This post has nothing to do with quilting, well, maybe a little.
Sometimes my brain is full and I need to empty it and writing is more fun than washing the floor and cleaning up the dog hair so I can baste a quilt.
I had a long conversation about things that happen on the internet with my son. He and I have been having similar experiences and it was interesting to hear his perspective. Both of us have had many positive encounters and received opportunities through our online presence. I have connected online and in person with some wonderful people and I'm proud to say many of them are now my friends. As are most things, it is a blessing and it can be tough sometimes too.
Part of having a blog, a flickr account, being on Linkedin, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest etc is having a public face. What you put out on the internet under your name becomes what people know about you. It's instant. You can leave it, delete it, take it back, apologize for it, but it's out there nonetheless. Because he is a technology native, essentially growing up online, he's more skilled at navigating social media than I am and seems to understand the ins and outs of an online presence.
I am a technology immigrant. I didn't used to consciously filter myself. If I thought it, I said it, though I have always had an appropriateness filter that was ground into me by my parents. Impulsivity is an attribute that doesn't really work in the world of social media. Because the internet strips away your tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions, a filter can be important and how you say what you think, no matter your intention, can be misinterpreted. It's interesting to me how innocent posts and comments can become controversial. Words are powerful tools.
I'm a lady who makes quilts, has a dog, a family and likes potato chips, but is that really me? Yes and no. It's impossible, no matter how well you write, how honest you are, or how real you try to be, the internet cannot project a real person or a real life. In a way internet camouflage is a good thing...you don't see my dust dinosaurs, my bad hair days, my runny nose, the unmade bed, or the dinner disaster that resulted in a call to Grubhub. A slight move of my camera, or a good cropping makes my life seem much different than it really is. It's bad too because those of you who know me only through the blog, know only a glimpse of what brings me joy, what frustrates me, what makes me sad, what I do well and what I suck at.
And then there is what my son calls, Internet Entitlement, or the tendency of some folks to think that they deserve things just because you're there and accessible to them. Jon told me about a mom who wrote him multiple times asking him to rewrite his Adele remix without vocals so that her daughter could use it to sing to at a talent show. I believe she's probably a very nice person who doesn't understand the amount of work that a task like that would require. She also didn't know that at the time he was going to school with an insanely heavy load of classes, involved in extra stuff, playing gigs and living a real life. Even after a polite response, she asked again and pressed him to take on this job for her.
I have been fortunate, the vast majority of my readers have been nothing but polite and respectful here, but everyone who puts themselves out on the internet has to deal with internet entitlement at one time or another. There's a difference between politely asking a question or even asking for something to be done, given or sent, and then there is demanding and getting angry when someone doesn't respond, respond fast enough or provide what is requested. There are jobs to do, illnesses, deaths in families, problems with friends, caring for parents, a dog with the runs pooping every hour. There are sleepless nights, worries, dinners that need to be made, dishes to be washed, gigantic piles of laundry, bills to pay, children to care for, bathrooms to clean and time that should be spent with the ones we love as opposed to in front of the computer.
Is it the anonymity that the internet provides that encourages us to say whatever or ask whatever? If I look a person in the eye would I be able to do the same? Maybe yes, maybe no. My sons remind me that the internet only encourages what is human nature. I think that's probably true.
It gives me more empathy for people who are constantly in the limelight or politicians who have everything recorded, documented, and investigated. I can't imagine the pressure of having to live a perfect life, be perfectly consistent in your opinions, look perfect all the time, always do what you say you're going to do, and only make good decisions. It also makes me admire people who have the guts to try, to stand up and say what they think, and to face the music.
The other day I got a comment that upset me and shared it with my wise friend Tricia. She reminded me..."anonymous" doesn't know me, my values, my life, or who I am. This person said what she/he said without regard to me. The comment reflected on him/her, not on me.
I love my blog and blogging because it gives me an opportunity to write, share and in my own way teach. I am willing to take the good with the bad and I will always try to assume good intent on the part of my readers. I know my Auntie Arlene and my dad will always be reading, so how could I stop?
I won't disallow anonymous comments. I will delete those comments that I don't want shared because this blog is not a democracy. I welcome disagreement, but as the sidebar says, "It's OK to not like things." It's not ok to be a dick about it....at least not on my blog.