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Philosophical Meanderings

Lost….and Found…thanks to blogs and tweets and being connected

I have been struggling since at least January about blogging and being part of the Twitterverse and being online. You see, I was viciously and hatefully attacked online in January by someone whom I had exchanged many, many pleasantries with and whom I considered a twitter friend.  I experienced that thing called cyberbullying we all have heard about. I did nothing wrong, but was accused of it publicly and people who don’t know me may have believed it, despite the fact that people who do know me defended me. I confronted my attacker and stated my case, but the attack continued. Days later there was a half-hearted apology as a DM, but it didn’t matter–the damage had been done,  I was not interested in hearing whatever the person had to say, and I couldn’t put myself out there anymore.  So, I backed off–Twitter, my personal blog and here at the Co-op.  It literally took me MONTHS to finally unfollow the person who had been so mean, because I was fearful of again being seen as something I am not.

If you look at my twitter feed or blogging stats from January till now, you’ll see the demise of my thinking and sharing online. I would sometimes read, but generally not respond, and certainly not try to engage in a conversation. At the same time, in my school, and at some level, within our county, for me, sharing and talking were on the decline as well.  This happened for many personal reasons, among which were a new principal, and some new things we were trying at our school with which I was personally having a hard time.

I’m basically a pretty insecure person, who shows up on the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory as an introvert. Not that that matters to most of you who are looking for conversations–we’re in this gig to help each other grow and learn, and my basic introverted insecurities generally don’t show online as I share posts like Grade Fog or A Challenge To Act or Great Minds Discuss Ideas or Big Paradigm Shifts or any of the ones I’ve written here at the Co-op.  However, it does matter to me when that introversion is seen as exclusiveness or being snooty.

Accusations like that happen, it seems, after many conferences where folks get to see people they haven’t seen in a while–or ever–and the reflections after ISTE11 are no different. People feel left out, ignored, slighted, etc., or incredibly welcomed, honored, supported, etc.  I’m actually the person who may not speak first because I don’t have my glasses on and I can’t clearly SEE you–or I don’t recognize you from your avatar–or I may be thinking you won’t know me and I don’t want to intrude. The fact is that while we, in our human way of thinking, want to fill in patterns and make sense of others’ behaviors, we can’t assume intentions behind actions without asking–we can see behaviors and make up our own interpretations, but we don’t really know why people act like they do unless we ask and they share their thinking.

I was really surprised when I read Jon Becker‘s blog “Reflections of a New-ish Blogger” from a tweet today and saw the many comments from some of what I consider to be the “biggest names” in the blogosphere about being insecure about blogging. I’ve talked with enough of these folks to know they are wonderful human beings, but unsure? insecure? I had thought not. Thanks, Jon, for being transparent in your thinking, so that others joined in that conversation!

I was then struck by the picture Lyn Hilt began her blog with – and I realized I had allowed myself to become lost. I was choosing take with me a piece of someone I didn’t want and didn’t need. I have also been choosing within my school to carry pieces of other people’s insecurities and lack of knowledge.

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user always be cool

If you do nothing else today, please go read the last two paragraphs of Lyn’s blog, You Know Who You Are. Then, take her with you wherever you go.  I am.

Thanks, Lyn, for reminding me of who I am and for now being part of me.

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About Paula White

grandma, teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), DEN STAR, Google Certified Teacher, camper, Gifted Resource Tchr, NETS*T certified, lover of learning

Discussion

18 thoughts on “Lost….and Found…thanks to blogs and tweets and being connected

  1. Thanks, Paula, I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for reading and contributing to my learning! I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate situation this winter. Relationships are so complex, online and off. I hope we get the chance to meet and chat in the future :)

    Posted by Lyn Hilt | July 7, 2011, 1:12 pm
  2. Very moving blog post. I hate that whole January Twitter experience even happened. As we teach students about cyberbullying, many times we say to ignore the comments. Easier said than done. I am a big advocate of being transparent, but that makes us so vulnerable to the negative. I am glad you are making it back online, we need you.

    Posted by Selena Ward | July 7, 2011, 1:20 pm
    • Thanks, Selena. Ignoring the comments, as you say, is certainly not as easy as it is to recommend, especially if you are naturally a shy person. I am a big advocate of being transparent, too–and will continue to do so. I have been working hard to not hold a grudge over this one–but even that has been extremely difficult. When I finally unfollowed the person, I was incredibly surprised about how nervous I was about that–afraid it would begin the thing all over again. But it really is true–the bully only has as much power as you give him or her. This whole experience has changed how I will teach about bullying–and how I will react (hopefully) to others’ insecurities as well. Your kind words are greatly appreciated.

