A Four-Letter Suffix that Changed My Life: Part One

Back in 2006-ish when I first signed up for a Gmail account, the username “dastengo” had already been taken. Since I planned on using this as my primary email address, I wanted to keep it professional.

Google had other plans for me.

Instead of “dastengo,” Google suggested I try several available variations of Danielle Astengo, all of which, with the exception of one, were followed by a string of numbers. Amid the numerical chaos was “astengorama”—just hanging out all nonchalantly like it was no different from the others. I, of course, recognized the poetry in Google’s Black Swan. Or the hilarity of it, rather. After laughing at the audacity of the Google robots I happily accepted their clever joke and I became “astengorama.”

So here’s how a four-letter suffix that became part of my email address, which eventually became my nickname, evolved into the defining research project of my graduate student career.

2007. Danielle registers the username astengorama with Google. Also, D decides to “quit” school by abandoning 16-units at SDSU the week before finals because f*** that, she’s moving to Chico anyway.

2007-2008. D uses astengorama Gmail to sign up for everything on the internet that requires an email address, including Butte County Community College which she has to attend for two semesters in order to be taken seriously by the admissions department at CSU, Chico.

2009. D unsubscribes to almost everything that she had previously signed up for (including community college) using her astengorama Gmail and uses it instead for communication with people and entities affiliated with Chico State as she makes her academic come-back.

A few weeks later in 2009: D submits astengorama.com to Dr. Baker, a comparative literature professor, as her preferable means of contact on an attendance card in her first English class as an English major. Dr. B is amused. D is amused that someone else finally thinks it’s funny too.

2010. D takes a second class with Dr. B and D follows same procedure with attendance card. Dr. B exclaims “The astengorama!” when he notices he has a repeat customer and is amused for a second time. D is amused that he remembers. The rest of class is not amused. During the semester, Dr. B casually references Honoré de Balzac and his novel Père Goriot several times.

4 or 5 months later, still in 2010. D remembers Balzac and Père Goriot when she’s studying abroad in France and reads novels by French authors to cope when culture shock hits and warm baguettes have lost their romantic charm. She gets to this part in the novel:

“The rest of the lodgers appeared, one after the other, both those who lived in and those who did not, wishing each other good day and murmuring those empty phrases which, among certain sorts of Parisians, constitute a kind of droll good humor of which stupidity is the main component and whose principal virtue consist only in how the words are pronounced or what gestures accompany them. This sort of jargon is always changing. The jokes that underlie it never last a month: some political event, some lawsuit or trial, a street song, some actor’s comic routine, all serve to keep this joke going, since more than anything else it involves snatching up words and ideas as they go flying past, and then hitting them back, as if with racquets. That new invention, the Diorama, which carries optical illusion to an even higher level than did the panorama, has led a number of painters’ studios to coin the jesting word “rama,” the introduction of which term into the Maison Vauquer was effected by a young painter who often visited and had, as it were, inoculated the pension with it.”

Extracts from the conversation that follows that passage:

“How’s our little healthorama going?”

“Are we ever going to have dinnerama?”

“It’s incredibly coltarama.”

“Why do you say coltarama? That’s wrong, you ought to say coldarama.”

“‘No, no . . . according to the rule, it has to be coltarama, as in my feet are colt.”

“Ah ha! Here comes a wonderful souparama,”

“Excuse me, monsieur,” said Madame Vauquer, “but this is cabbage soup.”

The young men began to laugh uproariously.

“That’s the end of you, Poiret!”

“No more Poiret!”

“Score two for Momma Vauquer.”

D thinks she understands the root of Dr. B’s amusement—he’s a Balzac scholar, after all. The astengorama is funnier than ever.

2011. D gets over culture shock and has so much fun in France that she creates her “astengorama” WordPress blog and immediately forgets about it for three years. D eventually returns home and discovers that reverse culture shock is a real son of a bitch and that it won’t be placated by even Balzac’s humor. The rest of the year can be summed up with an emoticon: :’(

2012. D returns to CSU, Chico as a Graduate Student in the literature pathway of the English M.A. program. Goals are tenuous. Teaching literature and waiting tables in a diner in Hawaii both seem like good options.

