Going from "It" to "Out": Dealing with network withdrawal

Sunday after going to church and eating lunch with my family, I got to relax by the pond, watch the millows meander and the dragonflies hum as I fished for catfish. I enjoyed being “out” of it.

We went home and watched the The Pride of the Yankees, about baseball great Lou Gehrig (which is worth seeing just to see the Real Babe Ruth play himself) and had a very interesting discussion about how quickly a person arises into “fame” and then can be snuffed out due to health reasons or retirement.

It was a fascinating discussion with the kids and my husband about going from being “It” to being “Out.” (Gehrig died in his thirties from the disease named after him.)

My children observed that that seems to be the problem with Britney Spears here in the states. They think that she will, “Do whatever it takes to stay on the front page… not able to deal with the fact that she's no longer ‘it.‘”

I also see this in the blogosphere and twittersphere
It is a dangerous path to trod to be dependent upon the feedback of others for one's self esteem.

For a while, when I first emerged into the blogosphere, and then had to go away from it for a while, I was plagued with guilty feelings. What would I miss? Who would I not respond to? What would happen without me? Would I be left “out?”

Then, it slowly dawned on me that the twittersphere and blogosphere and all such things will rock on just nicely without me and that is OK.

In today's world of hurry and scurry, we have still got to be able to disconnect and slow down!

A life to live!
I also think that most of us feel “out” at least some time or other.

For example, I didn't have time to do color Wars 2008 (the world's most massive game of rock, paper, scissors using Flickr) this weekend — I had things to do with my family… and that was OK!

And I missed out on the Christmas “elf” santa thing a lot of twitters did over Christmas. I haven't been able to do any memes and am quite behind on my RSS reader.

Does this mean that I am insufficient? Does this mean that I'm doing something “wrong?” Should I feel “guilty?”

Realization that we ARE “it”
And almost by divine providence, I opened up my “Real Simple” magazine and saw this poem from Maya Angelou:

“When we come to it/
We must confess that
we are the possible/
We are the miraculous,
the true wonders
of this world/
That is when,
and only when/
We come to it.”

Maya Angelou from A Brave and Startling Truth (c) 1995, Random House

Being “it” is not being “in.”
It is being me.

In this world of immersive, submersive social networking — we can easily lose ourselves. I find that it is easy to get lost in a sea of friends and left wondering where and who I am.

We have got to teach students and ourselves how to navigate these waters and continue to have a strong, grounded, purpose and life. How to be “called” when everyone is call-ing.

I find that I HAVE to make the time to spend alone in prayer and reading my Bible. I also have to find time alone to read and just think and ponder.

I even have to find time to fish.

Let's go fly a kite
I saw something terribly disturbing last Friday. We were out flying kites with the kindergarten class and my six year old son who is a student in the class. Many parents came out to enjoy this.

As my husband and I struggled to help our son get his kite up — we'd get it up and it would fall. It would go up, he'd run a while or run into another kid and then it would get tangled and fall. WE laughed and had a blast.

But there was a little boy in the corner. His kite wouldn't fly.

You see. His Mom was on her cell phone.

The little sad boy with his lip quivering was trying to get the kite in the air while the Mom was giving her half attention as she exclaimed why she didn't like flying kites any more.

Her body was there. She wasn't.

Parents need to wake up
I'm tired of hearing parents complain about kids and cell phones when parents are horrible offenders too!

I see so many people so busy being somewhere else.

We're trying to be “it” and don't want to be left “out” so we forget “it.” We forget the meaning in life, I think.

There is great beauty in watching a movie with one's family. Or reading a book with your child. Or flying a kite. Or pretending to catch a fish while the minnows meander and dragonflies hum.

There is also great beauty in being able to be instantly available to my family. There was also great comfort in the direct message twitters of my extended network of friends when my grandmother passed away this past summer. There is great laughter in the prods and pokes of my friends throughout my networks.

I do not reject the new novelties we have found.

I only state the obvious.

Beware the things you try to master lest you become the servant and it becomes the master!

Technorati authorities change like the wind as does readership, blog stats, friends, links, twitters and blog comments. And staying grounded in who one is has never been more important.

My advice on finding “it”
Remember to intentionally use your time to do the things that will make your life better.

Clutter in your house, your life, your computer, and your habits will take away from your life, not add to it. Consolidate what works and throw away what doesn't.

God is everywhere… you're not. It is not possible for humans to be everywhere and be all things to all people and the pressure to be “it” whether real or imagined is a WASTE of time.

Be who you are and respect others who aren't you. My Dad always says that “even a fool is right some of the time” — listen to all sides and make up your mind for yourself.

Just don't let technology take over your life… it should add to it. Recent additions to my life like TimeBridge and Diigo are time savers and I plan to keep using them. Other sites I've tried recently don't work and will go the way of the dodo.

All this to say…
Learn, use, and tinker with technology… don't take it all so seriously.

Sometimes I literally walk away from this blog because I simply am not going to live the rest of my life worrying about my technorati ranking. I'm here to blog for the long haul about what I'm doing.

I'm here because it means something to me to be able to share and encourage others even though I'm so far from perfect.

I'm here because I have a calling not only to teach and parent and learn but a calling to blog and share with the most amazing profession of incredible people in the world… the educators.

Remember your noble calling, teachers.

