Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week Six Reflection; Social and Emotional Exhaustion

Truth be told, I am glad week six is behind us.  I know that life happens--but I cannot remember a week in my life when it has been more trying to be a human being.

Even as I write this reflection, three police officers are dead in Baton Rouge.  We are gearing up for some of the strangest political party conventions held in my lifetime.  Turkey is about 12 hours post-coup attempt.  There is a heat dome headed for most of the Western US.  There are still people missing in Nice, France.

This feels like humanity is converging upon sure disaster.

Then, I think, does all of this seem connected simply because we are all so connected to it.  I can turn on the news--broadcast 24 hours/7 days a week and get the latest details.  I can take a quick glance at any number of my social media connections and get a quick read on what is happening and how my circles are responding to it.

Has the world always been this chaotic?  Or, have our connections just brought the chaos into full, focused view for all to see?

And, I am trying to think about how we can guide our students through all of this information to productive conversations.  I wonder how we are going to do that when some of our best universities are encouraging us to moderate the tone of our social media usage.  Our students have their voices too--voices which need to be heard and voices which often contain more reason than those of the adults around them.  I am loathe to ask them to moderate their voices when, to the depth of my core, outrage does seem appropriate.

However, it is not enough to feel outrage.  Collectively, we have powerful tools in digital media that allow us to create communities of understanding.  We can learn from experience and move forward in a way that is productive.  I am convinced that humanity has the capacity to create collapsed digital spaces where perspectives and solutions to our shared issues can germinate, pollinate and grow.  Can we use what we are learning here to create narratives which can move us in a different direction.  Can those same ideas be used to move our politicians and leaders in a direction which serves all humanity?

Perhaps I am an idealist--still.  Converging upon sure disaster is not a place which is comfortable for me--and the question becomes, how can we help ourselves and our students become change agents working against this madness?  Can we equip them with digital literacies which give them a powerful voice to become catalysts for change?  I believe we can--and I believe we have an ethical and moral responsibility to help them move in that direction.

Tough week for our planet.

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