The multiverse theorem in action; or when world’s collide in a (Digital) room of one’s own

Anna Blanch Digital room of one's ownMost days I happily live in my wired existence, stepping between platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, (a little on Google +) and Skype as I email away seamlessly beginning and ending conversations begun in one medium in another and in face-to-face discussions. Increasingly, I’m less likely to use the term real-world (or IRL in  text speak ) to refer to offline activity because in real ways the online is as much real as any other context. Like others, I’ve taken to referring to in-person meetings and chats, when that’s necessary, as “f2f” (face-to-face) when writing about the offline context in the online context.

As social media networking platforms like facebook and google+ have become more widely used, I’ve experienced the “worlds” colliding phenomenon as never before. When I say “world’s colliding,” you know what I mean, don’t you? It’s the sense that different parts of your life are coalescing, when friends or acquaintances from work or education collide with family or those whose acquaintance you’ve recently rekindled; when those who became friends for one moment or season in your life all of a sudden sit (in the online realm) next to those who’ve know you all your life.

Sometimes something remarkable happens as you discover connections between those you know from the geographical reaches, and other times it is intensely uncomfortable. In academic terms the study of these social relationships is known as prosopography.

For the last couple of years, and perhaps still, I’ve heard criticism of social media as promoting false conceptions of the self. That people pretend to be something they’re not, and promote inflated versions of themselves. While it may not be true in every case, I think it’s very hard to be something you’re not in this ever-increasingly connected world in which we live. This is partly because it’s a simpler matter to tell the truth. It takes alot of energy to keep the lies going!

I’ve found this interconnectivity of worlds, while disconcerting at times has challenged me to be even more aware of being authentic. Am I saying something to be noticed? Or because it’s genuinely important to me? Is it about listening and asking questions and connecting with those I care about, and hearing from those in my world? Or am I being prideful? Or sensationalist?

Someone once told me that they imagined that their mother read everything they wrote and they’d want her to be proud of them. It’s not a bad rule if it’s just about keeping true to the values that you were taught. But while I’m friends with both my mother and grandmother on facebook and I would never knowingly write anything that would embarrass them, my standards for how I engage with digital media isn’t just about embarrassment – it’s about something else, about living as a Christian in the whole of my life and in all of my worlds. Which means sometimes I’m going to mess up, and say things in ways I shouldn’t. I’m learning all the time – everyday – about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to live in light of the gospel in all my contexts; online and offline.

The digital media world isn’t just a matter of socialising for me – as a writer and academic, it’s also part of my professional life.  So, each month this column is going to be about what Andrew Graystone referred to as “singularity of personality” in my contexts;  about what it means to live thoughtfully and intentionally in “A (digital) room of one’s own.” While I’m at it, I offer a hat-doff to Virginia Wolfe ; mainly because I think she would have appreciated this kind of self-reflective enterprise in her own wry way, even if she wouldn’t really be interested in either my means or my end.

Connect with me (Anna) through my website, my blog  Goannatree, on Google+,

Academia.edufacebook page, & Twitter.

Image Credit: The image that will accompany these columns is a specially commissioned piece of artwork  by papercut artist Charlotte Trimm, of By Charlies Hand.

About Anna Blanch

Australian-born writer, arts critic, and photographer, Anna Blanch, spends alot of time thinking and talking about thoughtful and biblically founded engagement with arts and culture. She has had scholarly & freelance articles published in a wide range of publications including Englewood Review of Books, Australian Folklore, and Case Magazine and she often talks about literature and theology at academic conferences. With degrees from the Australian National University and Baylor University, Anna is presently in her final year of a PhD at the Institute of Theology, Imagination and the Arts, at the University of St Andrews, Scotland where she is also a tutor. Her academic research focuses both on the work of iconic British author, E.Nesbit (author of Railway Children) and the role of literature in spiritual formation. She finds photography, enjoying her environment and its fruits, and being in community bring her joy. She can also be found at Transpositions, a collaborative project on Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, and even more often on her blog, Goannatree, where she provides resources for Christian Scholars, muses about Theology & Literature, and reflects on her expatriate life. She likes to ask people what's been inspiring them lately, because the answers inspire her and she loves hearing people's stories and she's find that this is a great way to get people talking.