Thursday, July 29, 2010

Twitter is creepy

I'm on my second go-round with Twitter1. It's a marvelous place to share resources, and an even more marvelous place to waste time while pretending to share resources.

It's (again) failing my death bed conversion question--were your hours being a Twit worth the time?

An interesting "chat" developed last night. (Not sure anything limited to 140 character strings counts as a chat...)

A couple of online bright online folks who also teach science both challenged my belief that we need to draw strict boundaries between teachers and students online. I respect them; their opinions matter.

Here's the gist2:

Follow your students. Follow your parents. Twitter is useful. "But don't follow leaders and watch your parking meters."
I would never follow students here (creepy) and my parents are dead (creepier)

not creepy to "follow" students. more teachers need to follow their students intellectually here and there and everywhere.
It's creepy. I see them in town. I live here. They drop by when I'm on the stoop. But online is creepy.

/We need borders, strong borders, outside the classroom.

we are the same person "online" as "offline." not sure of the distinction you need to make.
Yep, we are, BUT I fart in the bathroom, use the vernacular at the bar, scream at the stadium, and pray in church.

/ When I'm on my stoop, the whole neighborhood sees me--online, mostly strangers.

/ I realize that in the tweetworld I sound like an anomaly--but that's the way most of human society works.

/ The online world is a phenomenally difficult place to draw social distinctions, a plus at times, but a huge negative if naive.
  • You're an adult, your student a child.
  • You're paid to be in school, the student is coerced.
  • You hold the child's esteem in your classroom demeanor, and her future in your grade book.
  • You are presumably wiser, the student more naive.

We wield phenomenal power over students. We forget this at our (and our students') peril.

Twitter is a public space, I get that. So is the Bloomfield Green. I occasionally bump into students there.

Teachers have a responsibility to model reasonable behavior in a public space, I get that, too. You won't see me cavorting through the Green wearing a clown suit. OK, not more than once....

Teachers are models. Part of being an adult is recognizing social boundaries and knowing what behavior is appropriate when.

Children need to learn this. Apparently, some of us, do, too.

1Twitter is an archived chat service that let's you yammer at others in 140 or less character bursts. You can choose which groups to join on the fly, and you can link to online resources. It can be a wonderful resource, just like alcohol can be a wonderful relaxant.

2I edited out a lot of extraneous nonsense, and the "/" represents breaks in the messages. The italicized print represents one of the two teachers, the plain text is me.

The Creeping Terror may be on my top 10 favorite movie theme songs list--image lifted from Apocalypse Later.

And the answer to the first question? No, not for me....I'm done with Twitter.


Jenny said...

You'll be sorely missed there.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Thanks for the kind words, but I think I was more sorely missed here.

As in here here, if that makes sense.

Jenny said...

It makes perfect sense.

Kelly said...

You're the only one who made me laugh at my phone. Miss you, but I understand. Thinking of taking a break myself. Getting too angry w/no hope of changing anything. Not a good place for me.

See you in the funny papers! (You will keep writing, yes? Please?)

nashworld said...

You're not gonna give it up, goof...

Just quit trying to hop in the water with the goal of swimming across the Atlantic. Just hop in from time to time and take (and give) what you will. In other words: there's still value in wading just off shore. Even if it doesn't make the papers, it cools you off a bit.

You know that's true.

*PS- nice profile upgrade. more to the point... me likey.

nashworld said...

...that said: this blog IS a bold dash... somewhere big. In my mind at least (and many others reading this would agree).

Blogs are for deep thoughts (for some of us). Twitter is just... well, it's what it is.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Thanks. You're steeling me for that nashworld character below....

Dear Kelly,

Um, I'm not about to claim credit for someone laughing at their phone. Of course I'll write--always have, and will until the brain falls apart. Sometimes I write words on the edge of the bay, just to watch the tide wash them away.

Dear nashworld,

I always assume I can swim across the ocean. Makes Leslie crazy, but also (I hope) a reason she loves me so.

Of course I know it's true--I also know regular flossing would have prevented the bone grafts I'm paying through the nose for. So it goes.

140 characters is simply not enough. I gone done insulted someone I had no intention of insulting, and wasted too much time otherwise anyway.

(Your li'l demo scared the crap out of me--the format makes me silly, its permanence makes it dangerous for knuckleheads like me.)

Glad you like the new profile--now if i can only make it explode into little tiny squares....

nashworld said...

Consciously or not, 140 drives people here. If nothing more, it is worth that.

Send me the raw image and I'll deface it as I best know how...


doyle said...

Dear nashworld,

My problem is that I loved to hit 140 on the head. Great fun!

Photo on the way. Hack away.

Alex said...

Bummer, man - I looked forward to what you had to say. I'm finding myself slightly disenchanted, as well. Seems like there are too many "cool kids" out there, and I have no patience for that sort of nonsense.

Either way, I'm definitely subscribed so I can keep up with what you've got to say. Keep up the good work.

John Spencer said...

I like Twitter.

Yes, it's superficial at times. So is church. And the staff lounge. And the bar. And my neighborhood.

Yes, there are silly arguments and people who wield power for their ability to manipulate language. It happens in all communities.

At times I feel like a sellout on my Luddite beliefs. Other times I feel like I can have intelligent conversations. Sometimes it's just a public way of talking to myself. Other times it has helped me refine my language.

Still, I go back to it because there is value I get in the interactions. It's the cocktail party or the awkward meet and greet that eventually moves toward something deeper (a blog, a skype conversation, a chance to meet in person).

Yes, I believe in local. But I also find some value in going beyond the parochial.

Not sure if it's paradoxical or contradictory. Time will tell.

doyle said...

Dear Alex,

You keep cooking, I'll keep reading--thanks for the warm words.

Dear John,

Twitter has value. Twitter has costs.

For me, once I weighed them together, the costs far exceed the values.

Twitter is an odd type of community, as are online "communities" in general.

Most folks do not get how open the forum is, or do not care.

I felt cozy in Twitter, as though among friends sitting in a living room or a backyard. That's a dangerous way to feel, unless you're really sitting in a living room or a backyard.

For me, it wasn't a paradox. I loved being on Twitter. I simply ignored the costs.

John Spencer said...

Twitter has never felt cozy to me. E-mail does. Snail mail even more. Blogs used to feel that way (and that's where it gets dangerous for me - I forget that there are actually a lot of subscribers and that people also read my comments on other people's blogs)

Now Twitter, however, has always felt like a really huge party that I was never supposed to be invited to. I'm glad I show up to the party, but I often opt out.

doyle said...

Dear John,

Pretty much anything online not expressly secured is up for grabs. This is difficult to remember, as we both know.

I forget that about the blog, too, since it's mostly personal ramblings.