The Humans are Just a Little Dead

When I was reading Yancy’s article, “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key” I happily remembered Flight of the Conchord’s music video “The Humans are Dead” 

Yancy quotes Elizabeth Daley on the idea that students now need a third kind of literacy because technology is such an enormous part of our lives now. Screen metaphors have made their way into everyday terms, “close up, flash back, frame, cut to the chase, segue.” That’s true– our language reflects our time, and I would argue, also reflects our medium. There is a certain amount of techno-jargon that has filtered into the language of people who actually use it. People tend to construct metaphors out of what is familiar to them. For instance, in the Richard Matheson story “Born of Man and Woman” the main character refers to other children he spies through the window as “little mothers and fathers” because he has no experiences of people other than his mother and father. Many people in the university setting would have enough experiences of technology for it to rub off.

To be honest, I am not sure how many of my students will be more comfortable with technology than I am. (That’s not a steep slope to climb, I might add). I do know that writing online changes tone and voice. When I write online I am automatically more relaxed in tone, but at the same time hyper-aware that I have an audience. I also tend to reference popular culture a little more than usual because I can so easily link to videos, websites, etc. It’s easier to let everyone in on the joke. It’s easier to speak in a lingo that everyone understands through hyperlinks and other techno-language phenomena. Perhaps in the distant future “flashback” and “segue” will just be “00000101010111” and “affirmative.” No, I don’t think so. The humans aren’t really dead yet.

But I do think that if we encourage our students to write in a variety of mediums, in papers, poems, blogs, discussions on Bb, etc., we will give them an opportunity to use their many voices that Royster writes about in “When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own.” Her experiences of finding places for all her voices to fit reminded me the multifunctionality of technology: it is a great place for voices. In Talking back: thinking feminist, thinking black, bell hooks writes, “our sense of self, and by definition, our voice [is] not unilateral, monologist, or static but rather multidimensional…. [it’s] a necessary aspect of self-affirmation not to feel compelled to choose one voice over another, not to claim one as more authentic, but rather to construct social realities that celebrate, acknowledge and affirm differences, variety.” I think this goal can be approached by writing confidently in all these authentic voices, and that the space, or “realities” for the voices can be constructed through journals, publication, blog space, forums, etc. There are a lot of places for our voices to live with complementary voices. And I think the ultimate goal of the classroom is to become one of those spaces– the classroom should be a place for learning and invention, and also a place to use all of one’s authentic voices and experiment with different technologies that are a part of our lives. Writing authentically in these realities can bring voices to life.

Our voices, like the bumblebee, need spaces where they can be validated by like bees. The field’s technology was a lot more suited to her voice than the auditorium. Right? Aren’t all music videos about discourse?


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