International love! etc.
“What is it you two are up to?” Nicola asks. Lindsey and I are in Gossip, a small restaurant in Sneem, a rural town on the Ring of Kerry. Nicola manages the Sneem Hotel, where we’re staying for a week, and we had been there two years earlier on another study abroad trip. So we know Nicola, but we don’t know her well.
“Right now?” Lindsey and I are not sure what Nicola is getting at. We’ve brought our laptops to Gossip, but “grading student blogs” doesn’t seem like the activity Nicola is referring to.
“Online. That lively stuff I see on Facebook.” Nicola is smiling, prompting us to understand.
And we do. “WinkyFace,” Lindsey says. Nicola nods.
I launch into my explanation. “We’re learning how to use social media to build an audience because we think that’s an important skill for us to be teaching our students.”
Lindsey adds: “WinkyFace is a fun way to do it. That way we’re excited about our work and don’t avoid it.”
Nicola nods. She clearly understands and appreciates our work. She says, “So you’re just mucking about, then?”
“Yeah, pretty much.” Lindsey and I laugh and nod at each other.
I have found at least 3 take-aways from that conversation. (“Take Away” in Ireland is equivalent to “Take Out” in the U.S., but I’m using it here to mean “things I’ve learned.” In case you’re confused at all. I did get food that day, but I ate right in the restaurant.)
1. International love!
I thought about Nicola watching us in Ireland. Later in the trip, I saw my high school friend Jen who now lives outside Galway, and she also watches WinkyFace. I have an academic friend Susan who lives in Australia, and I imagine she’s viewed at least a couple WinkyFace videos. WinkyFace is an international YouTube channel. How cool!
2. Mucking about
Lindsey and I are indeed mucking about. We are both planners, and we both tend to be organized, and we both get a lot done in a day. All of those traits are applied to WinkyFace. However, at the same time, we are exploring and goofing around and having a good time. I don’t think Nicola was minimizing our WinkyFace work, though she may have been teasing a bit. I do think she recognized the fun. Which is a very good thing! No one wants to watch us on YouTube if it looks like a horrible chore for us.
Sometimes in my everyday life I don’t think about WinkyFace and the way many people I run into have seen me dressed as Dracula or sobbing over an article that was rejected. In real life, I act like a relatively normal person. I chat with cashiers, coaches, teachers, other parents. I blend with the crowd in the way I dress and behave. Sure, I can be silly, but it’s only a small part of my real-life persona.
And then someone from everyday life (like Nicola) asks about WinkyFace, and suddenly I wonder how many other people have seen me acting like a complete fool online. Part of me hopes it’s a lot of these people I run into because Lindsey and I are definitely trying to build our WinkyFace audience. But another part of me dreads the thought of being viewed by people I know in real life. I don’t want everyone to know what a weirdo I am!
Then again, Nicola seemed okay with having a couple American goofballs around. So I guess I’ll just have to trust that others will be okay with it as well.