2013. D decides to pursue teaching literature and serves as a Teaching Assistant in Dr. B’s “Great Books” class. D gives her first lesson to the class while they are reading Père Goriot. Inspired by Balzac’s theories on social evolution and their similarity to modern theories of cultural evolution, she has the students make internet memes of notable characters in the novel. Lesson is a success. D is intrigued. See “featured photo.”

2014. D teaches her own section of “Great Books.” D revamps the lesson on memes and tries it again. It’s still a success.

In the second installment of “A Four-Letter Suffix that Changed My Life“: D, now passionate about teaching and pursuing a single-subject teaching credential, decides to write a thesis focused on how to teach Balzac. She is inspired by Henry Jenkins’ Reading in a Participatory Culture as much as she is inspired by her two years of teaching academic writing and literature. Also, she finally remembers her astengorama WordPress blog. 

Connected Courses: ALL THE WHY’S! o/

I am realizing how brilliant a thing it is to start with “why” in this Connected Courses kick off week. And many thanks to Mike Wesch, Mimi Ito, and Helen Keegan for getting us started. In a way, starting with “why” means we must start with reflection, something we typically reserve until the end of a project or a course. What a fabulous way to “bring the end forward” as my (now happily retired) colleague Judith Rodby was known to say. “Bringing the end forward” is actually quite challenging in a course (or in life for that matter): you must imagine an end goal while still allowing for emerging ideas and digressions. Knowing the why can support us as we participate in challenging ideas and projects, but too often in school, the why is simply because I need to finish school.

I spent the last couple of weeks thinking a lot about my whys in education. Why do I teach? I certainly started my own higher ed journey with both a less sophisticated (“I just need to finish school”) but also a high stakes why: I had a hope that a college degree would help me out of a terrible marriage and allow me to support myself and two toddlers. “I just need to finish school” can actually turn out to be a profound why. Almost twenty years ago now, my journey started as a sad tale: I was sitting on the floor in the tiny house in Gridley, CA sobbing because my then spouse had not been home in three days, the phone was turned off, I had no gas money—felt completely closed off from the rest of the world. I had these two sleeping toddlers in the other room, content underneath their 101 Dalmatians comforters. I went to my bedroom and pulled out a box of old school stuff, dug through until I found my transcripts and my outdated Chico State catalog, and sat down on the floor. Through tears I flipped through the pages, matching disciplines with coursework I had already completed years before. When I was done, I decided that I could get a degree in English the fastest and believed that somehow with that college degree I’d have a better chance to support myself and these sleeping babies; I never wanted to feel this stuck ever again in my life. The next week, I found a place in Chico we could afford and moved back so I could be closer to my family and their support. When my daughter, Ashley, started Kindergarten that fall, I started Chico State–fall of 1995–and never looked back. A BA, an MA, a PhD, a tenure-track job in my hometown, a new marriage, and happily grown children twenty years later, affords me the gift of time…to think about new “whys.” This gift of time–time to think, time to reflect–is such a privilege.

So, why do I teach? I teach because day after day I get to see the generous work students do for us. They take our (often) confusing assignments and our attempts to create a space for learning, and they generously try them on–write, talk, play, and even forgive us for our failed efforts at this thing we call higher education. And in the moments when they stop doing the work of higher ed for me and do the work for their own goals for learning, they always blow me away. I get to learn from these amazing humans every day and I am so grateful that students are willing to produce and share their creations with us. How could you NOT want to teach, when you get to witness work like this:

Amanda Haydon’s vlog synthesis after a couple of weeks reading about open access:

Sheila’s blog post, wrestling with the “why” of Connected Courses and digital platforms.

My freshman, Matt Mulholland, has an amazing blog this week about gaming.

The films freshmen have created about digital culture:

Stormie’s film looks at the “production” of our persona/identity.

This film from Larly Lee and his team asks how you will use this powerful platform known as the web:

Anthony Miranda’s film gives us a hopeful view of education and some fabulous educators:

Why do I teach? See examples above. ^  Students. They rule.


