I should conclude this class with a final blog post that A) addresses my own prompt and B) is in the form of poem (my favorite creative form). Putting what we’ve learned into perspective, I see a sea of information, learning, teaching, authors, experts, newbies, and perspectives. There seems, in the most empowering, autonomous way possible, to be no correct answers to any questions addressed in the past ten weeks–a feat I cannot say I have ever accomplished in my seven quarters at Stanford. If someone had told me this would be the case at the end of the quarter, I would have been furious. I would have been frustrated with the idea that the answer could not be found in the reading or in the lecture notes. I would have wondered how I was suppose to have an opinion, not knowing when to classify my thoughts as mere speculation or as valuable contributions to the discussion that would lead us closer to “the point.” That’s where my poem will begin: The Point.
What’s the point?
What’s the point of this class?
What’s the point of social media?
What’s the point of the internet and connecting to people and reading and writing each other’s thoughts when God gave us more than enough biological machinery to talk through it?
What’s the idea behind there always being a future and there always being “adopters” and “laggers” and “a cutting edge”–”if you’re not falling off the edge, you’re not on it” (Rheingold).
Who’s idea was it to introduce technology into a world that didn’t even know what it meant to communicate instantly with someone on another continent, that didn’t even know a message could get to another continent, that didn’t even know another soul to send a message to on another continent? What’s the point?
What’s the point of knowing people on another continent?
How many people do we already NOT know on our own continent?
Was there always a stigma to being a home-body, to being a town girl, to being a nationalistic, self-interested, own culture-interested, single-culture mama’s boy?
Why does “international” make him sexier?
Who in France would seek out a rude American; who in America would seek out a stinky Frenchman? Why do we think we know that Americans are rude and the French smell like cheese and French accents mean romance and American blond boys mean football?
How did we get tangled up in this stereotype mess; that’s the point.
That’s the point of “opposites attract.”
That’s the point of curiosity killed the cat when he tried, sans the techy tools, to find the answers, to find out love, to seek the other–to connect.
That’s the point of “expanding horizons.” The backyard got dull, the town got too small, the home already housed the body in every way imaginable, so the boy sought culture outside of mama’s.
And he could. He could go on an exploration of France, of food, of thoughts, of language, and of continents, all without stepping outside of his bedroom.
That’s the point of curiosity and pursuit with the courage that comes with being in the comfort of some place familiar, close enough to get the details but far enough to stay safe.
That’s the magic of the internet.
The magic began first for research–for pursuit of bigger things.
But the real magic began with simple quests of connection.
From email to instant message to instant message on your phone to instant message in the airplane to instant tracking on the Himalayas.
That’s the magic, the point, of social media: we are always sharing and never alone.
Used for better or for worse, the magic flows across borders, across cultures, across lives, and across generations, all kept on file for a later time.
We use it now as trend followers, but oh, the power we have to use it as archivists, historians, and storytellers, THAT. IS. THE POINT.
That’s the point of this class.
We’ve learned to love the network and hate the frauds.
We’ve learned to think for ourselves and convey what we think, as well as what we think about what we think.
We’ve exercised thinking and reflecting on what others think about.
We’ve learned to share, to share our voice and our lives, to share our findings and our inquiries, to wonder further than what our grade will be or even what the answer will be; rather, we have learned to wonder about wondering, wandering through the contexts and theories and ponders that lay in the waves of the internet and social media; THAT, is the point.