Fourth Wall of the Web

In Life, Interrupted: The 100 Day Project by Suleika Jaouad, she describes her writing practice of keeping a journal during her time of illness. Now that she has healed, she is going on a road trip to meet the strangers who responded to her writing while she was ill.

In the following quote she uses the imagined fourth wall in reference to the web. Usually readers will see references to the fourth wall in theatre, film, and/or television and not about human relationships that begin using social media. This calls to mind, IRL, which is an acronym for In Real Life. 121346608_3a2e36a0bb

Now, I’m taking the time to respond to some of the people who wrote to me when I was I was sick — not online or by snail mail, but in person. I want to know more about their stories. I want to know what happens when the fourth wall of the web is broken, when the shiny screen that protects us from actual human interaction is lifted. And more than anything, I want to say thank you. I suspect there is a lot I can learn from them as I try to pick up the pieces of my own life.

See also Writing With Strangers and Becoming Attached to the Presence of Strangers


3 thoughts on “Fourth Wall of the Web

  1. This is nothing to do with flp, but actually something that I am doing. I wrote when sick and complete strangers sent me objects in the mail. I now have a project that I’m undertaking slowly about this practice of weaving lives together, and it involves meeting face to face. It’s not as planned as this, or as Kate Forristal’s beautiful But I’m quietly investigating what it is that enables strangers to care for one another as this seems to have a lot to do with Derrida’s reflections on hospitable practice.


    • You’ve got the most beautiful memoir in you about this, Kate. I just know it. I was a complete doubter about the power of this type of connectivity until I started having real connections with my online students in a way that I did not with F2F. One student, in particular, took two OL classes from me and then one F2F. She wrote in one of her reflections that she felt “closer” to me OL than in person. I’ve thought about that quite a bit over the years. A part of me thinks that our exchanges were so personal OL while in class, I was one teacher to 24 other students at the same time. It’s an interesting question of what that enabling factor is, but it’s an important point to understanding the goodness in online education and digital spaces.

      Now to try this “Press This” part of the FLP:)


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