Sometimes I miss the pre-internet era. We all lived in our private spheres of existence. Very few people had any idea what the world was really like. But maybe the world wasn't really like that then. Sure we have always committed wars and other atrocities against each other, but the average person didn't engage in that. Then along came the internet and things changed dramatically in a really short period of time. Too great of rapid expansion in any form creates fissures and cracks in a stable structure thus weakening it. In this case it created a type of culture shock. When the culture is the thing rapidly expanding, and it doesn't have a set precedent for that type of cultural behavior it can have a detrimental effect. The degree with which people take the internet as reality varies so greatly that everyone deals with it differently. Some people are like me and do exactly as they would in real life. Others see it as a way to present themselves in ways that aren't how they would be if you met them in line at Starbucks and started chatting while looking them in the eye. Yet others present themselves in ways that have nothing to do with who they even are. Sadly that can lead to people getting hurt through online predators. Since there is no set precedent, people fall through the cracks and fissures without a comfortable place to land.
I thank God that I hung out with my friends in high school and college and spoke to them instead of "texting." I don't really understand texting, you're holding a phone...why don't you just call the person you want to talk to? I have always loved the phone, but nowadays even that has changed. People don't sit in their homes and focus on a conversation with the person they are talking to nearly as much. We are forced to listen to the lives of complete strangers while we are shopping or sitting in the doctors office. I don't like my cell phone that much. If I am going to use it, I try to use it in my parked car where I still have a modicum of privacy. Isn't it funny how all our modern conveniences are supposed to free up our time to be able to do more and yet we have less time than ever to fully devote to being able to focus on just one thing?
I am also happy I didn't have to use the internet as a dating service. I met my husband face to face and built a relationship that way. I based my opinion of him on what I got to know instead of running to Google to find out if any embittered ex girlfriends had posted trash about him. Nearly 20 years later we still have a great marriage too, go figure. I miss doing business face to face as well. I touched on how we have to be photographers to set up shops and websites, and writers because as artists we are expected to blog. All these things bring a higher stress level to our every day lives and cut into the time we would be doing other things. People have taken licence to be really vicious sometimes because they don't have to look someone else in the face to say what is on their mind. Nor do they have to accept responsibility for their words because they can hide behind facades of anonymity.
I have met some really wonderful people over the years and I am happy for that. But I think with the onset of the net, our worlds expanded so rapidly we couldn't quite handle it. While we are able to reach out and connect with people all over the world at the push of a button, we also have learned to have distrust in those people as a first instinct. The last thing our world needed was one more reason to have distrust in each other.
A while back I set out to help a group of people who were engaging in really bad behavior. I saw that they were hurting themselves with this behavior, and tried to reason with them. Naturally they didn't trust me, they thought it was all about a means to an end to get something for myself or to simply rile them up. I don't suppose they ever stopped to consider I wouldn't have any reason to do that. They also assumed that I was too stupid to see their side of the story. That wasn't even remotely true, I did see their side...but I just felt they were handling it in the worst possible way and that far too many people, including themselves were being hurt in the process.
It's kind of funny because none of those people know me at all. Nor did they take the time to get to know me. They just leaped to the conclusion that my actions were all about me and discounted me with the quick press of a button. At the time I shook my head and wondered why I had bothered.
I know why I bothered though...it's because I still remember that world where we lived in that smaller sphere. People still had a willingness to help each other without thoughts of themselves. I liked that world and sometimes I try to bring it to the internet because that's the world I still want to live in. It rarely works though. The phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" has never been more true anywhere than on the internet.
Quite often what I see just makes me sit staring slack jawed at the screen in amazement. I remember once I made a funny, light hearted comment to someone and they took it in the worst possible way and made a six paragraph rant over what a horrible person I was on their blog. I was utterly horrified that anyone could have interpreted such an innocent comment in that way, and I left convinced they had serious issues so I never went near them again. Having abject hatred thrown our way from virtual strangers can be really hard to take. No matter how hard we try to let it roll off, unless we are made of stone it still effects us. It chips away at that foundation of faith and trust in our fellow man.
I find myself wondering lately if it's all worth it. I have never been a person who worried much about what people thought of me because I knew where my heart was. I knew that even when my words were harsh it was often in an attempt to help someone else see reason. I have made harsh posts with the motivation of helping others see what I have learned and sometimes you can't serve that up on a fluffy pink cloud to properly get your point across. But people don't read it as your wanting to help them, they just read it as you being hateful. I suspect part of the problem is that many people don't fully read what is written. They skim over it and draw a conclusion based on what the skimmed from it. I am sure some people take time to read every word. If I read a post someone made, I read every word so I can get the full effect of what they were trying to say.
After yesterday's post I once again read the words I have written many times before, and I realized how sad they sounded. I am sad, I don't want to be misjudged all the time. It's tiring to have to put disclaimers on all your words and try to explain that your motivations are good all the time just because you choose to speak freely. It doesn't matter how clearly you develop a thought, or try to explain what you are saying, you will be misunderstood. It's just a fact you cannot control. I do want to put a disclaimer in here anyway, because I don't want anyone to feel bad or think they caused me to feel this way. This isn't about the comment I receieved from my reader or any comment I have ever received, it was just a moment of self clarity.
I think I finally understood why so many people only post pretty pictures and positive thoughts. It's exhausting to just be yourself on the net. Maybe it's time to retreat into that private sphere for a while and let the rest of the world expand rapidly without me. I should just post new works and keep my words to myself. I always wore a rose colored monocle because I never saw the world through one type of lens as being completely good or bad, but lately I have discovered the meaning of feeling world weary.