What does it mean to be in community? And how does it change when navigating the digital world? These questions were in part answered during North Island College’s course called Digital Elevation Expertise Program (DEEP). Like a pigeon (… or is it an owl…) suddenly arriving at your door, this opportunity fell into my lap at just the right time. As a new small business owner doing it solo-style, the digital realm has often felt, and continues to feel, scarier than the wilderness. In fact, nature connection comes much easier to me than social media connection. The mere interference of a screen, the zoning in to a lit-up box often leaves me feeling more disconnected; the absence of the tangible and the lack of real-time interfacing perpetuating an emptiness, of sorts. That said, as I type on my laptop and respond to the multiple pingings emanating from my devices, I fully acknowledge the value of the digital world. My struggle is the extent to which it has taken over daily lives. Regardless, as an entrepreneur (and human being), it is important that I understand how to intelligently navigate the online realm in order to promote my offerings and maintain some semblance of current cultural trend savviness. It is about keeping an open mind, welcoming the opportunity to learn, and establishing healthy boundaries.
If I frame digital literacy through a more familiar lens, that of being on a multi-day backpacking trip in a remote mountain range, the only way I will get anywhere is under my own steam. Step one, acknowledge fear. Step two, put fear into perspective. Step 3, surround myself with trusted people who know more than I do and glean, or in my case, take a course. Step one and two, check. Now for step 3…
The first day of the course was surprisingly emotional. With ten participants, it felt much like an intimate sharing circle. Apparently, this fear of the digital realm, was not unique to yours truly. Unlike other classroom experiences, I was grateful for the support and kindness provided by both my instructor and fellow students. Upon the course’s completion, I feel like I have a more in-depth understanding of the avenues in which I can increase my digital presence authentically. It did feel overwhelming at first but like anything, the key was to take it one step at a time. These are a couple of the things that stood out for me:
• Ensure your website is user friendly, nice to look at, and not overly verbose.
• Be consistent with social media presence.
• Canva is a great tool for making anything you want to put on the internet beautiful.
Like I said earlier, it is normal to have fears about the unknown. Traveling up mountain passes or filming TikTok videos can be intimidating but fortunately friends, there are strategies, resources, and people to help you along the way. So, I thank my incredible DEEP instructor Serena Neumerschitsky, North Island College, and the pigeon (who informed me of this program) for the opportunity to expand my pixelated wings and, for better or worse, open my mind to the digital world of possibilities.