Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Musings on Blogging

As a member of the DeafDC blogging community (as a repeat comment-poster), I have of late become extremely fascinated with the ease and comfort in which we interact and "talk" with one another online via the blog comment pages -- and most of us don't even know who the other person is. Many handles exist and we think of them by their blog handles, not by their real names. The few who use their full names are typically DeafDC bloggers and are representing themselves as such; the rest of us are just joining the fray. And even the rest of us may utilize not one, but two, three or four different handles -- and in those cases, the handles reference the content of the comment posted.

The other day, DeafPundit, a regular DeafDC commenter, posted the following blog on her own site: http://deafpundit.wordpress.com/2007/04/09/i-wonder/

After I posted a reply to another reply for that blog, I started thinking about what it really means. The original reply, written by MishKazena, said:
I think our blogs and vlogs will be archives and studied carefully for decades to come, more like specimen under microscope by social scientists, linguistics and ASL/Deaf Studies students. With the rapid utilitization of cochlear implants and future implementation of genetic engineering to repair the deaf genes, the Deaf Community as we know will shrink.
My own reply:

I’m not so sure that the Deaf Community will shrink. I think it will change — it already IS changing. No cultures or communities are stagnant, anyway. I think it would be a huge mistake to try to keep the Deaf Culture “as is” at this moment in time. Think about how much we’ve changed in the last 5-6 years, thanks to the advent of two-way pagers, the Sidekick(tm), Treo(tm), BlackBerry(tm), etc., high-speed internet, videophones, digital cameras with video capability, and of course…

blogging.

Blogging seems to be the new Deaf Club. And there’s no bigger “Deaf Club” than DeafDC right now.

That leads me to the following...

The Deaf community/Culture as we know it is constantly changing. We can hardly say that things have stayed the same as 100 years ago, much less 20 years ago. For many of us, we no longer regularly have to "plan in advance" our meetings, our get-togethers, our times to catch up. With a few keystrokes on a wireless device, it's now possible to meet up at a bar, a friend's house, or even a park, for some catching up time. Just last week, I imed a friend about 3 hours before the DC DPHH started to see if she was interested in getting together for a bite to eat beforehand. She was. We did.

No longer are the long-goodbyes needed; instead, the reason we take forever to leave a place is because we want to say goodbye to everyone we know there. And now it's "see you next month," or "I'll email you tomorrow" or "oh, send me an email, we can figure that out." The goodbyes themselves are relatively quick. A hug, a smile, maybe even a peck on the cheek, and away we go, knowing that we will see each other in the Online World.

Is that a good or bad thing? Do we still need the real Deaf Clubs? Do we still need a "home base" where we can get together on weekends, shoot pool, hang out and commiserate with one another? Or is a happy hour once a month, on Friday evenings, sufficient? And are the happy hours really welcoming to those in our large Deaf community who may not be comfortable because they don't drink (for various reasons -- religion, addiction, etc.)?

11 comments:

mishkazena said...

I was thinking in terms of one century. Do you think Deaf community, meaning those who are culturally Deaf, will still be as big and active one hundred years from now compared to nowadays?

Even though the Deaf clubs aren't as vibrant as they used to, the Deaf people are still active socially. The popularity of deaf sporting organizations and bowling leagues is still high. Beside DPHHs and explosive growth of Deaf cyberworld, deaf coffee shop socials, silent suppers, and Deaf mall gatherings attract more Deaf people than ever. It appears that Deaf people are more connected now than ever before.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of assumption, in that it is considered only 'Deaf' and sign users are contributing to this future 'Cultural archive', I think a few would be very surprised to find out there aren't as many cultural deaf here as they think.


Just as many of us on the fringe of cultural things, have always contributed to the image.... A lot of deaf and HoH sure... If anything it is a more accurate reflection of us all, and not, just a reflection of the dedicated and cultural ASL user alone, which is to the good, what a pity on the ground they still can't manage this.

MM

Anonymous said...

MZ,

I think you're being naive. Deaf identity has been around for centuries even dating back to documentation under Hebrew law in 3000 BCE.

Just have faith. Veditz once said as long as there are deaf people, there will always be sign language. We all know sign language, naturally, will remind us of our native identity.

DC Deafie said...

Actually, not all deaf people know sign language -- that's a big issue at play here. Many of us are oral, cuers, and/or signers. And even the signers are diverse -- some prefer signed English systems, some prefer ASL, some use PSE, and still others do SimCom...

There is no one Deaf Identity -- the identity differs for everyone in our huge community. I'd be really hesitant to just lump people together. And then what about the people who are not native deaf; those who lost hearing at a young age, as teenagers, as young adults, etc.? Is it fair to push them into the box of deaf sign language users?

Jean Boutcher said...

I would say that deaf people of varying hearing degrees get closer to one another through blogs, vlogs, and listservs than ever before. Pre-technology, only signing deaf elites were very clannish, leaving oralists out. Do I see oralists, CIers, Cuers, and signers communicate to one another electronically? The answer is YES!
What is noted is that they tolerate different communication modes. Understanding, respect, and tolerance, I would say, are attributed to technology. That is something that I did not see before the new millennium.

Anonymous said...

I can say with full confidence that yes, deaf bloggers and vloggers are being archived. Maybe not everything, but definitely, y'all are being archived...

Speaking of which... anybody got the archives for the Gally VAX notes back from the early 1990s? There was a Dea-f(-d?)Poets Society VAX conference. It was great. Would love to reread those notes!

A Deaf Pundit said...

Interesting blog entry... :) Glad I provoked some thought!

Jean - I think that is only happening because the playing field is pretty level on the internet. If you have a good grasp of English, you're welcome. I wonder if we all met in real life, would we still continue the dialogues we're having on-line? It's a question to think about.

Anonymous after Jean - Archived where? :) For instance, DeafDC has its own archives, but are scholars archiving the DeafDC blog entries to be studied and analyzed upon decades from now?

DC Deafie said...

Thanks, DeafPundit! :) And your point about having a good grasp of English is well taken. I'm fully aware that the majority (99%?) of DeafDC commenters have mad English skills. And, of course, all the bloggers do.

I'm actually very curious how many of the bloggers and commenters on DeafDC are native deaf ASL users who learned English as a second language. I know some of the bloggers/commenters learned to sign later in life, others are very PSE/Englishy signers, etc...

Hmmm....

Anonymous said...

The beauty of blogs/Vlogs is there's no confrontation physically, so you can to a degree disagree how you want. You really can, be you, and not a reflection of others in your group.

It's a kind of freedom.... In 'real life' you'd bite you're tongue, and avoid as we all know, the need to conform is very strong, blogs allow the freedom that doesn't, which says more about the way the deaf areas operate than it does about blogs.

The other issue not so much mentioned is the communication we are all using, which is still, predominantly text, does this indicate text is the greatest leveler with the deaf globally and not sign language ?

ASL Vlogs do well in America they don't travel, and so manymore deaf in the world would access each other if the text was available. It's a mammoth task !

A Deaf Pundit said...

I'm a native ASL user. :)

DC Deafie said...

DP -- cool. :) I know that friends of mine and I have chatted about whether the blogosphere (or at least DeafDC) is truly friendly and welcoming to native ASL users. I'm glad you're part of it!