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On social networks and my internet anxiety …

January 31, 2010

I have been very resistant to change most of my life. Since I know this, I always try very hard to be open, force myself to experiment, and embrace innovation desperately, especially in my teaching. On the other hand, I am a very private person and prefer to remain very low profile and social networks demand participation, socialization, sharing, communication, time … but that’s how knowledge is built, connected, created and re-created, right?

In a world where people in their late twenties -like my children- cannot imagine how their parents could work in the past without Internet, mails, even a computer for writing a memo, and our grandchildren are born with an i-phone or a blackberry by their side, sliding pictures intuitively or by imitation with their tiny fingers … we can’t escape change and social networks have become an integral part of our lives, whether we like them or not.

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Nowadays I don’t blog as much as I used to, except when I set up class blogs or wikis for my students. I don’t have time to be looking for new tools to be discussed in my personal blog anymore and I don’ t want to be re-copying what others are finding to fill a space. I have not made an effort to make others follow my sites and prefer to quietly read what the “experts” in the area are into. When I have a specific need to help my students, I simply Google to find what I want, or so I think. I prefer to use fewer tools that I can handle well than the newest gadget that just came up into existence. But I am always suffering from FOAMS, fear of always missing something, and SONGCOP (just made it up), shame of not giving back to communities of practice where I have learned so much …

I am always amazed at how certain social tools gain popularity and are widely used. Phenomena such as Twitter and Facebook are beyond imagination. Who would have guessed? I probably do not blog as much, for example, because Facebook has taken precedence in my personal life to stay connected with family and friends all over the world: a daughter in Canada, a son in Australia, a niece in Germany, another in London, one more in Illinois, and most important of all, a husband in Bogota while I am usually in Caracas … so sharing pictures and keeping updated with the political situation in Venezuela seem to take most of my free time at the moment. I do not twitter much but follow a couple of lists, especially from the university student movement and their political actions, and national news.

All these networks seem to grow unpredictably beyond their original idea into monsters of what seems to be random information but with amazing possibilities to those who can see through it with their special glasses. As Vance says (although in a different context), it is fascinating “how a system so prone to chaos and entropy so often works through the wisdom of the crowds that populate it to keep the pieces loosely joined all heading in the same direction.”

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4 Comments
  1. Michael Shade permalink

    Berta – a great post and a lovely picture! Is he tweeting?

  2. Maria Rosario Di M??naco permalink

    This is a very inspiring post, and a lot of what you say resonates with me. I also suffer from FOAMS and SONGCOP (love this one!) And I’m also amazed by the popularity of Facebook (a household word in my country) Twitter has not so many adepts here but … give it some time.

  3. Nina Liakos permalink

    I can only echo what Mary and Michael have said–a wonderful post, dear Berta. I love the concepts of FOAMS and SONGCOP and I so identify with you on these points (relevant to the upcoming TESOL discussion which you cannot attend, on striking a balance between online and offline life). I also blog mainly with classes–so I have lots of blogs and the odd wiki which have a life of one semester. Only my <a href="http://nliakos.wordpress.com&quot; target="_blank">reading blog</a> has survived for years (four already), although I don’t post as often as I would like. (If I don’t post about a book as soon as I have read it it passes into oblivion, which is why I started the blog in the first place–so I could remember what I had read!).<br><br>Anyway this was a good opportunity to resubscribe to your blog through Blogger, so it will now show up on my iGoogle page when you post! I used to use Bloglines but have stopped checking it–it was too overwhelming.

  4. Berta permalink

    Thanks Mary, Michael and Nina for your comments, and especially for identifying with me in this issue.<br>I guess, Michael, that the baby is just flipping pictures with her little fingers, but have no idea of exactly what she is doing ;-), probably not texting or reading YET đŸ˜‰

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