Sunday, November 26, 2006

Separate Blogs for Separate Lives?

I'm wondering if I should start dividing my time, thoughts, efforts, stories between blog sites.

I got started on Facebook. What happened was this: Megan F bounced into my office and announced that she'd been instrumental at creating a Facebook group devoted to me.

"What's Facebook?" I had to get involved in whatever group was all about me, didn't I?

Twenty minutes later, I had my own Facebook profile, complete with a picture of mac & cheese. Why the favorite boxed meal of generations of kids? Because of a throw-away comment I'd made that generated the Facebook group: "I should be called Easy Mac," I said, referring to the fact that I don't give as many traditional letter grades as some of my peers, preferring written comments as attaboys and attagirls, and to leave punishment to their absence.

Over the months, I created my own groups, began to write Notes, typed things all over peoples' walls, read and responded to their notes, sent them messages, and earned this comment recently: "How many hours a day do you *spend* on Facebook?" This from a freshman in my Intro to Lit course.

I have to admit that I felt shame reading that. My defensive mode kicked in when I wrote back: "Not as much as you think."

But yes, Andrea, I will confess that I've become a Facebookaholic. I check it at least once a day, even on Tuesdays, when I begin teaching at 10 and don't end until 3, when I often have a meeting to attend until 4:30. I check between classes, after classes, during office hours, at home before breakfast, after dinner, before bed. Whenever something happens to me or someone close to me, I envision it as a Facebook opp.

And Facebook is just a gateway blog, you know. Facebook threw me to LiveJournal. LiveJournal hooked me to Deb, whose blog is on blogspot, and when she invited me to read what she'd written here, I created my own account.

What do I love about blogging? I love the illusion of instant connection. I love the fact that it's always on. I like writing something in the morning and then finding a note about it in the afternoon, posted by someone I didn't know (but hoped?) was reading it.

I like "journaling" with a real audience in mind. I like how blogging makes me marshal my thoughts. Blogging performs what writing workshops did for me (and sometimes, many times, not as well) back in undergraduate and then two graduate schools: it gives me the feeling of a deadline, the sense of a willing, compelled audience, and a writing community with promise. I never know who I'll meet through a friend, whose writing I'll stumble across, whose ideas will connect with, even inspire, my own thinking and writing.

But it's getting a little too crazy to have three spots to post the same ideas. That doesn't seem like a good idea. It should be something like 3 courses, 3 different foci. Perhaps I'll use this blog, which few know about yet, to write about writing. To post my drafts and receive some feedback from select readers. (Are you a select reader? Let me know.) Here, perhaps, I'll live again as a writing student, thinking about craft, trying to put my ideas about writing into transmissible form.

And I'll use LiveJournal, as I have been, to record the minutia, the stories of every day, as I have been for weeks now. There, I'll let it all hang out.

And what about Facebook? Sometimes I worry that what I say on LiveJournal is too much for the students who frequent Facebook to handle. Do current students (I'm not talking about ex-students here, who are no longer virtual adults but actual adults living actual lives beyond the College) need to know about my struggles with anti-depressants (and the disease that may require them), or constipation, or (shudder) perimenopause and all of its symptoms and implications? No. No matter what they say, students need the lines, the boundaries, between mentor and mentee to remain intact. I can't be a real friend, after all, no matter how hip and involved I try to pretend to be. Finally, I'm a virtual friend; there's an important time for me to step back, smile, and wave their boat, train, or plane away.

And I will reserve Facebook for teaching. Passing on the good word. Reflecting on literary research and pedagogy. Yes, the stick-to-the-ribs stuff.

At least for this afternoon.

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