And remember, you've got enough people in the world making you feel guilty about this and that without adding any more fuel to the fire. Your best is good enough… read your RSS when you can.. twitter when you can… blog when you can. And walk away from it sometimes so you can stay sane.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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svanabel March 26, 2008 - 1:47 am

Such true words spoken, Vickie! I get so caught up some days in the catching up, keeping up, I forget to enjoy the ride. I love technology and what it does for my life and for learning, but after a week unplugged, playing in the snow and snuggling more with my kids, I am still ok, my reader did not explode, my blog was just as I left it and the links from my del.icio.us account were still there for me… Thanks for the reminder!

Carl Anderson March 26, 2008 - 5:52 am

This post reminds me of three things. First, it seemed to channel a bit of a TED talk I watched recently (I think Will Richardson blogged about it last week) by a brain researcher who suffered a stroke. In that video she describes how the two hemispheres of her brain started working independently and when the right side took over she saw herself and her surroundings as one. Before I read your post I had been contemplating how similar the description of her experience was to the writings of the Dali Lama. Your “We are IT” statement holds so much truth but fights against what we are conditioned to believe and value. Technorati ratings, vanity, site hits, fame, etc. are all things we are conditioned to care about and hold in high regard when in truth our true value is in how we collectively influence the world. The blogosphere is a wonderful place where we each can have our own voice but together our PLNs are changing the world. There is perhaps no greater change agent in education today than what teacher bloggers have created together. The thrid thing that really resonates with me about his post is the overarching theme of “step away.” This is an issue I have been struggling with this whole school year. Before my current role on this planet as a technology integration specialist I was an art teacher and an artist. I identified myself first and foremost by my content of study. Actually, I was a visual artist who also taught. I do miss that me and have been struggling lately to find a way of bringing that me back more while still maintaining my role as a technology integration specialist, blogger, online tech and art teacher, husband, and father. Maybe I just need to unplug from time to time. Thank You Vickie for this post.

Marie March 26, 2008 - 5:01 am

great post. You are so right! in this age of information overload we need to take time out and away and realise the world of technology will continue long after we are gone and we won’t be able to keep up with it then. Reflection and meditation is needed to nurture and take care of the soul.


loonyhiker March 26, 2008 - 11:06 am

Great post! Since I am out of town and visiting with family, I really do miss twitter and what I was missing. I love your thoughts about that and I realize how right you are! Life will go on whether I’m there or not. (but I sure do enjoy it when I’m there!)

Louise Maine March 26, 2008 - 12:43 pm

It is so easy to think that what people think and how much you use a piece of technology is what defines you. I look at twitter comments and think I should jump on but have decided no. I know it is great, i know I can expand a network there but right now it is not the right time. I am too involved in other things to add one more layer to take away my attention to what truly matters. I have missed opportunities in my family’s life that I cannot get back and I am working on always being present. Myself and others will benefit from that. As a true worry wart – that is tough.

Vicki, you are a standout. If you have read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, you will know what I mean. Ego does not drive you, but purpose does.

I am sticking to what my blog is originally for – my education. It is part of my professional goal for this year (but will go far past this year obviously).

Ego changes why and what we do.

Steve Ransom March 26, 2008 - 1:19 pm

Thank you for speaking the words so well that have been on my heart for a long time. The temptation is there to try to validate our identities by our presence on line… using every tool out there. After all, we have to keep up, right? Your story about the child, kite and mom makes me so sad inside. I try so hard to give my kids my time – although they do see me spend a great deal of time at my laptop. But, that is my job and I make sure that they realize that. This was the topic this morning on the news – children overconnected in ways that are taking them away from other, as- or more important types of connections and activities in the physical world. They were interviewing a mom who was complaining that her kids were spending so much time in the digital and electronic world and just how hard it is to keep them grounded in the physical world, yet she had given them just about every electronic device out there. What message does that send?
But here’s my question – what do we do with kids who no longer find value or see the beauty in the forest, in the pond full of lilly pads, in the warm breeze, mud puddles, camping, dandelions, and long walks? Are some of us letting new tools dictate this for us? If so, we need to wake up and do a better job finding centeredness and balance in life.

Phil Miller March 26, 2008 - 2:10 pm

outstanding observation. Thanks for keeping me in perspective.

AKieser March 26, 2008 - 1:19 pm

Your comments have reflected exactly how I have been feeling over the past couple of weeks…trying to keep up with it all has become exhausting! It is important to realize that our personal relationships require the same amount of energy and time as the online world.

Barb March 26, 2008 - 11:09 pm

Wonderful entry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

nhill March 27, 2008 - 12:21 am

This was a message in due season for me. I was having a day of feeling guilty. I took the time to take my kids away for some fun time over the holiday weekend and my daughter to a concert yesterday. I have 101 things I am checking out, would like to get done. I was feeling guilty. You make me feel so much better. I thank God that I am me everyday, I just have to remember that I am not Superhuman and I cannot do everything. Thanks again.

AdamSmithAcademy.org March 27, 2008 - 1:21 pm

I’m new to this whole blog thing, but found this insightful. Thanks

Michelle March 28, 2008 - 3:02 am

THANK YOU VICKI! I so needed to hear this message. I sometimes feel guilty when I can’t “do it all.” Your post reminds me that I don’t need to! Once again, thank you so much. I can now walk away from some things without feeling like people will forget who I am. I am not my blog, or my twitter account, or my Classroom 2.0 presence. I am a woman trying to be the best I can be, and sometimes that means NOT participating. Like you said, it will all be here when we come back.

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