I really “felt” the frustration of your piece on F-2-F relationships and digital connections. I have found getting to know other educators online before meeting in person incredibly rewarding and a little dangerous. It is a strange phenomenon that almost makes it seem like we have been standing in the same room, talking, getting to know each other, etc. and then when we finally meet something happens. The human spark of community connects all the neurons we have been using in our brains to our bodies.
It is the difference between knowing what someone thinks and experiencing someone. My friendship with you and many of our Teaching 2030 colleagues are connections that sustain me. I don’t think that connection would sustain me if we hadn’t met in person though.
I guess the risk of this would be if someone’s online presence isn’t necessarily close enough to their true humanity. Then that sudden connection and closeness built online would become an irritant because of the mismatch of experience of the body and experience of the intellect. We often say things online, on facebook etc., that we would never discuss in a living room, like politics. I think we can also go a little overboard online sometimes when in person, our body would tell us, hold back, you have to communicate experience through more than words and links. You have your whole body without the luxury of hyperlink what infuriates you.
Through my work in my dissertation I recently came across a phenomenological researcher from Canada, Max van Manen, who seems to really perceive and want to know about the experiences of teachers. I found a recent article he wrote that considered interactions writing online versus writing with pen and paper. In this article he raises questions about pedagogy in online spaces and how these questions can inform online learning. He has also written extensively about what I consider the heart of teaching, the relationship between students and teachers. If you have time, check out The Tone of Teaching to discover how deep this dude is.