Now, I am not a complete nube. I have had a Facebook page earlier. I hated it. As a dyslexic educator and PhD student who runs specialized programs I sometimes have to ask myself how it is that I worked myself into a career where I am constantly reading and writing. In fact, part of my goal with this blog is to explain how I got myself into this situation. That said, after a long day of reading and writing, a skill I have exactly been bred to do, the idea of going on the web to do more reading and writing about things unrelated to my research, seemed dumb and a deadly distraction for an ADDer like myself. However, I did it and very soon became overwhelmed and stopped using it. I also have this issue of getting heavily involved in people's problems. For this reason I found it much more productive and psychologically healthy for myself to stay away from people on Facebook, if I could help it.
So when I started to pursue my PhD I went through a stage where I tried to purge all distractions from my life so I could focus on the task at hand. I asked Facebook if they would please take down my Facebook page, because I haven't been on in years. They of course happily obliged and told me that they would take it down, but they actually never did. I lost access to the page, but I know my page continues to be accessible because my wife is able to access it as a friend. The irony is now I have no control over what is going on on that page, and since I had all my settings set on private, I have no way of personally accessing the page.
It is funny, I was one of the first people I knew who really started using a computer for word processing. I had an Apple 2e. It masked my dysgraphic handwriting and corrected my spelling, making my work generally indistinguishable from others who were not LD. For several years my use of a computer was a great equalizer. Now that everyone is using a computer I am experiencing the return of the intense pressures that all LD individuals must live with. It takes me a very long time to produce written language compared to others. People who do not have my particular style of learning are often surprised or annoyed with how long it takes me to write. mY saving grace is that I am generally able to produce quality over quantity.
I know I am putting in more hours writing reports and lesson plans than other teachers. Now that I am writing research papers, basically if I am not teaching, or maybe skating, I am writing. Interestingly, I have gotten to a point where I don’t mind that much. It is work, it is the work I need to do to do what I love and effect the change I want to produce, but the idea that after a long day I am going to read, what feels like, an endless list of random and distracting musings is not for me. I am not sure how many other LD people feel like this about social media, but my guess would be more than a few. For this reason I am really worried about developing an online presence because of its potential to become more that I can possibly manage. Just writing this brief entry took me much longer than I was expecting.
Distraction, I believe, is the biggest hazard our modern world presents to the process of human development. Development requires a certain level of challenge and a desire to pursue a goal that will lead to an improvement in an area of behavior. Development requires repetition and practice. Distraction keeps that process of repetition and practice from happening, unless you are aware of it you have no defense against it.
Of all the potential benefits of metacognition, this is possibly one of the biggest. Metacognition enables your ability to identify and respond to the distractions that keeps you from developing the skills and reaching the goals you strive for. However, this is not a simple task, metacognition is a skill, that just as any other needs to be developed. That means practice, because it has been shown that metacognition, is more like reading or writing than speech. Unless it is developed it won’t happen on its own.
Humans do not, generally question themselves in a metacognitive way. It is in fact more common to fall victim to what is called the fundamental attribution error. That is to avoid self questioning and focus our thinking on reasons outside of ourselves and outside of our control. Essentially, these are simply excuses to remain doing what we are doing. Luckily the human capacity for learning and development is so powerful that even the smallest incremental steps can pay off, but you you have to take the time to take them.
For me the irony is that to achieve my goal I have to wade back into waters that I know are going to be hard for me to swim.