Always a lurker, never a commenter

I consume a fair number of blogs on a consistent basis (my regular reads include I Blame the Patriarchy, Sociological Images, Colorlines, and The Conscience of a Liberal).  What I don’t do, however, is comment.  In fact, I’ve never once commented* on a blog post.**

In this sense, I am a passive consumer of internet content, much like some of my students who sit and listen but never wade into the conversation.   If I think about the internet like a classroom, it’s hard to defend my passive engagement with this medium.  In the classroom, I use a variety of techniques to elicit dialogue, based on the philosophy that knowledge production is a collaborative enterprise.  More voices, crafted together by an experienced facilitator, produce a more complex, diverse, and enriching understanding of the world and our place in it.

Is the same true of the internet?  Perhaps – but there are certainly limits to this analogy.  For one, as an internet consumer (rather than a student in a classroom), I am under no obligation to produce content.  I have made no such bargain with society.  To the contrary, I have made a consistent (that is, consistently failing) effort to unplug from the digital world.

Because of this, the tips on creating a personal learning network spoke to me – although probably not in the way intended by the author.  When I read that I should use twitter as a tool to distinguish between the “signal” and the “noise,” all I could think was: maybe the internet is the noise (if not the entire net, then surely twitter, tumblr, and all that jazz).  I realize now that I tend to consume digital media in one of two ways: I either binge – spending three (or four, or five) hours catching up on the blogs and my twitter feed, or I completely tune out.  And I seem to be happier when I tune out.  I read more, enjoy my cats more.  I even knit ugly creatures with all my new found free time.

This is Filbert, my latest knitting creation.  Isn't he a cutie?

This is Filbert, my latest knitted creation. Isn’t he a sassy little cutie?

I guess all of this is just another way of saying that the DoOO faculty initiative comes at a point of indecision for me, or perhaps even ambivalence.  On the one hand, I want to unplug, tune out, and knit little creatures with weird hair and hipster mustaches.  On the other hand, I have a strong desire to create and manage a web presence that blends my academic and political selves.  On the third hand (photos of that knitted creature soon to come), I sometimes think it might be possible to create a digital presence that I can use effectively to build my personal learning network and begin contributing to the conversation, instead of sitting on the sidelines.


* Wait… scratch that.  I recently responded to a comment on my own blog.  But I don’t think that really counts.  Right?  Surely not.

** Needless to say, it was a little intimidating to think about the Domain of One’s Own homework for this week – i.e., commenting on someone else’s blog.

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