My digital path

Greetings and salutations,Greetings, Connected Courses! Glad to be aboard at last. professors and master teachers, and fellow students and colleagues at Connected Courses! My name is Sheila, a student in Dr. Jaxon’s 692 course, “Digital Culture(s),” and am so happy to be a part of Connected Courses and the concept of “open access” education, even though I’m not sure what it all entails. Not only am I a digital literacy newbie (and new to the discipline of Composition), but I’m also, for the most part, new to interacting online academically, except, of course, for email and our college’s electronic platforms.

Truth be told, for the last several years, I have grappled with having a web presence/online identity–though I once had a short love affair with Facebook, a couple of years ago. All in all, I enjoyed interacting with others and sharing photos; however, after six months of spending on average about 1.5-2 hours a day on FB, that is, keeping up with friends and relatives and uploading and diligently commenting on photos, as well as trying to navigate and assuage the social drama that seemed to erupt and take on a life of itself from misunderstandings from, what I believe, were the absence of facial cues and voice tones, I realized just how much I missed how I used to spend those precious 1.5-2 hours: be it walking and jogging or hiking through a park, or working in the yard, or gleefully suspended in a piece of fiction or non-fiction, or if time really allowed, dabbling in hobbies put on hold. I also missed meeting with my friends and family in person, as well as devoting more time to the community organizations I’m involved in and serve in. (Don’t get me wrong, I still am fascinated by aspects of FB and other social media. Maybe I’ll check out Instagram? Communicating via images sounds interesting. Is there a Snapchat for older people like myself?!) Oh, I failed to mention that  there was this thing called a “Master’s thesis,” creative literary project in my case, that needed to be written and rewritten, and so on. Hence, the urgency and necessity of my project was the ultimate deal breaker in my relationship with FB.

All that being said, it probably seems odd to hear that a Composition Studies’ student–one who’s recently graduated with a Master’s in English, in addition to previously completing a Bachelor’s in Linguistics and English, including TESOL certificate and minor in Creative Writing (as well as outside courses in psychology and counseling from another college source), and one who, during grad school, interned as well as taught a section of Beginning Creative Writing–is, in this age of all ages, digitally impaired.

I want to blame my lack of digital online experience on the fact that I enjoy being away from the computer and its glow of blue screen more than being on it (except when completing course work or creating a piece of fiction–don’t miss typewriters at all!), and on the fact that I grew up during the years of the Vietnam War and the things and ideas of that era, not to mention the Old World values I was raised with, things which only seem to work against me when it comes to trusting the online experience, as well as on the fact that I have spent most of my early and later adult years working in the private sector (among other things, such as all the messy things, and all the trial and tribulations, for better or worse, that come with relationships and living a life), working hard, sometimes working two jobs, as I tried my best to make ends meet and carve out a career for myself in corporate America. Of course with that commitment came the obligatory night classes at the local community college, that is, if one was interested in having a shot at moving up the corporate ladder(s), and/or keeping one’s job, especially when the “Outsourcing” phenomenon of the ’80s hit. In terms of employment, the mid ’90s for me was mainly keeping my job in the atmosphere of the resulting downsizing of jobs; working became a way of life, and what was happening in the world of the Internet didn’t seem all that important. But I digress. Granted, there’s much more to my life journey, experiences and lessons learned, but for our purposes I limit my discussion to my digital path, which at this point seems embarrassingly limited.

Okay, where am I going with this? I digress too much. Are we allowed to digress in blogs? And just what is a blog, its purpose, its intent? These questions quickly come to mind. A lot of questions revolving around the digital experience are coming to mind now that I’m taking Dr. Jaxon’s course, which involves Connected Courses, making me that much more excited about understanding and creating a digital identity, especially how it relates to teaching FYC with the digital literacy component. Yay, I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of things! What a time to learn about teaching FYC! I surmise that these emerging questions re all things digital were there all along in the back of my brain somewhere all through the years; I was just too busy trying to do relationships and life, and then school and life, in the frame I understood it. But now I see that there are so many more connections and collaborations that can be made in the ever-evolving digital world of things. Heck, even the community organizations I’m involved with could greatly benefit from digital collaboration. Now, if only I could get over the idea of a web presence/digital identity and the idea that a lot of folks are possibly going to be reading what I just blogged.

