I have been trying different ways to respond to Viv’s post. I wrote a post on my other blog, I ditched the post. I started using Hypothesis and commenting on her blog, I deleted my annotations. I thought of calling her, and then realised this would mean my response would be private when her questions had been public.
The presence of absence. How do we get to choose to leave online life and leave behind a clean screen if not a clean slate? Jenny Mackness has been writing about absence as an essential element of presence from many interesting perspectives – art and metaphor, for example. I am also interested in silence as part of dialogue, disconnection as part of connection. It is so easy to forget the background in favour of the foreground of the moment.
“As we bring to the foreground new structures, we focus on them to understand them or destroy them…as we assimilate the new structure without sight of the whole but just those aspects that attract or repel us it becomes ‘normal’. What was figure becomes the ground, the way things are around here. New figures come to the fore including the seeing of the old as obsolete and to be shedded. What can our actions be in that interface of figure and ground almost instant and certainly not stable shapeshifting?” McLuhan
This post seeks to bring to the foreground resonances I found when reading Jenny’s posts.
I have been interested in online conversational dynamics for a long time now. I am interested in understanding what are the patterns that can create so many misunderstandings and how we navigate the unique nature of this space where the public and the private do not map to physical spaces. I often joke that if I diss you in the pub to a friend nobody but my friend needs to know. Our lives online are much more transparent than that and this context collapse can be both a gift and a curse.
The video above was produced for an altogether a lighter purpose – but I include it here because it makes the point, all be it a little more dramatically than I might want.
I think plausible deniability can help us talk about what happens when our conversational dynamics do not work well. This post explores my understanding so far and whilst it can be used as descriptive of something, it cannot infer intent in any one individual. In a sense this is the curse of text mediated dialogue even when skilled.
Plausible deniability refers to circumstances where a denial of responsibilty or knowledge of wrongdoing can not be proved as true or untrue due to a lack of evidence proving the allegation. US Legal definitions
The last incident left me ready to start pressing that button 24 hours a day.
I wrote a pointy finger blog post. It did not help me feel better. I decided it was time to go. I had visited the internet, and it just had not lived up to its expectations.
The cartoon that opens this post is populated with statements that have been directed at me during the last 2 years. I have followed the usual advice ‘don’t feed the troll’ and have remained silent…except when I haven’t. When I haven’t I have tried to be smart. This has not made me feel better. I had had enough and I saw no solution but to leave.
I have written before about the idea that my troll is your friend and vice versa. What I have not included in those reflections is the temporal dimension, people shift roles on a dime. All of the comments on the cartoon come from a supposedly supportive community that values learners who create own path – so difference of opinion should be welcomed. Yes, I thought that too.
I have kept reading. I was hopeful I could find a way through to action that did not entail finding a how-to commit internet suicide guide. May be the courageous decision is to step out altogether but if my reading of critical internet studies authors is correct, this is not what they are suggesting. Still, may be my need for drama would have been met had I filmed my online death using my digital storytelling skills.