VOF Week 3: (Proof in the Crash: No (Wo)man is an Island)
I’m writing this post from my favorite café in Washington. It’s warmly lit with a wall of windows that open onto a busy, bohemian street that could easily be Hemingway’s Paris. After a long day it’s a relief to be writing about blogging rather than global health issues; I comfortably unwind with an herbal tea, strumming my fingers to the bee-bop-be-dooop of live jazz, and type my entry on the significance of blogging. Just as I attempt to post—ZZZZZZZ—the computer screen goes black. I gasp, turn the computer off-and-on with no expertise beyond crossed fingers and…. nothing. All 499 words lost. Enter aggravation. It was only after I got the computer back on and running that I was able to see that Olakitike, a young VOF applicant in Nigeria, was facing similar technological challenges. Suddenly my frustration subsided and I smiled: blogging is ultimately about interconnectedness. Unfortunately for Olakitike and myself, we were connected by bad luck this evening, but we were connected nonetheless.
I resisted blogging for a long time in part because of my long love affair with traditional news media. My Great-Grandmother was a writer and my Grandfather was a reporter, so newspapers were kind of a family business. Online journalism was sacrilegious. I was writing letters to the editor and op-ed pieces before I was writing term papers. And nothing, I mean nothing, makes me happier Sunday morning than a cup of coffee and the New York Times.
But before long I realized the power of new media, the rush and luxury of being connected to the news 24-7. I was excited by the empowerment that came with not needing the approval of my local paper’s editorial board in order to have a voice. All I needed to tell my story was internet access.
Of course these benefits come with their challenges. Traditional news media will likely be a part of history in my lifetime and online publications will replace paper. What will the media be like in resource- limited settings? Will the ‘haves’ (who have internet access) be relied on to tell the story of the ‘have-nots’? As bloggers and citizen journalists replace the traditional press corps, how will we monitor the “truth”? This increase in freedom means an increase in responsibility. If we are all to take part in the process, we all must be truth-tellers and seekers.
I think the old adage is true, “no (wo)man is an island.” One of the simple truths in life is that humans are connected to one another; we are destined to participate in this complicated social web where we thrive off interaction and the beauty of shared human experiences. Blogging is an excellent opportunity to convey those experiences in a venue that immediately connects you to rest of the world (it is the world wide web, after all). It is an opportunity I’m grateful for, even if it takes simultaneous computer crashes in DC and Nigeria to be reminded why.