I have just read the “crowbar” post from Diarmuid Fogarty. I have tried so hard in the last few weeks to say what he so brilliantly expresses in that post. Hopefully I can get it said my response, which I felt needed its own post.
I love technology. I am not a Luddite or a techno-phobe. I have PCs and laptops and notebooks and mobile phones and Facebook accounts and twitter accounts and blogs and I’m a member of nings and yahoogroups……
And I was alone all weekend, yet I spent it with friends – facebook friends, twitter friends – people I have actually met and people I haven’t – and not a word was spoken nor an eye contact made, nor was there even the almost non-sound of another person in the room. I know that in the scheme of things this is a fantastic thing, an amazing thing, a thing that, to repeat what is said across the globe, brings people together like never before. I absolutely would not be without any of it, because on lonely weekends, it’s the greatest thing.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HUMAN THING? The actual talking, the actual, real, physical contact? The hand shake, the looking in the eyes, the smile, the words?
After being “alone” most of the weekend, I worked last night. I was on duty to welcome and get to know – as much as I could in three hours – my clients for this week: these amazing people who had left their homes, their families, their lives, their work and even the comfort of their language to be with me in freezing cold England, in my beautiful old Victorian house that doubles as a language school.
Why did they do that? Why did they make the effort to brave the cold and the vagaries of modern travel to arrive at my door, shivering, alienated and afraid? BECAUSE THEY WANT THE HUMAN THING.
Should I now turn on the computer? Should I now – as Diarmuid intimates – gently “squeeze the crowbar between the world and our direct mediation on it”?
And if I do, we will all turn to the flickering screen and our eyes will turn away from each other and our voices will be stilled and we will draw into ourselves and we will be alone.
And it’s just that they came all this way to be with me; to find their voices and shake each other’s hands and make eye contact and feel the presence of the others in the room and to speak about it all. And as a dogme teacher (at least I think I am) I am “anti- those things that divorce people from the human touch of conversation-driven learning” (dfogarty).
So forgive me if I leave the computer off, switch off my mobile phone and engage with my students – on the human level.