My response to “Why We Need a Why” will soon follow. My mind is still processing and digesting the information from the Connected Course webcast.  So many great things on the horizon for teaching. A very exciting time, indeed. I may be a little distrustful, a little hesitant, but all in all, I’m ready to embrace the new concepts being presented to me. I just have to remember not to hit the publish button until I am ready to do so.

Fair Warning

So up until this point, I have been one of those annoying college students who “hates blogging.” I hated it so much that I refused to implement it in my syllabus for the freshman comp class I teach. If I hated writing them, I wasn’t interested in forcing my students to write them. Period.

Then I read danah boyd’s paper “A Blogger’s Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium” and, to my horror, I realized that I don’t hate blogs at all. What I hate are the “discussion posts” that so many professors refer to as “blogs.” Those aren’t blogs at all? I love writing, how could I ever believe that I would hate to blog?

When asked to define a blog, an experienced blogger told danah:

“It’s a blog because a blogger’s doing it. It’s a blog because it’s caught up in the practice of blogging. It’s a blog because it’s made on blog tools. It’s a blog because it’s made up out of blog parts. It’s a blog because bloggers are engaged with it, and everyone points at it and says, “It’s a blog!” – Carl” (9)

So here I am, blogging. I’m a blogger(?) Weird. In the spirit of trying new things with an open mind, I am attempting to build a productive blogging life. What does that look like? No, really, what does that look like? Cuz I don’t have a clue, but I’m trying. I suppose it looks a lot like a productive writing life, just in a space where people can see what I’m writing…

In conjunction with blogging for the Connected Course and Kim’s grad class, I’m going to attempt to use this as a space to organize my thoughts about the data I am collecting for my thesis (emphasis on “attempt”). Four times a week, I sit in on two small group mentoring spaces that we refer to as English 30 (each group meets twice a week for fifty minute periods). I take copious color-coded notes that look more like a play-by-play than actual observations that make any sense whatsoever. I also record the audio from each session (I’ve found that students get nervous if I set up a camera and end up censoring themselves but will forget that I’m recording their voices if I set my ipad on the desk next to me).

While observing these spaces, I am looking at identity construction: how does each mentor take on the identity of “teacher”? I use the term “teacher” very broadly here because I have found in my own experience as a 30 mentor that my identity is incredibly fluid. In any given period, I go from the more formal roles of teacher or mentor to informal roles of peer or even friend to my students, depending on their needs. I do this instinctively. I am firm when I need my students to take me seriously and I am soft when my students are vulnerable and that to me is utterly fascinating. I’ve always been interested in identity construction and now I’m curious about how 30 mentors construct their “teacher” identities in their classes. How do they know when to shift? How do these shifts in identity help them reach their students, from the most invested to the most resistant?

Given that this post is titled “Fair Warning,” here’s the warning part: From this point on, I will post quite often and I will use incredibly boring and generic ways of distinguishing between the mentors, their interns, and the students. When I say boring, I mean it. Mentor 1, Interns 1 & 2, Students 1 through 10. So boring. I may be showing my age and inexperience here, but in my mind, it is important for me to think about these students by their real names because they are very real people and I know quite a bit about each of them. While I am in the space, I don’t want to confuse their real names with some pseudonym that I have given them. I would never look at a student are think of them as “Student 7.” The numbers are simply to tell them apart in this blog space.

But perhaps I should back up: 30 spaces look nothing like traditional classrooms. There are a maximum of eleven students in each space and one mentor. It is possible to have up to two interns (upperclassmen who are aspiring to be 30 mentors the following semester). It is also possible that each student in the 30 space has a different English 130 (Academic Writing) teacher. There is no homework, no tests, no final. The only way to not get credit for English 30 is to not show up. Which is weird, because English 30 is fun.

