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.


Riccardo Lo Monaco said...

it's not just those who 'think' they know everything that actually know nothing... some are more humble about their reality. I think it was Socrates who had first said it... and I'm too lazy to quote what Plato wrote about it word for word... but it was something like, "The only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing at all." This is true for all of us... even your critic. Modern discourse is governed by perspective. I often think that perspective is quite arbitrary too. Do you ever feel like you can make two opposite arguments on the same topic? I do, all the time. What's important is that we keep thinking, and that's all Socrates would have asked of us...

I'll support you until we're old and grey Sean. Keep doing what you do buddy :)

Michele said...

I second Riccardo in everything he say's, although I could never articulate myself so profoundly! :) Wonderful comment!!!