      Posted by Paula White | July 7, 2011, 2:11 pm
  3. Thanks Paula! I am taking a piece of you with me too.

    Posted by joan mcgettigan | July 7, 2011, 1:22 pm
  4. Paula, thanks for your brave post. I appreciate your sharing.

    Posted by Matt Landahl | July 7, 2011, 1:23 pm
    • Matt,
      I really appreciate the recognition this was a brave post–I found how hard it really was as I was trying write it–it’s taken most of a whole morning of my vacation. Lyn’s and Jon’s posts really helped.

      I have to also say I don’t comment on your blog, but I love your sharing as well–the hawk post at http://elementaryleadershipmattlandahl.blogspot.com/ was one of my favorites!

      Would love to cross post that one here and do some commenting on it. Are you up for that? Either guest posting or joining the co-op and sharing your thoughts here as well?

      Would love to have you join us and share what you guys are doing–Greer’s work is work that should be replicated.

      Paula

      Posted by Paula White | July 7, 2011, 2:26 pm
  5. I’m always appreciative of what you have to share, Paula, so I’m glad to see you ‘back.’ I wish I could have caught up with you more at ISTE. I needed either 2 more days or a clone. That’s what happens when it’s hosted in your town I suppose!

    It was nice to see you and thanks for such an open and honest post.

    Posted by marybethhertz | July 7, 2011, 2:16 pm
  6. That’s what happens when you are as giving as you are, Mary Beth. I so appreciated seeing your kids in the video in the opening session–it must have been fun for you to do with them.

    There are several conferences in Philly in the next year or so–I hope we’ll manage that “catch up” at one of those–perhaps Educon.

    And, thanks–I’m glad to be ‘back’ and to have let go of the hard feelings.

    Posted by Paula White | July 7, 2011, 2:30 pm
  7. It was great to meet you in-person at ISTE. I recently almost quit blogging at TeachPaperless because of a few really harsh comments. I’ve had times when I nearly deleted my blog and twice I actually deleted my Twitter account for the reasons you mention.

    I think we talked about this a bit at ISTE. I’m an INFJ, with a high score in both the N and the F, which means I get hurt and I internalize it. I feel things strongly and though I don’t attack people, I’ve been known to go after systems (which I attempt to do with a sense of balance and nuance); which I suppose meant fair game to attack me and make bold assumptions about my motives or my beliefs.

    It’s great to have you back. Looking forward to more posts.

    Posted by johntspencer | July 7, 2011, 4:14 pm
    • John both you and Paula add so much to the conversations. I always look for both of your posts–I know they’ll be thoughtful. I am an INFP so relate totally to what you’ve said. Thanks to both of you for making this conversation visible.

      Posted by Susan Carter Morgan | July 8, 2011, 5:17 pm
  8. Thank you for sharing so much of your experience and reflection, Paula, here and in all your work and conversations.

    It is good to be talking with you here again!

    I love this:

    …we don’t really know why people act like they do unless we ask and they share their thinking.

    What a powerful idea for teaching and relating to students. I wish people didn’t skip this step – I’m reminded, again, of the power of the pause, though I find pausing difficult.

    Onward, eh?
    C

    Posted by Chad Sansing | July 7, 2011, 6:06 pm
  9. Your words are always so thoughtful and I always feel you care and love for what you do. Just like any relationship, the internet has it strengths and weakness… I had my own battles with online communities on Tumblr…. and had a hard time unfollow someone too….but in the end, we must spend our energy on what helps us learn and grow and be happy. If a relationship is not doing that we must be okay (or learn) to walk away. Thanks for sharing your own journey.
    welcome back!
    David

    Posted by dloitz | July 8, 2011, 1:46 am
  10. Paula,
    I am so glad to see you writing, sharing again. I had a crazy-busy school year and was intermittently absent from Twitter, so I didn’t realize it had been so long since I had heard your voice. As they say, time flies..
    I am very happy that we got to meet face to face, and I am sorry that we didn’t have that second chance for a longer conversation. I am open to that when you have some time, though, as I think we have some common desires for the students we work with. Skype, G+, whatever!
    I appreciate your openness. It’s not easy to be vulnerable, but clearly you have many who support you and love the work that you do. Thanks for jumping back in.

    Posted by Joan Young | July 8, 2011, 10:15 pm
  11. Paula, Some really beautiful sharing here, and also powerful modeling about how much we all mean to each other, how connected we all are, and how easily each of us is hurt each other, and internalize those hurts. I am so glad you found a way to write about this, to make it public, that your process had lead to this post and all the great learning and knowing that comes out of describing this.

    In appreciation,

    Kirsten

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | July 10, 2011, 10:49 am

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