Think About This: What is one of your passions?

Now: What would you do if that passion was taken away from you?

I’m passionate about archiving and sharing resources for education. For the last five years, I’ve been tweeting examples from learning spaces and real life experiences, and hashtagging them with curriculum objectives. With help from educators around the globe, I wanted to build #Hashtag180: The Dewey Decimal System of the twenty-first century.

And Then: It all disappeared. One of those unforeseen technology glitches, glitched.

Beginning with a moderated-twitter chat gone wrong, my audience was gone.

Problems To Solve: Although I could still search and see my entire twitter archive, no other tweeps could see my hashtagged tweets in their hashtag searches or Tweetdeck columns. Twitter chats, hashtagged curriculum resources, and my personal #HamstraHighlights and #Hashtag180 archives were invisible to the #Twitterverse. Forever. At that time, they might as well have been nonexistent.

No matter what I tried, there was no fixing this. This problem was so seemingly rare, that twitter’s own Help Center featured nothing about my account’s limited hashtag reach. There were no options to address a new problem of an experienced tweeter. Most frustrating of all–There were no humans for me to contact with whom to have a simple conversation.

I was devastated. It was like the air was taken out of my sails. My racecar lost its wheels. My airplane lost its wings. And my heart lost its passion. My body went into subconscious overdrive, reacting to severe shock and searingly-sharp sadness. With my @KyleHamstra identity not fully-functional, my self-worth and career activities were now in question. Or were they?

Soul-Searching: After catching my breath, I had to dig deep down to answer some convicting questions from the heart, starting with: What is going on? What is happening? And:

  • WHAT is important?
  • Is @KyleHamstra really who I am?
  • Does my online identity define me?
  • Does my audience define me?
  • When was the last time (since joining in 2013) that I went one whole day, or even just a few consecutive hours, without being on multiple social media?
  • Do I need an audience that can hear ME for me to continue learning?
  • Without a hashtag audience: Does my purpose or passion change?
  • Does limiting my audience limit my learning potential? 
  • If no one ever noticed, recognized, or interacted with me, would I continue doing what I’m doing?
  • Is it all about ME?

Come With Solutions:

“Our goal shouldn’t be to #becomepopular.  It should be to #becomebetter. Blogging and sharing in social spaces can help us to do that whether anyone is listening or not.”

  • And–Seriously? There are so many places in the world where people don’t have food, clothing, and shelter to meet the human physiological needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy–And I’m worried about my twitter account? Oh. My.
  • There are several schools serving specific student needs to the extent that twitter is not even on their radar. The barometer of excellence in education should be the continual re-prioritization of student needs. Our focus must be student-centered.
  • It’s not about me, but at the same time, I want to make sure I’m a professional learning network member that GIVES–And doesn’t just TAKE.
  • When technology failed, I craved human interaction so much more than when technology was working. There’s still no interaction more valuable than the human-to-human connection, and face-to-face all the more.
  • Upon reaching out to some close friends and edtech experts for help, I was overjoyed by the response. Friends were genuine in replying, researching, and offering help and encouragement. That meant a lot to me.
  • When I thought my five-year archive was lost, I realized all the more how much I appreciate people–Especially those who help me #becomebetter every day:

“#YouMatter! Even if the technology fails, our social media don’t work, or our digital connections disappear–You are more than hashtags. You can’t hashtag a relationship.”

  • So… DOES audience really matter? Upon reflection:

Relationships matter. Learning matters.

Relationships + Learning ≠ Audience.

Audience can be fake, superficial, impersonal, insincere, inaccessible, and aloof.

Genuine Relationships + Authentic Learning = Personal Growth Opportunity.

I must stay the course–Even if no one else is watching. Or caring.

Blogger’s Note: This reflection was composed in a series of ongoing #AudienceMatters conversations:

October 5, 2017–Kyle Hamstra writes: #AudienceMatters

December 24, 2017–Bill Ferriter writes: Audience Doesn’t Matter

January 6, 2018–Bill Ferriter writes: More on the Role of Audiences in Social Spaces

January 14, 2018–Kyle Hamstra writes: #AudienceMatters Part II: Viewers, Followers, Friends