All we do in the space is support students in whatever way we (meaning the mentors, the interns, and the students together) see fit. That could mean workshopping a paper, learning research methods, spending time in the library, playing silly writing games like Exquisite Corpse, etc. Every space looks dramatically different and every space is specific to each mentor and each group of students. That’s part of the beauty of the space and part of what makes it so fascinating to study.

So here goes nothing. Wish me luck? K, thanks.

D.D.D.D. (AKA An Annoyingly Apt Alliteration)

After watching Mike Wesch’s talk “Why We Need a Why” in Kim Jaxon’s grad class, Kim challenged us to think about why we chose to pursue higher education. Why grad school? Why pay all this money and put ourselves through all this stress? What’s the point, again?

My “why” began when I was nineteen. It was like one day I was just a “normal” college student and the next day, I woke up in pain and I had no idea why. To be honest, I don’t remember the day it began. It was just there. I was sitting in a cultural anthropology lecture and there was this awful pain shooting up my leg. It felt like something invisible was grabbing my calf and every few seconds whatever was holding me would squeeze so tight, it sent waves of pain racing up my leg. Eventually, I began imagining the pain as a monster with long, sharp claws that dug in to my skin and muscle.

I thought the pain would go away, so I waited it out for a few weeks before I talked to a doctor (I’ve always been a rather stubborn child). A few months, three specialists, a chiropractor, an untrasound technician, and my primary physician later, and I had a diagnosis. Degenerative disc disease isn’t really a disease. I honestly have no idea why they call it that. It’s a genetic condition that no one else in my family has (that dang mailman strikes again). In a nutshell, the discs in my spine aren’t healthy. Three of them are herniated, which means they are bulging and, every time they compress (AKA every time I sit down), they spit acidic fluid onto my nerves. Not cool.

“Degenerative Disc Disease Dani.” That’s what I called myself. For the first few months, it was a dirty secret. I didn’t want anyone to know I was different. Telling my professors on the first day of school felt like confessing a sin. I hated having to explain why I was constantly shifting in my seat, why I couldn’t sit still for longer than a few minutes, why I would have to leave for a few minutes every class period to walk off the pain.

I have written so many creative nonfiction pieces about the negative ways in which this has affected my life, but somehow I seem to avoid talking about the best thing that this weird, incredibly painful disease has done for me. The traumatizing hospital scenes and the miraculous surgery drama are, in many ways, more interesting for a very young and inexperienced writer. But after watching “Why We Need a Why” and talking to Kim, I now know that “Degenerative Disc Disease Dani” is my “why.”

After my diagnosis, I was advised to drop out of school in favor of a treatment offered to me by a chiropractor that would require me to come in to his office three times a week to be hooked up to a machine that would slowly stretch my spine. No matter how gently he described the process to me, it still sounded like a particularly cruel kind of torture. In his defense, he was probably right. When my discs are spitting out fluid that is causing permanent nerve damage every time I sit down, and all you do as a student is sit down, staying in school isn’t exactly a smart move. I told him I’d think about it. When my mom and I got home from his office, I walked into my room, sat on my bed, and let the tears fall. Because even then, in my moment of silent crisis, the pain was there and it was never going away.

That realization was all it took. I wasn’t going to move back home with my parents and have my mother drive me to the doctor’s office three times a week. I sure as hell wasn’t going to be strapped to some high tech torture device for a treatment that probably wouldn’t even work since my discs are in such bad shape. And I wasn’t going to stop living my life just because a few doctors with fancy degrees told me I’m a little different.

So “Degenerative Disc Disease Dani” became my “why.” I’ve always been stubborn and willful and I knew in that moment that I wanted this life more than I wanted to breathe. More than I wanted to live a life without pain. I could deal with pain. At that point, I was in pain every single day. Within ten minutes of sitting down, that monster’s hand was grabbing my leg again. So I stayed in school. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in four years and I will graduate with a master’s this May. Woot woot!

