Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 32 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

The Me You Know

| 4 Comments

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 32 seconds

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Scenario 1:

I’m in the middle of a conversation with a colleague/friend at work, and they say “yes, well when you wrote…” (and they refer to a blogpost or article I have written and I never knew that they were reading my writing before!

Scenario 2:

I am meeting with a colleague at work and before we start doing something together on her computer I get a glimpse of her email inbox. It says “Reflecting Allowed” and I realize she’s email-subscribed to my blog. I didn’t know that!

Scenario 3:

“I cried when you wrote about your daughter’s foot getting stuck in the revolving door”

Scenario 4 (recurrent)

Someone looking at me with a lot of… Love (?) and treating me really special when I don’t really know them that well (but really like them) and suddenly I realize it’s because they read a lot of my writing. And it’s an epiphany (this moment intersects with some of the above scenarios) 

Scenario 5 (recurrent)

I call a non-academic friend I haven’t seen in ages and she tells me “I read everything you write even though I don’t always understand what you’re talking about”

Scenario 6:

Someone I interact with online who barely (if ever) comments on my blog or retweets my work lets me know they appreciate my writing 

Scenario 7

The ex-president of my university emails me that she’s regularly reading my Prof Hacker posts

Scenario 8 (roughly paraphrased)

I feel connected to you, that I know you well, even when I am not talking directly with you because I read your blog/watch you on Vconnecting. I feel like I know you more than you know me

Scenario 9

A friend of mine (who blog a lot) discuss how it feels to meet someone f2f when they feel they know you because they read your blog and you’re embarrassed you don’t know them as well as they know you (either because they don’t blog as often or as openly or not at all…or you just didn’t realize they blogged…or you did but you can’t keep up with all your readers given how much you write).

Scenario 10

I do something (in a physical/sync context) that’s a little sensitive or empathetic in person and someone notices and they seem to be noticing it more because I write about this stuff. And I want to scream that what I write is what’s in my mind, the ideal, theoretical that I wish to put into practice, but in real life I am a so-so listener, in real life empathy gets me into trouble and sometimes I lose it altogether. In real life I make so many mistakes with people I love and sometimes they can’t stand me on days I just blogged something beautiful or something 

Scenario 11

People close to me in person seeing me as something different from how I view mysef as a whole person. Because they don’t read me. And that’s a big part of who I am and what I think and how I feel and how I process my life. Do they really know me if they only know my behavior and not my thoughts?

Scenario 12

FRIEND/Colleague(who has known  me well since undergrad, and now works with me) at Digital Pedagogy Lab Cairo tells me “it feels like I am now living inside Maha’s head” and it strikes me as the truest thing, because these people (Bon, Jesse, Sean, Amy) and I live in each other’s heads quite regularly. 

Bonnie Stewart  recently published a piece in Inside Higher Ed based on the research she did with George Velestianos. Full citation of the peer-reviewed piece at the bottom of this article (I won’t refer to it too much – but it’s a good article. And you can guess who Maha, Associate Professor from Egypt in their study is)

So a lot of the scenarios above happened in the past week or two. Some earlier. Many recur.

It makes me think about how my embodied self could never live up to my (albeit still authentic) digital self. For example, yesterday I blogged and Facebooked highlights of my day, but a big part of my day was horrible and I couldn’t talk about it. I often write about oppression without specifying particular incidents. But sometimes I write in detail about very specific things and reflect on them. Because I can. Or because it can be valuable to others (even more important). And which things in our lives we choose to reveal are very personal and nuanced decisions. And while I know my reading has audiences beyond my digital niche group who understand most of my work, I sometimes blog (inhospitably) addressing just them. 

Somehow, the great thing about having different possible avenues to publish our work, esp non-peer-reviewed work, helps us think about audience. Does an article belong on Prof Hacker (where I need to write at least 3/month) or DML (where I promised 10/year) or my own blog, or should I publish to an Arab academic audience (Al-Fanar)? And just sometimes it belongs in an email to colleagues. Or it starts as an email then I realize it will do more good (to the world or myself) as a blogpost.

So just wanted to capture this moment 🙂

Veletsianos, G. & Stewart, B. (2016).Scholars’ open practices: Selective and intentional self-disclosures and the reasons behind themSocial Media + Society, 2(3). doi: 10.1177/2056305116664222

4 Comments

  1. “It makes me think about how my embodied self”

    I couldn’t point towards a embodied self – I can think (in job terms alone) of various selves –

    * The award winning teacher
    * The so-so researcher
    * The politician
    * The aggressive deal-maker

    All of which overlap slightly but are different enough to be noticeable – and each is contained in the 9am-5pm weekday. At 5pm, I slip out of my work clothes, put my work back in a room and shut the door and don’t think about it until the next day.

  2. Yes, I need to blog more and get more of me out there. I have 21 blog posts in draft mode now waiting. I think it is time for me to get that down to about 5 (my email goal is about 20 maximum or I start to freak out).

    I identify with most of these above Maha, thanks for writing them down. Each of us gets something different from reading you and we all know “different Mahas”. You are the sum of all of them and I get what you mean about being different in person than we are online. I think that is natural, part of our identity.

    Frankly I am often scared of meeting some of you in person thinking it won’t meet our expectations of each other or something. I won’t let that stand in the way though since I have some of the best conversations with people over a meal so I definitely will never turn down those opportunities to meet in person.

    Yes, I’m totally stressed about meeting so many online friends in person at #OpenEd16. I think there are only two there that I have me before (Tannis and Alan). #yikes.

  3. I enjoyed reading that.
    We are all in bits 🙂

  4. Maha, thanks as ever for the inspiration.

    I shall post this here as it sort of belongs.

    http://tachesdesens.blogspot.fr/2016/10/sum-of-our-parts-not.html

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