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Oh by the way…

2009 March 2
by Hlin

My name is Hong Lin and I’m a sophomore math major, as yet undeclared.  I figured I really needed get this little bit of information out there seeing as I’m going to be introduced today.  And I really do apologize for this uber-late intro.

I’ve had a sort of interesting relationship with both gender and technology in my life, and in order to explain it, I need to go into a bit of my childhood.

Ever since I could remember, there’s been a divide between me and others my age, and I’ve felt socially alienated.  That’s something that’s persisted throughout my life thus far.  As a child, I was both exceptionally tall and exceptionally clumsy.  I had a bad stutter and very fragmented speech, looked somewhat boyish and was often teased by other children.  When I was five, my parents came to the United States in pursuit of political freedom and new opportunities.  They wanted to make a steady living before bringing me here, but at the time,  I didn’t understand.  So, for awhile there, I was a pretty lonely kid.

And then I discovered the wonders of the cassette player, and my life was quickly filled with strange and catchy eighties music.  I’d bring my headphones and cassette player wherever I went.  Whenever I was taken to a new place, that became my first thing to do: find an outlet, plug the cassette player in, and listen to the crooning voice of Mao A Min in quiet rapture.

And ever since then, I’ve always seemed to live in my own little technological world.  Even after I came to the US and reunited with my parents, I’ve never seemed to connect in a social setting.  And when I found the internet at age eleven, the computer became a sanctuary of sorts.  I distanced myself from society through technological means, but ironically enough, it was also through technology that I became a more social person.  When I discovered chatrooms and RPG communities, I made friends, expressed myself, and found a rare joy in human (albeit online) interaction.  It was with these friends that I explored (and partially bridged) the cultural differences within my own family.  It was also through online resources that I discovered and came to terms with my sexuality.

So, as you can see, technology was a critical part of my personal development and “gendering”.  Whether it’s music playing in my ear to keep me company or strange and new information I’ve discovered in online communities, technology has always been a part of my life – and even a part of me.  Just as bones and organs are physical elements of my body, I feel that technology is an element of my spirit, my humanity… maybe even my perception of gender.  And I guess I’ve always wondered how, why, and to what extent this takes place in society at large.

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