I’ve been tirelessly busy with graduate schoolwork, PhD applications, work and project planning, but I wanted to drop a few quick lines to say “Hello out there” and put to rest a few things that have been swimming in my mind lately. More to come!

Introduction to My Latest

Welcome to my professional page. I’m Stephen McDonald. I am, in no order of consequence: a writer, a photographer, an explorer, an Americanist cultural and historical scholar, a Progressive Christian and a devoted father a much beloved daughter. (Maybe the best for last!)

This page will include my thoughts, queries, musings and links to my writing. I also hope to include links to historical sites and places of significance that I visit to share them with you. Additional plans not limited to this page include educational videos and podcasts.

Please like my Facebook Page and follow my Instagram.

I studied at the University of Vermont but finished my undergraduate degree with a BA in American Studies from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Presently, I am a graduate student pursuing an MA in American Studies from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Presently, I am writing my thesis exploring tribal identity and sovereignty of northeastern Native American tribes, focusing on the Ramapough Lunaape Nation.

My research interests include: Hudson Valley and New England history, American literature, American art, American music, social history, immigration and the peopling of America, slave narratives, immigrant narratives, social inequality, environmentalism, education, American social thought, progressive theology, and religion in American life.

Additional interests include psychology, economics, health care, science and technology, homesteading, country living, farming and sustainable agriculture. I like to sail. I make candles and dabble in woodworking. And I’m pretty good cook. I learned and continue to play three instruments: the guitar, the violin, and the saxophone. And I am fascinated by genealogical research and family history.

Pennsylvania is where I was raised. New York is where I live. Connecticut is where I study. Maine is where my heart lies.

After life transforming experience and finding renewed solace in my Christian faith, I am open to motivational speaking.

Please follow my blog if you like what you read.  Please contact me with any thoughts, words, queries you may have.

Thank you.  And Enjoy!


Social Media Overload

I remember watching this powerful TED Talk by Sherry Turkle while I was taking a religion class one summer and, lately, I have been thinking of this talk again. I am wondering if I am “done” with social media.

Recently, this started with a follow I made on my Instagram account–I know! I followed a former coworker that I got along with most of the time but she could be wildly dramatic and over the top. When she sent me a follow request, because my account is private, I remembered why I blocked her on Facebook and did the same on Instagram. What changed in those few short moments was the realization that what I initiated was a superficial connection to someone who had put me off in real life, and that I had an internet presence that was disjointed from unplugged life.

Just as Turkle describes, I remember the optimism and excitement of the 1990s surrounding the nascent internet. I taught myself HTML and coded my own websites with a program called Hippie. I remember the chat rooms, which for a socially awkward teenager like myself were a lifesaver. The internet was a place to plug in, connect to share experience and wisdom, and build better lives in our unplugged worlds.

And beyond this one request, and beyond feeling connected but alone, I have felt disconnected and lonely. I felt more connected to the world on the day my daughter was born and I took one shitty picture with my shitty camera phone which I sent MMS to my real-life friends in my phonebook then I ever felt sharing a picture on Facebook. And I never lost friends because of politics. And the people I communicated with were real people with whom that I had real connections.

So my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 is to return to that 1999 way of interacting. Shunning a digital life for digital tools to enhance my real life and smaller but more connected social circles.