I really understand that I should have a positive web presence. I know that people want to google my name and find out exactly who I am and what I stand for. But the truth is, I’m a little nervous about that, since we live in a country that feels like it’s getting closer and closer to a civil war. I don’t want to be labeled as a certain kind of a person, or a radical, liberal teacher, or a hippy. I want people to know me, not put me in a box.
So now I’m considering creating myself—putting up a store front. Do I really want to portray a person who is totally flat and one-sided, so that I can get a certain job or get in with a certain group of people? Can you imagine what I’d have to do if I wanted to run for public office? I was discussing this with a friend and he ended his conversation with me with this quote, “But it’s the life we are in.”
Not long ago in Anchorage there came a new superintendent. He was very rigid and came with the attitude that he was going to clean up Dodge. He must have had a cowboy hat. Anyway, he instituted the questionnaire for all teacher applicants. I don’t want to work full time, mind you, I just want to help out where I’m needed. I saw, in that questionnaire, great risks of putting each teacher into a box that could be quantified. I haven’t been invited to apply for any positions since I filled it out and I can’t go back and edit it.
My husband says it’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to work with someone who I don’t want to work for, but on the other hand…….there’s a lack of diversity for kids and parents to choose from as teachers within that school.
So basically that questionnaire has become a metaphor for my web presence in the world. People get to judge me before they meet me. How can I make a balanced picture of who I am and still be honest and open? I started looking at storefronts for inspiration.
This store front doesn’t tell you anything about what’s inside. It’s safe, except no one will ever check it out.
Now this is a store I’d visit. There are all sorts of treasures in there. Would everyone go in there? Probably not. But at least you know what’s inside before you go in.
Lastly, this store front is for fancy rich folks. It begs for a certain type of customer to come in. It is exclusive.
So, what if you put up a storefront like this? What would happen? Who would give it a shot? Only a certain type of person, right? Or maybe just curious type of people. I like curious types. So what does this kind of a web presence look like on a web page?
Already “big brother” can find out where I’ve been on the web and which sites I’ve looked at. What if I had been to the ‘communists for peace’ web site? What would that say about me? What if I had wanted to research anarchy, so I could teach about the Haymarket Square bombing at the last turn of the century? Who is out there judging me by where I go? Very scarey!
Luckily I don’t have a bad history on the interwebs like my students might. A girl who I had in class a few years ago comes to mind. She went in the girl’s bathroom across from my classroom and had her friend take a topless picture of her so she could post it to her boyfriend who was sitting in my classroom! 8th graders are stupid and have no awareness of the future. There are some great vids out there for teachers to show to their students, but is that enough? This girl could always have that on her internet history now. Now that I think about it, there are stupid adults too (Anthony Wiener). Maybe we can get over our own stupidity? Let’s see if Wiener gets reelected.
So, yes, I can manage my web presence with a little bubble over my head playing the movie of 1984, but who would have thought that Big Brother would turn out to be virtual? Who would have thought that we’d live in a society like communist Russia where we can spy and tell on our neighbors? It’s a strange world we live in. I see absolutely no possibility of having a private and a public identity, unless you keep a hand-written journal under your bed and write in in every night like my grandmother did.
And then I think about my grad students. Two of them refused to make a web page or a blog or anything with their real name on anything. They were in an on-line course! One turned all of her stuff in under a fake name via email and posted under a fake name on the class blog. She was UBER aware of the problem and decided to solve it that way. The other student of mine was a lot younger and I was surprised he wouldn’t post anything publically, but his was for a different reason. He didn’t want anyone to know he was taking a permaculture course. That would brand him as a hippy. He told me if his office found out, he’d get harassed and perhaps demoted. So I made exceptions for him as well. He was totally aware of his web presence and did not want to “rock the boat.” That really amazed me—he’s intentionally keeping himself flat.
Do I really want to do that? I was reading on the interwebs in a teacher blog about that very thing. Here’s what Daniel Dage had to say to me:
“I voluntarily darkened my blog thinking that might help my cause, but it was too late. Silence never garners much respect, especially after being so vocal. So I made a decision about what sort of world I wanted to live in; one where creativity and original thought is welcomed, or one where such endeavors are regarded with suspicion.”
Intellectually I so agree with that, but I’m also the teacher who was blasted on talk radio in Fairbanks for corrupting the kids out at North Pole. So, I’m really leary. How much ammunition should I supply those who want to throw virtual tomatoes?
So how shall I do it?…..I will take the next logical steps one day at a time, right? I’ll attempt to have a mulit- dimensional, interesting, open presence on the web for people to find. I will attempt to not be so safe that I’m FLAT and one dimensional. (Side Note: I could come up with a FLAT CINDEE book and have it teach web presence to little kids so they know how to market themselves from a young age.) But I will seriously attempt to continue being honest and open about myself and my beliefs, while building openness into my web presence, so that others might know that I value their opinions, flaws, and things that make them uniquely human. 🙂
I’m ready to seize the day! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM6VcGCN6UI
Hargadon, Steve, and Daniel Dage. “Re: Thinking About Your Personal Web Presence (PWP).” Web log comment. Http://teacher20.com/. N.p., 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://teacher20.com/forum/topics/thinking-about-your-personal-web-presence-pwp?page=1&commentId=873527%3AComment%3A75835&x=1#873527Comment75835>.
Newsies Seize the Day . Perf. Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall. Disney, 1992. Film. YouTube. YouTube, 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM6VcGCN6UI>.
White, Charlie. “Mashable.” Protecting Your Online Reputation: 4 Things You Need to Know. http://www.kbsd.com/, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013.