One Identity and Digital Humanities

The "To Love So Well The World" website is about branding, writing, sharing, exploring, discovering, journeying, celebrating, creating, playing, and praying.  It's a place and a space for me to explore the digital humanities of our time as well as my place, our place, in them and so much more.

That's what it's about but how did I, and now you dear reader, get here?  I'm sure we'll be exploring that very question throughout the blog itself but in short...

Most people in the United States, and probably elsewhere, live very compartmentalized lives.  We have one identity at work, one at school, one at home, one at church, one at the ballgame, one in the bedroom, one in the voting box, and many "ones" online.  I think this fractured whole must almost be like having multiple personalities or a kind of a digital schizophrenia.

In many ways I have been no different, at least not the online me.  Throughout the years I have had this blog or that blog, this website or that website, this social media platform or that one, all very structured and compartmentalized pushing a particular identity or brand.  However these endeavors had one thing in common, they often only offered a glimpse of one compartment of me and certainly not the whole of me.

Recently due in large part to an interest in #VanLife, I began to explore branding and "one identity" - who and what my brand is or better yet, who or what is my one identity.  Not what I want it to be, not what I want to project necessarily but what it is.  What is the common thread that runs throughout my life and how can I offer that in an online presence.

From David Kirkpatrick’s book, "The Facebook Effect", Mark Zuckerberg is quoted:

“You have one identity."  "The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly.”  “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

I thought that was something worth exploring and as I wrestled with my recent challenge I thought about that perceived reality more and more.

With my interest in #VanLife I started a blog that focused on that one aspect of my life, in particular the van in which I was going to begin to explore #VanLife while I did art and craft shows, visited church members, and spent time with friends around the country. The blog was titled: "Let Loose the Kraken" after the van which I affectionately named the Kraken.

Photograph by Dale Caldwell

I have a very dear friend who had been encouraging me along the way in my journey.  In fact, he is the photographer of the background picture of this blog.  It's a picture he took in the Pacific Northwest and shared with me for the purposes of allowing me to use it on this blog, for which I am very thankful.  He pushed me for more content and for me to push my brand.  I found it very hard to get behind yet another compartmentalized blog about some aspect of my life.  It just left me wanting and so the content was very slow coming.  The friend I mention happens also to be interested in this "one identity" that Mark Zuckerberg speaks of and we have discussed it off an on over the years, but I get ahead of myself.

In my researching #VanLife I subscribed to many YouTube channels on the topic, some well done, and some, not so much so, but all informative to one degree or another.  One of the YouTubers was a guy/girl team and she was going to start her own YouTube channel because she wanted to push a dietary theme that she felt didn't fit on the #VanLife channel.

It was then that I could begin to understand what I was really being challenged over.  I really didn't want to do yet another compartmentalized blog about a specific part of my life.  I wanted more, something larger, something more inclusive, something lasting.

What would I say about the Kraken after I had said all there was to say?  Perhaps veni vidi vici?  After the build-out, after the trips, after the breakdowns, after the infamous "knock on the window" all #VanLifers go through, what was there to say?

In truth my latest blog, in a series of blogs, only represented one aspect of my interest, one aspect of my life, in what would be a limited moment in time.  And so I began in earnest to try to understand my "one identity" or that unified whole that might inspire me to offer content, build a brand, and share a life.

What was it?

I spent a great deal of time thinking about it, dreaming about it, and praying about it.  I kept coming back again and again to a poem "Masts at Dawn" by Robert Penn Warren, a forever favorite of mine, which I had also included on the "Let Loose the Kraken" blog by the way.  In one line at the end of the poem he concludes:

"We must try to love so well the world that we may believe, in the end, in God."

This was it.  This was, is, and hopefully always will be a singular central focus that informs, empowers, instructs, shapes, and guides every aspect of my life.  It is my mission, my modus operandi, and in a very real sense, my brand, my identity.

A couple of years ago I had started this very blog, "To Love So Well The World" simply for myself.  I kept it small, quiet, and somewhat hidden, my secret garden, if you will, where I could share poetry with no on in particular and maybe a thing or two about my life with no one who would read it.  It was a place for me to digitally be, more than anything and like many other blogs of mine, I had done very little with it.

As a result of my epiphany, I dusted it off, reworked its theme and imported the content from "Let Loose the Kraken" which I then closed down.  That's how you and I dear reader have arrived at where we are or at least it's how I arrived at where we are.  I guess I don't really know how you got here or why.  Perhaps you don't either.  Who knows.

I hope you enjoy this offering as much as I will enjoy creating, exploring, and sharing it - I don't pretend that this space will offer all of me but I hope it will offer most of me, as I am able and as I know myself, but rest assured, it will offer the heart of my interest in this thing we call life.

As I kick along this path, I'll flesh out this topic more and more in blog posts tagged #DigitalHumanities.  Be watching for them.  There's more to say.

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