Back in 2009 I was following a band Georgia Wonder on Twitter. I was also teaching a unit on digital literacy for my sophomores. I had a crazy idea to try to connect with people I followed on Twitter to enhance some of the topics we were covering in class. One of those people was Julian Moore of the band Georgia Wonder. He agreed to talk to my sophomores via iChat to talk about the music business.
Here is the online magazine my students produced from that lesson: Chalk: Georgia Wonder issue.
Here is the blog post Julian wrote: Nebraska USA.
But this post is not about that lesson; it is about relationships. Relationships in our digital age.
Julian and I hit it off right away. In fact we both have the same birthday. For quite some time after the iChat lesson we kept in contact on a regular bases. Georgia Wonder was working on a new album, and in fact the class and I got to hear the first single from the album as Julian was working on it. Today it is 2013 and I have lost contact with Julian. There have only been two posts on Twitter from the band since last year. Their blog has not been updated in a long time. Julian is working on a novel, but that blog has not been updated either. So what happen to a friendship in the making? Life.
Let me take a minute to bring in a few ideas that have been on my mind lately. In the TECHS class we have been discussing digital citizenship, and part of that discussion has been the change in our definitions of friendship, communication, and relationships. Yesterday we watched the following TED talk “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle.
I have been reading the book You are not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier, which discuss many of the same ideas. This blog isn’t about those either.
Now this is a hard truth. I know that if I stopped using Twitter or Facebook, nobody would really care. Somebody might think off hand that I hadn’t posted anything in awhile, but life would go on. I will be starting a new job soon and in a few months after I leave ESU 10 somebody might think about me, but life goes on. But here is the point, the aspect we as a culture and as individuals are discovering and working through; life goes on whether we are online or not. (And I am thinking we need to be offline a little more… but that is for another post) But when we embrace the power to enhance our relationships through technology we create an incredible personal experience that enriches what we do and who we can become. At the moment much of technology discussion feels like technology is a separate aspect to our lives. It is not; it is a tool that can enrich our lives.
So what does this have to do with Georgia Wonder? Good question. I may never connect with Julian again, but the possibility is there because of technology. But just like any friendship, job, or change, life goes on. But my life, and my students’ lives, was enriched by our connection. If we keep the focus on how technology can make our lives better; I think we will do just fine.
By the way, Georgia Wonder, if you get the chance to read this… I’m still listening to your music.