Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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My So-Called Blog

For those of you who missed it, the New York Times Magazine ran a long story on the rise of blogging among young people. You'll need to log in to read it, but it's worth the effort.

I'm so happy to learn that my own blogging -- in addition to representing a search for my lost youth -- puts me squarely in the "emo" camp. And the fact that I use LiveJournal only enhances the "punk" aspect of the endeavor.

The other thing that occurred to me while reading the article -- and I've had many versions of this thought in recent years -- is that it's remarkable that we can talk about what's good for teenagers -- community-building, an outlet for feelings, an opportunity to write a new self into existence -- without ever seeming to make the connection to grown-up existence.

I like to tell people that the most profound realization I had on becoming a parent is that 90% of the world's pain comes from a lack of sleep. If adults only had the opportunity or inclination -- class is the main factor here, surely -- to regard their own sleep with the same care that they regard their childrens, we'd all be a lot happier.

Well, the same applies to phenomena like blogging. If it's good for teens to do it, it's good for adults. I know that Emily Nussbaum's point here applies as well to me and Kim as it does to "J":
For some journal keepers, the connections made online can be life-altering. In late November, I checked in on J., the author of ''Laugh at Me.'' All fall, his LiveJournal had been hopping, documenting milestones (a learner's permit!), philosophical insights, complaints about parental dorkiness and plans for something called Operation Backfire, in which he mocks another kid he hates -- a kid who has filled his own journal on Xanga with right-wing rants. ''I felt happy/victorious,'' wrote J. about taunting his enemy. ''And rightly so.''

In the new context of LiveJournal, J.'s posts had become increasingly interactive, with frequent remarks about parties and weekend plans; they seemed less purely rantlike, and he was posting comments on other people's journals. When I contacted him via instant message, he told me that he was feeling less friendless than he was when the semester started.

''I feel more included and such,'' he typed just after Thanksgiving, describing the effect of having switched to LiveJournal from his more isolated Blurty. ''All community-ish.'' He was planning to attend a concert of World/Inferno Friendship Society, a band with a LiveJournal following. And he'd become closer friends in real life with some fellow LJ'ers, including L., who had given J. an emo makeover. He'd begun wearing tight, dark jeans and had ''forcibly retired'' his old sneakers.

Once J. decided to switch to LiveJournal, LiveJournal began changing him in turn. Perhaps he was adjusting himself to reflect the way he is online: assertive and openly emotional, more than a bit bratty. He'd become more comfortable talking to girls. And if he seemed to have forgotten his invocation not to make fun of anyone, at least he was standing up for himself.
This bears on my recent discussions about pedagogy. One of the things I like best about Eric's approach to teaching -- even when we disagree on particulars -- is that he models the process of discovery by playing the role of engaged student. His students always know that he's in the process of learning too, that his ideas are subject to revision.

I haven't seen any other faculty at the U of A in action, so I can't say whether they do something similar.

Certainly, that quality is what I liked best about Julian Boyd's approach in the classroom.

Maybe we should dispense with the idea of adulthood altogether.
Tags: blogging

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