have heeded my own warning.

I alluded to new media article writing earlier in this post (If you haven’t checked it yet - The New Media) and a few weeks ago I wrote an article titled “The Modern Panopticon.” I was really excited about this post and spent a lot of time trying to fit my argument together. Without going into too much detail, I was trying to establish our modern day online/tech savvy society as a mix of Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, with a twist of Bentham’s Panopticon prison model and Facebook’s self-monitoring themes. In my opinion, the article came out really well and I was anxious to post it.

For those of you who have followed this blog for sometime know how much I appreciate all your comments and support. It is your comments that keep me motivated to keep writing. The same goes for my new media blog and within a couple of days I had received a comment from a user. The comment said, “Glib.”

Glib? What’s a glib? Is glib a noun? An acronym? I was lost. I decided to turn to the dictionary and this is what I found, “Lacking purpose or foresight.”

I was a little taken back – to say the least. I have never had anyone comment negatively on a blog article before. My mind began tracking back to the lecture I carried out with the grade school children, “for each good there is an exact opposite bad.” I have since called this my first case of “writer’s reality.” I have come to understand that not everyone is going to like what I write and may also feel comfortable expressing how he or she feel about it.

Since the comment I have heard back from the same user and learned a great deal. I realize that sometimes the negative comments serve just as important a purpose in writing as the positive comments do. This one user wasn’t afraid to tell me that they felt my thoughts lacked purpose and for that I am grateful. He or she reminded me that the public is a living/thinking audience that wants to be stimulated and isn’t afraid to be critical of the writer.

Writing, along with many other facets of life, is an ongoing learning process.