I imagine that most people’s “why” has probably changed over the years. I think the core of mine may always be the same. This disease is never going away. It will only get worse and I’ve accepted that. But I have never once regretted my choice to stay in school. Not even when, three months after that chiropractor asked me to consider dropping out of school, pieces of one of my herniated discs broke off and tangled themselves in my nerves, putting me in a kind of pain that was so excruciating, so mind numbing, there are no words to describe it. And believe me, I’ve tried (remember the creative nonfiction?).

So here I am, post-surgery, soft-core traumatized by my hospital experience, and more driven than ever to stay in school. Most days, I feel very little pain. Some days (like Monday), it takes me 45 minutes to maneuver myself out of bed. Some days, just putting on socks and shoes is a challenge (I’d like to take this moment to point out that I am twenty-three years old and putting on socks and shoes should never be that difficult). I love and hate those days. They remind me that I am not invincible and they are my body’s way of telling me, “For the love of God, woman, SLOW DOWN.” Nearly having this college experience ripped away from me has led to a “do all the things” mentality and sometimes I need to be reminded that I’m only human. And I’m not even a fully functioning human. I’m a little different. And that’s why I’m here.

The Real Why

Why should students take my course? Because… …it isn’t so much my course the students are taking, but rather our course that we will co-construct as colleagues throughout the semester. …I can only provide the skeleton bones of the course and add assorted meats to the structure; students are the Dr. Frankenstein of the whole operation who bring that spark to old and new materials, making them come to life. …everyone has the ability to engage in meaningful discussions about things they are interested in and should be given the opportunity to do so with colleagues and peers in an open space where they feel comfortable enough to share ideas and can actively participate with, push against  and challenge those around them in order to further whatever “the thing” is. …as individuals in the world we can make an impact, but as a collaborative whole we can make a difference. …learning and discovering new things shouldn’t suck. This isn’t an all inclusive list, but by adding your “Why” -just one thought or line-  in the comment feed, we can gather up a collaborative list of things that can make the educational experience not suck for everyone. So I leave you this time with the question Randy Bass, Cathy Davidson and Mike Wesch posed…What is your Why?

The Identity Campaign #Identity

This class has got me thinking. A lot. Maybe too much. But maybe that’s good.
A professor recently followed my Twitter account. To some, that may elicit a sense of excitement or even pride, knowing a professor you looked up to took an interest in YOUR words.

I had a sense of sheer panic.

My Twitter account, which I pretty much NEVER use is connected to my Instagram account, to which no one follows me so my posts and pictures are, let me just say, what I assumed for my eyes only...to some degree.

Until now.

My digital identity is all over the place. I am professional, albeit sparse, on my LinkedIn, which I never go to until I get an email that someone has been stalking that page, which is usually an ex-boyfriend or people I have no connection with from across the country. I deleted my Facebook account and my blogs haven’t been updated in months, if that. The only thing I had been religious on was my Instagram and that was mostly from boredom, child-like tendencies to excitedly make jokes and say inappropriate things and scroll through my feed which consists of nothing but surfers and surf-like Instas that I follow. I think I personally know only one of the people I follow and they never post, so really, it has become my own little world of just me and strangers who I live vicariously through.

Until now.

My world changed abruptly when I received an email telling me my professor was following my Twitter feed...the same one connected to my Instagram which I am sure has a photo of my ass from when I got raked by a spike in the ground at a slip and slide party which excited me when the bruised gash started to look like the Eye of Mordor. That is my Digital Identity. My ass with the Eye of Mordor on it. That probably isn’t good.

In my panic I raced through my phone, attempting to delete all the posts that were associated with Instagram but soon I felt defeated. Why did I have to hide who I was (physically and personally)? Why did I panic when I realized that a professional might see who I really am, or who I portray myself as, unintentionally, on Instagram. Would this affect my future career? Would my humor and willingness to laugh at myself for my own faults and clumsiness be the things that ruin my chances at a job? Would my past, my modeling, be the other thing? But I don’t want to have to hide my accomplishments, even if they do not fall within the “professional realm”. I hate the idea that I cannot be myself and a professional at the same time. How do I find the right Digital Identity where I can be me, all personalities and “multiple spirits” included?

