In the first week of the semester, we were given the task to present ourselves as well as reflect on what we thought defined publishing. My short introduction to my classmates included that I was a second year communications student, I wanted to work in magazine publishing and that I thought publishing was the sharing of information. That was the the first impression I gave off to my peers but this, in my opinion was not a good representation of who I was. Although through this exercise I realized that this is not the identity I want to be known for. Through this class, it gave the chance to show my peers as well as myself what I truly want to say about my identity, online and otherwise. The outlet of the blog opened my eyes to exploring my scholarly identity outside of my communications degree which was truly eye opening.
I believe that this blog style platform was the best way to uncover more of myself since it offered a sense of sharing and publication while also giving me the reassuring comfort of anonymity. As Suler (2001) suggests in his work, “The Disinhibition Effect”, there is an aspect of dissociative anonymity that comes with posting online which accords more comfort to the publisher to share initiate details about themselves since they cannot be known. Although in some cases this effect can lead to negative effects, in my case, it was the driving force to what got me to start writing in the first place. The anonymity gave me the freedom to curate my own content and being able to choose what kind of things I wanted to write about gave me the creative liberty to discover what I like to write about. I felt like I was sharing a more intimate part or myself with the world, I also felt like nobody was listening but to be honest, it didn’t bother me at all. I liked the thought of having my feelings and thoughts about the world published for everyone to read if they wanted to but the fact that it was somewhat of a public secret was what I enjoyed most about it. It was more of a release for me than a sharing of information. Writing my blog made me feel as I was releasing tension from my brain letting the thoughts flow out onto my keyboard without filters or having an academic rubric dictating them.
Audrey Watters (2015) in her piece “The Web We Need To Give To Students”, she argues that online student paces give them the opportunity to reflect upon their work outside the world of academia which if controlled by the school. I have realized the importance of this liberty in order to create a well rounded learning experience. One cannot fully explore the lengths to which their education can take them if they do not take the chance to explore their intellectual interests outside of an academic institution. The freedom to explore and create was always the last thing on my mind (Campbell, 2009) since in an academic setting one learns to give the instructor what they want or what we think they and so this opportunity of creating my own blog and opportunity for self education gave me the chance to do so explore those elements of my student life.
This blog was incredibly beneficial for my own personal growth and that is essentially the purpose it filled. It was not created with a specific audience in mind since at it’s core, was a forum where I could practice the creation of blog making whilst discovering who I am as an academic outside of the label I had already been given. Despite this realization, I did consider that my audience would be mostly females, ranging from 14-25 years of age who wanted to read something relatable but also inspiring. I wrote quite a bit about food and so if I did try and market my blog and focus on it’s rise in ratings, I would probably choose to continue in a “foodie” direction focusing on a Vancouver based audience which is where the food reviews would be.
I received a couple of comments from my peers and although some of it was constructive which was beneficial for the overall functioning of my blog through technical WordPress changes such as colour scheme or background but what truly stuck with me was their opinions on my online persona I had created. They both shared that they liked the way I wrote and that it gave off an authentic self that was easy to relate to which is exactly what I set out to do. Getting this positive feedback was so incredibly validating since the information I was sharing online made me vulnerable because I was essentially sharing a more intimate part of my identity which usually is not seen in an academic setting. Getting reaffirmation that what I was doing through my work was good and appreciated by someone, even though it was just my peers, meant a lot to me and gave me confidence in the continuation of my blog.
At first, I was upset with the fact that I was simply thrown into this experience without any guidance. In traditional schooling that I’ve experience so far at university, there has always been some loose guide to follow but for this particular class, you had to take your education into your own hands. Even though in the beginning I did not see it this way, I now know how beneficial it is for individuals, like myself to be learning this way. Gardner Campbell (2009) says that the cyber-infrastructure in which we create offers an opportunity for individual and personal teaching moments which is exactly what I experienced through the process of online blogging. I thought myself first of all how to write a blog but also through this experience got a better understanding of who I am as a student. I am not just a communications student in second year and through my blog I got the chance to share this side of myself. Publication is the sharing of information, as I had shared in the first semester, but it encompasses so much more than that. Publishing is the way of the new world where individuals publish in order to connect just as much as share with it. It gives the opportunity for personal and creative growth where the liberty to do so is not always given in a traditional academic setting.
Campbell, G. 2009. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure.” EDUCAUSE Review 44 (5). http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Suler, J. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html
Watters, A. 2015. “The Web We Need to Give to Students.” https://medium.com/bright/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x
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