As I look back over the semester, I am proud of myself. Back in January, I walked into a class that I had no knowledge of and frankly, had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was like I listening to another language. In the beginning, I didn’t think I would live up to the expectations I put on myself since I chose an A grade contract. There was a lot at stake. Towards the middle of February, I thought I was going to have to change my grade to a B. There was no way I could keep up with the class. But, I kept pushing through and trying my best. I was worried that my knowledge of online art and life would be lost with the other people in the class who seemed like experts at Digital Alchemy. What I did appreciate is the amount of information I learned from this class. Surveillance, GIFs origins, Meme Art, Digital Art, Algorithms, and much more. Although I did learn a lot, I was looking for more of a balance by looking at “darkness” and “lightness” on the internet. For a long time, we looked at mostly “darkness,” which is educational and something that we all should be aware of. However, it would’ve been great if half of the semester we did “darkness” and the other half, “lightness.” Although those are my opinions, I must admit that my perspective has changed when it comes to life on the internet in 2019. I’m more careful of cookies and what I put out there on the internet. For example, should my nieces and nephews be posted online? Even if I put my safety locks on the posts, is there someone still watching?
Actually, I’ll share what I really took away from this class is how much online life has taken over my real life. Growing up, I didn’t have social media. I grew up having to memorize my friends and cousins’ telephone numbers, no television allowed during the week, and a flip phone that I could call my parents and my cousin. I didn’t have a smartphone until my junior year of high school. I didn’t have any social media until Facebook in my sophomore year of high school. Of course, like the rest of the world, we fell into the life of smartphones and social media without being able to stop. We didn’t know the effects it would have on us in the future. My 14-year-old self was self-conscious as all teenagers are. But I didn’t have social media to add on to it. I talked on the phone more. I was more present mentally with my family. Post-college, I realized that something has changed. I scroll through my phone without an agenda. I pick up my phone and open it even when I don’t receive a notification. My family could be around me, but I’m scrolling on Instagram.
Over the past couple of months, I started to think, “What did I do with my life before social media?” This class made me realize that I read more, listened to music, talked on the phone, I was more creative with my writing and so many other things. I realized that life was escaping me in a way that I didn’t expect. Am I addicted to social media? Yes but we all are. We can’t go long without it. This includes YouTube and Netflix; Not just Facebook and Instagram. At 24 years old, I have decided to delete my personal social media accounts. I am head of social media for other things so I will be keeping those accounts for business use only, but something needs to be done. Little by little I have been deactivating my accounts. Just not deleting the apps. So far, I no longer have my personal Twitter account or my Snapchat. Next will be Instagram and lastly, Facebook. I want to start carrying books with me again instead of scrolling on my phone or maybe some colored pencils and a sketchbook.
Now, this isn’t to guilt trip anyone or to look down upon people who do use social media. I am sharing a personal revelation that social media is kinda sorta, but really literally, consuming my life. Having the pressures of not posting someone on social media for their birthday even though you called them already. Why someone would leave a comment on someone else’s photo and not mine. Working out and eating right but I still don’t look like girl number 3,445 that I saw on my newsfeed instead of being happy with my own results. Seeing something on social media you wish you didn’t see. Finding out information you should’ve found out from that person instead of them posting it for everyone to see. The list goes on. I receive almost 150 notifications a day. I pick up my phone nearly 80 times a day. That time and mental use could be put towards so much other stuff. Like I said, business use, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But for me, I realized I have a habit that I did not use to have, and I want to change it. I communicate with my family and friends a lot through social media, which is the beautiful part. However, I say all of that to say that this class has opened my eyes to realize that there is more than the online life.
Telling my story here for my self-assessment narrative shows that this class can truly teach you and show you things about the 2019 Internet. There is “good” and “bad” on the internet, but if anything, I loved that this class gives the logical and explainable parts to the unknown online life. I have already been sharing with my family the things I’ve learned. Jumping to my Fieldguide topic, I was not expecting this class to allow me to produce something of an article about something that I’m passionate about. I didn’t know that something like Blackfishing would be considered to be part of this course because it wasn’t anything “academic” per se. It was definitely a critical issue. But I didn’t think I was going to have the opportunity to discuss it at such great length and depth.
I believe students in the future who take this course will see that they will finally have a place to talk about an essential online issue, about anything, and it’s considered a series part of the online life. I don’t really have to explain, but the Fieldguide project was my favorite part of the class. I produced something beyond what I thought the capacity I thought I could do. Also, I loved being part of an international online space. An example will be connecting with the students from Cario. I wish we were able to have more response and reactions from them but being part of something much greater beyond our class is really special.
For future classes, I would love to see more workshop classes that will help students with their Fieldguide projects. I think by having a more step-by-step process leading up the final project, there will be better productivity from the students who seem to have a difficult time grasping it. It can be overwhelming if you are someone who is not used to using platforms like Twitter. Also, if they are not used to using social media or the computer as a whole, a project as big as the Fieldguide can become a lot. When that happens, I don’t think the students produce their best work.
- Link to Blog and Syndicated Posts: I think by looking at these two links, I see a theme for sure. I notice that I am interested in what’s beyond the self that is shown online. What’s underneath the Instagram self or the Twitter self? Who are we really without our social media platforms? I think what started that theme up is the Selfie-Unselfie Project that we looked at and became apart of. I wish we actually did more of that because I thought it was so refreshing!
- Twitter: Being part of the Twitter online world and learning about the “darkness” that’s out there was a rollercoaster ride. (In a good way!). Being able to connect with scholars and my fellow classmates made the class different than other “traditional” classes. Unfortunately, my Twitter visualization does not match the work and effort I put into my Twitter activity throughout the semester. I think by looking at my Twitter gives a good sense of my contributions. Also, the Twitter of my Digital Alchemist plays a significant contribution as well.
- Hypothes.is: Most of my contributions to Hypothesi.is was because of my Fieldguide project. However, other articles have my voice in it that I have annotated throughout the semester. By looking at this, it really shows the work that I have put into this semester. Adding my blog and Twitter activity into it, an outside person would be able to see a well-rounded (official) alchemist who succeeded this course! (Sidebar: My Digital Alchemist did an excellent job with her annotations in Hypothesi.is!)
All in all, I am so happy with the knowledge I gained from this class and I really believe it’s going to carry with me for years to come! I’m excited to use my new knowledge and connections to dive deeper into Digital Alchemy. With that being said, excluding the “checklist” of my grade contract, I believe I did a job well-done in the course despite my lack of knowledge at the beginning of the semester.
With that being said, see you later Alchemy World. (For now 😉).