I recently started an e-course for creative businesses. I had high hopes; I’d done other e-courses with the same tutor and got a lot out of them. I made good solid virtual friends that led to us being friends in real life. My creativity blossomed, it worked well for me. The courses had regular emails, regular online events and supportive, lively Facebook groups that went with them.
The last course didn’t work for me because there was no free speech on the Facebook group. Discussion was not encouraged. Comments were allowed on certain subjects at certain times only, comments were moderated, deleted without warning. Every time I posted I felt the tippy toe stress of an abusive relationship – ‘will I annoy them’ going through my head, ‘what will they do?’. What they did do is remove me from the Facebook group, which actually saves me shit loads of stress checking it all the time trying to find out if I had missed something. So that’s good.
I know that some people are able to create great works of art in prison environments. I’m not one of them. I cannot create anything in a moderated world, I can’t be myself if I’m censored. Having been mostly self employed since the age of 18 I’ve managed to build up a lifestyle around my inability to be someone else. Or even pretend to be someone else, really, what you see is what you get.
So what have I learned? The dreadful reminder that being a presence on the internet can go to some peoples heads, and hopefully it will never go to mine. Hopefully someone will tell me if it looks like it’s going to.
I’ve been reminded that full control of a situation is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes letting other people in gives you a sense of reality that you might miss being in the middle of it. As a control freak myself (you have to be when you are a single parent) that is a difficult one for me but a good lesson to learn and remember, every time.
I’ve been reminded that even if you really know your stuff, a certain amount of humility can prevent meglomania.
I have run www.lactivist.co.uk and the other websites in the lactivist empire for the last decade, which included many interviews, (the most exciting one being when the outside broadcast van came to my house because I had no childcare and they really wanted me to speak about breastfeeding on the World Service.) I’ve been complemented by 3 professional business owners, on 3 separate occasions because they were impressed that none of it went to my head. I’m not a prima donna blogger. If I ever become one, someone take me out the back and shoot me, you have my permission.
I’ve learned that in a learning environment with a group, be it on the internet or elsewhere, it’s really important for the members of the class to be able to form as a group, so they feel safe to share and so they are interested in the other people doing the course. This can only work if there can be discussion and comment. I’ve learned that if I do a course it helps me to have clear tasks and deadlines. These 2 nuggets of info will help me be a better course tutor myself.
I’m still on the course, well maybe not after this post but I’d rather lose the (unrefundable) £95 I paid than my integrity. I’m happy to think of that £95 as payment for the excellent value I got from the previous courses. I have no hard feelings, it just didn’t work for me and I learned a lot from what didn’t work.
I am true to myself and I remain an honest warrior.
Metta is more powerful than weapons.