A while ago I wrote about destination fatigue; I’ve been thinking about this more and more, particularly after a conversation I had with a friend this past weekend. My friend teaches graphic design at a SUNY not far from where I live, and we were talking about preparing students for the World Out There. Their ideas of appropriate dress and behavior are different from ours but those are the things that can be changed and molded. What’s more difficult is their ideas of privacy and how best to work.
In this day of Augmented Reality and games like Foursquare, with Facebook’s creator deciding that privacy is not important, how do we teach students to create a private space? How do we let them know that not sharing everything has value – it’s not just about mystery, it’s about preserving a sense of self in a world where we’re increasingly nakedly “out there”. Will there be a backlash, a move to going off the grid?
As for the way in which they work, they’ve been told that their generation has mastered the art of multitasking (or continuous partial attention). They’ve had expectations lowered and distractions raised so that working on one thing, mindfully, is a novel idea. How many of my students watch tv and do homework and text and listen to their iPod at the same time? I’d venture a guess that it’s quite a lot of them.
I’m guilty, too. I feel compelled to keep up professionally, so at night I read my RSS feeds and try to catch up on the links being shared on twitter and look at the elists to which I’m subscribed; all that takes about around 3 hours a night. For me to accomplish all that, I have to watch tv at the same time – otherwise, I won’t be able to spend time reading before bed. It’s difficult for me to concentrate on the tv AND the professional ‘keeping up’ at the same time, so neither get done particularly well.
I think back to my life before I became a librarian, when work was 9-5 and that was it; my evenings and weekends were my own. There wasn’t a need to carve out “me” time because that was abundant. I didn’t feel guilty about not attending the Knowledge Building Center seminar tonight. I didn’t have a sense of panic about not doing the right thing by my students and school because I was missing something that could help them in their search for academic success. Getting an invitation to become part of the New Media Literacies site shouldn’t make me resent opening my e-mail.
What I need – what we all need – is to stop time a little. To really think about what’s more important, ourselves or everyone else, and to find a way to balance that. All this overwhelm and scrambling to keep up just means that something is getting left behind; I’d rather it not be my life, or yours.