It wasn’t too long ago, maybe a couple of months, that the only way I could get an update on what’s been going on in my sister’s life was by sending her a text or giving her a call. Now, I get updates from her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog. It only dawned on me that she’s only now on social media when I read a post she wrote about autoethnography.
An autoethnography, as I understand it, is a form of qualitative research that has the researcher use a self-reflective and self-analytical autobiography when studying a particular social, cultural, or political phenomenon. I’m not sure that this is the correct definition of an autoethnography, but it’s not really important for right now.
What the idea of an autoethnography got me thinking about was how much information is published online these days. This is not a new revelation.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to work out ways that I can come to some sort of understanding and, ultimately, acceptance, of who I am and what that means for the life that I want to live. Thing is, I’m not sure that I want any o’ yas to be privy to that kind o’ information ’bout me. But, you might already be. You’ve probably got the answers that I’m looking for, too, but I ain’t askin’.
I started recording videos of myself talking to myself. These videos are poorly shot, and just taking up space on my computer. I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with them or if it’s worth continuing to make more.
Here’s an example:
What I did learn from watching the videos back is that I still do this weird smiling thing with my face. It’s as if I’m trying to reach the corners of my mouth to my ears. It looks really awkward and is uncomfortable to watch. It’s not very flattering at all. Have y’all noticed this?
I also bought a pack of coloured felt-tipped pens, which came with a pencil case. I haven’t had a pencil case since I was a pre-teen. The pencil case doesn’t even house any pencils. I thought that having a variety of colours will help me organize my thoughts on paper.
I’ve started mind mapping. Sure, I make mind maps with students, but never for myself. All it is is a bunch of ideas written down on paper, but without paragraphs. It’s like “unstructured” writing, in an attempt to just get your ideas down.
Of course, I’m still journaling and free writing.
In order to keep all of my ideas together, I’m repurposing a leather binder I used to use when I was working on Letters’ Lounge.
What I haven’t done, but probably should do, is look back at what I’ve already written. I think that part of an autoethnography includes looking at your already-recorded past. That is, you look through home movies, journals/diaries, social media, pictures, etc., for information about your past and how it has had an influence on a particular topic of interest.
I’m not going to get a Ph.D. out of this, but I think that it’s a project worth pursuing. At the very least, it’s been keeping a bit entertained.
Right, what does this have to do with how much information we post on social media? This: are we creating some sort of elaborate, democratic, curated historical record? But, it’s not even historical, really, because it’s happening in real-time. What is the purpose of having a memory if we keep publishing everything? Where are people keeping their private thoughts? Why has my sister been able to garner a greater social media following in two months than I have in two years?