I wanted to figure out what it was that I wanted to have represent me, but how can I do that if I don’t even know who I am. I mean, I know who I am (wild, weird, open, honest, and willing to put myself out there for the sake of a laugh or whatever and following my dream of being a writer and teacher) but how do I keep honest with myself and yet figure out how I want to represent myself?

This has been frustrating. I hated that part about teaching high school. You could hide all you wanted, but you never knew when someone knew someone on Facebook and any joke I made or photo I took that was in no relation to school or my career could have easily been misconstrued and my career could have been at risk. I joke, I curse, I have fun, I am human. But having this digital identity you can’t really do that and I want to fight that. The idea of “personal censorship” is maddening to me. Who I am in my “hidden” Instagram or my Twitter account that I never use should not be used against me for any reason, but it can be and most likely it would be. And I hate that because who I am in the classroom and my work in my career is in no relation to the “Eye of Mordor” picture I have. Yes, it’s my ass, but it is also my humor and my wit and my creativity and my openness about who I am as a person. Must I fear who I am? The binding ties make me want to scream.

I wanted to start a campaign for finding ones own digital identity. No more shame for being yourself, but instead the ability to express who you are. Using #Identity, I wanted to express who I am through photos and words. My love, my strength, my fears, my passions. Why can’t I use this element to figure out who I am? And maybe even who you are. I am not a fan of trending, but I am a fan of getting people to take a step back and try to figure out what it is we are doing on this World Wide Web. This monstrous being that we have all yet to figure out. There are growing pains, there will be consequences, but can we still not exercise our rights of freedom of speech? Why am I so ashamed to know my professor is following me when I have nothing to be ashamed of? I am human. Someone who is following a dream. But I fear losing myself and my “multiple spirits” in the process of that dream for fear of being prosecuted for my individuality.

I want to use my #identity to make a point. I am creative, I am open, I am me. I do not want that to affect my career. If I am successful at my craft it is because I am successful at my craft. It is my #identity that makes me who I am and also makes me successful. Why should that be held against me? If anything it should be supportive that I am willing to find myself so that others and even students can also find themselves. I think it is time we teach #identity in classes, showing students how to be themselves and professional at the same time. Can we do that? Can we make it so that we can be ourselves and professionals at the same time? It’s like having to hide tattoos at work. Why? Why are we constantly hiding who we are? I understand that tattoos are still taboo and that some can be seen as offensive and that, say, as an ambulance worker works on an elderly lady having a heart attack, she may have an emotional or stressful reaction to a tattooed man who is in her home while she is on the brink of death. But isn’t that just a stereotypical response? When will we break down those walls? Can we not be professionals in our field and yet have a real life? Take Tom Kuntz as an example. Can he help us pave the way to a new identity for teachers and what we are expected to look like and act like? Is hiding who we are maybe the thing that is held against us in the eyes of the students? Is them seeing us as “not human” causing a rift and keeping students from wanting to listen? “Who is she anyway? She has no idea what I have been through. She doesn’t understand me”, seeing teachers as pods who only come out to teach, when in reality, teachers are some of the weirdest people you will ever know. Is our lack of #identity the thing that keeps us from really connecting with the students and the curriculum? Maybe if we bring our life to the class and to the world we can be seen as someone who is human and we too use this curriculum in our strange, daily lives. It’s like the tutor vs teacher phenomenon. Students want to feel comfortable in a learning environment, so can we achieve this with #identity?

There are so many fine lines and psychological aspects to this. You cannot be a friend if you are trying to be an authority figure. That is a given. But can we not be human? Can we not be who we are? At what point are we too much ourselves?

This digital identity concept has been both frustrating and thought-provoking. I want to find a way to incorporate this into my WAW class concept. There are so many “things” to cover and I am still not sure at what point DI will be something that can be solved. Judgements will always be passed as it always has throughout human existence. But maybe, as we start to grow with the burgeoning WWW, maybe we can begin to find a way in which we can be both ourselves and professionals without the fear of being persecuted.