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  • Paola Napolitano

The dilemma of reliable information

Until 7 months ago, the term ‘social distancing’ was not present in our every day vocabulary. It was coined in response to a health emergency that not only did it require from people to temporary isolate themselves and keep physical distance from each others, but also to refrain from touching their, so far, shared objects and spaces. Since this change has inundated our attachments and blurred our certainties, we have witnessed to an explosion of online courses, classes, webinars, zoom meetings, coming to our lives as first aid kits, to entertain us and let us feel less alone, more connected to the rest of the World, perhaps.

We have started to see our reality through the lenses of a faulty telescope; the advantageous luxury of time has given us the opportunity to see others. Some of us may have started emphasizing with the sufferings of people experiencing disease and death, acknowledging global warming as a fact through occurring natural calamities, like the fires in Australia first and later in California, finally discovering discrimination episodes and closely following the Black Lives Matter protests, or even offering our teaching skills to keep our well-known community tight to us. We have developed surrogate families and friends, meeting our emotional needs. Connectivism has played a valuable role and it seems to have been intensified within this context of social identity disintegration.

I considered this pandemic as a means to bring several controversies to the surface and help people from across all latitudes to claim for their human rights. I genuinely thought social media were facilitating this process. After watching the appalling documentary Social Dilemma on Netflix, I had to take some time to digest what the speakers presented as a perverse mechanism underpinning the business model of social networks.

The change in perception the documentary caused to me, was like receiving a strict slap on my face imbued with compassion and guidance. It made me think of the bubble of empty approvals I have been unconsciously maneuvered to create around me, in the middle of profoundly questioning what my role in relation to external structures was. Among the void of missing answers and general confusion, the immediate gain resulting from connecting to virtual ideals and receiving addictive comforting responses has slowly ranked first, in the fragile grading scale of my identity survival. Without not even realizing, my animalistic reaction ended up supporting the piloted economy of ‘user-content creator’. This generalized micro-macro distortion of learning and building knowledge driven by the omnipotence of economic forces, has silently reverted the ideal 70-20-10 model*.

It has, indeed, gradually shaded my ancestral need of experiential learning.

I find myself at a crossroad; facing the direction of learning through personal experience or gulping down pills of virtual information. My dilemma of connecting to the world reality imposed through the carefully adopted filters of mega corporates’ agendas, while being pulled into the whirlwind of emotion-based opinions, on one side, or crafting the pillar of my knowledge drawing upon grounded sources, on the other, leaves me with no straight answers.


*model of learning and development, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, 1980, https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/content-development/the-702010-model-for-learning-and-development/*.

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