One of the themes that came out of last week’s online course discussion about Web 2.0 was a sense that if you had an active online life, you didn’t have such an active offline life. Some students indicated that they didn’t spend much time online as they did other things and had other hobbies. They are the kinds of comments that I am already familiar with from others who seem to feel like there is a stark dividing line between the online and offline worlds and also seem to feel a little sorry sometimes for those of us who are online a lot.
I find that to be an artificial division, probably because I am online a lot and I don’t like the idea of being judged for that choice. I assure folks that I also have quite an active offline life that includes singing in a choir and playing in a recorder ensemble, making crafts, cooking, exercising, and reading lots and lots of analog books. And, in almost all cases, the online world informs those offline hobbies. Just last night, I looked on the web for a recording of a Medieval French song that I will be singing with the group to help me with both my pronunciation and rhythm. I belong to a Ning for recorder players that includes members from all over the world. The pattern for the baby sweater I’m crocheting came from the Web and I’ll be sending it to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation whose real life need was advertised on the Web. The digital books I listen to when I exercise come from a variety of sources online and are often chosen based on the recommendations of other readers. I share and discuss my digital and analog reading with both a face to face book group and several at LibraryThing. And Monday evening last I met with a group of educators in Second Life–at the Jamestown Fort meeting house on VSTE Island–to hear from author Elisa Carbone about her real life writing.
My conclusion: My offline life would simply not be as rich without my online life. They complement each other and are inextricably woven together into one life. Perhaps I should feel sorry for those who haven’t found that connection. Or perhaps we can recognize that we all have different ways of living, both online and off, and just leave it at that.