Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Social Responsiveness Syndrome

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Several things came together in a couple of days to bring about this blogpost. I have been thinking of the power of the digital ways we communicate and their forms and how they are affected by us making them public rather than private.

I was originally thinking about how it takes me v little time to read a blogpost but I am almost always compelled to respond in some way. To comment or share or privately tell the author what i think or something. It takes me a while to get thru things because I feel compelled to respond. Let someone know they have been heard. It’s not something we feel compelled to do when we read a journal article or book (tho I have sometimes contacted those authors too).

Then I was really touched by this poem by Kevin Hodgson in response to a blogpost by Simon Ensor (Kevin blogged about poetry as response). I was touched and it sat with me in my heart n mind for a long time. I especially like this part:

and how do i explain to you,
on the other side of the wires,
how precious this connection is,
how desperate i am 
to clasp you in conversation?
so much so
that i am willing 
to burn out and go dark
just to connect.

But also the poem talks about what we leave out, when we talk about certain things. Although Kevin was responding to a very specific situation, the poem resonated with me strongly on many levels and made me think about virtually connecting and what we do there to connect people

But then this morning I read this blogpost by my friend Sarah Honeychurch. We are meeting f2f for the first time tomorrow inshallah and I was very excited, and I realized from her blogpost that the virtually connecting work (which Rebecca and I had been hoping to excite her about) feels like it would detract from the f2f experience of being together. To be honest, I was always concerned about that possibility, but from what I saw of Rebecca and other onsite buddies so far, it seemed to actually help them connect with people onsite, too, and get close to some (not necessarily celebrities btw).

One of the things that occasionally makes me uncomfortable w vconnecting (and it’s my baby and Rebecca’s) is that when i am really really close to someone, I can’t really have the convo i wanna have with them on camera. I would rather have it privately. It’s the same for going to a conference – I am looking forward to lots of private moments. But there are also some other people onsite that want to meet me (or vice versa or it is mutual) and I felt the need to “give back” to vconnecting as an onsite buddy. Since I have the connections to meet people that others might want to meet too. It’s complicated. I don’t know how to express it.

But I also know that while a lot of great work can be done publicly and with words, some things need to be made in private and come from sustained gestures and behavior.

I read Sarah’s post and I cried. Because how could I be hurting someone so close to my heart? I wanted to call her but it’s too early and it’s my husband’s phone not mine (i am weird that way, don’t wanna use it while he is asleep). I wanted to sing her a song. “Nothing compares to you” or “Nothing’s gonna change my love for you” but those are just platitudes and they prove nothing. What will matter is what happens when we are together.

Now let’s just hope my family (hubby n daughter) give me enough space to spend quality time with my friends. Coz no one understands how much it means to me to be able to spend time with them. There is nothing i am looking forward to more than the first moments when i meet them and the hugs and just the warmth of being in each other’s presence

But I am anxious because what if we don’t like each other as much in person? What if I talk too much or too loud or something I do is culturally offensive? What if my daughter decided to have a day-long tantrum because she knows I am enjoying someone else’s company too much? What if my husband decides he can’t take care of my girl during the conference and drops her in to spend time with me there? What if he doesn’t enjoy sitting with us for dinner? What if what if what if.

(i have none of those anxieties about meeting other people at the conference because even though I know them, they are not as close to me, so I am not expecting sparks)

But I refuse to believe I can’t do this, can’t fix it. But it will be offline. And private. Part of me wishes she had talked to me in private… But part of me appreciates the public calling out, too.

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