Being anonymous beings: post secrets.
I have been reading and writing a blog on the internet since they were called online diaries; my first one was so simplistic compared to this one, you could not upload images to compliment the written word nor could you link to something that inspired a particular entry. Youtube did not yet exist so there was no sharing a video – it was all dependent on words – true diary form non?
There was a particular author that wrote about her sexual relationship with an older man, it was a good diary filled with emotion, lust and often tenderness between them. One day she wrote about being confused and the inability to end the relationship because it was her father.
Of course that got me upset; I felt that since I had spent months reading this anonymous blog it meant I was supportive of the relationships nature when truly I had no idea. And when I say I got upset I mean it! My partner found me pacing back and forth and talking to the computer screen. In my head every little word I had read now had an entirely different meaning and there was that one time the entry was rather graphic and I was turned on. I am surely going to hell for this.
My ex partner M was my opposite in that we truly kept one another balanced, when I was angry he was not, when he was upset I was calm and on this particular new interweeb adventure he sat and listened as I verbally threw up all over the place; I am French so I speak with my hands and often change from one language to another.
“Pyx, why are you so upset” – the question was infuriating, but why was I so upset? Well my knee jerk reaction would say that I am against incest of course but I had to admit that I felt a bit set up by the author – why had this not been mentioned before! I felt denied information that would have allowed me to make a choice about reading it. She purposely turned me on knowing this bomb would be detonated later on.
“What are you going to do about it?” – well, pfft, what the fuck, I don’t know. The truth was I didn’t.
“Do you believe what you are reading is real?” – well yeah she wrote it. I mean it felt so sincere, vivid and intimate. Who the fuck would make shit up like that?! Do people make stuff up and then put it on the internet? What if someone finds it and finds out who she is, her dad could get in trouble and.. and…“don’t all good authors push our buttons?”
It had never occurred to me back then, when the internet was soft, shiny and new that someone would make something like that up and it hit me like a ton of brick right in the gut. I remember sitting down and lighting a smoke, thinking hard and silently to myself; this thing, this World Wide Web is going to fuck us all up. My brain, our brains, are not developed to deal with this virtual insanity!
“Are you going to keep reading it?” he asked me point blank and all I could do was admit that if something I read was affecting me so how could I? “but the news affects you like this, something a proff says gets you motivated” he was being logical when I was being emotional “but what if it is real?” I said. “you will never know” and that was it right there, I won’t ever know will I. I had to set a few limits for myself and what it was I willing to read and get involved with, the world is filled with horrible circumstances and though I believe it is good to be informed I had to save myself from this kind of reaction. I did not ever want to get caught up in it again. I can only control the virtual world from my end of the screen: I can only police myself.
Like many a good blogger when this world wide web began we became taken with the fact that we were peeking in on the private lives of others, good intentions and all we pushed aside fact and we chose to take someone at their word. We forgot what we had learned as children: that any given situation involving more than one person will be told differently from their perspective. There is what happened and then there is what each individual believes took place. It did not take my brain long to come to terms with distancing myself, emotionally, from what was being presented. This led to many a long night, searching sources, following a link and become a virtual private eye of sorts – now I didn’t believe anything I was reading!
One day about ten years ago I had been hosting a very popular sexual kink blog on a particular site that allowed all its members to host their own. My friend who was and is a kink’ologist (yeah I made that up) had a blog, I knew him in real life as a very professional man and had traveled and worked with his company several times. Anyhow he wrote an entry in his blog, a generic condolence of sorts and linked to another blog on the same site. I had no idea of whom he was speaking so I was not about to write some comment but I did follow the link to this woman’s blog: It was a suicide note.
I was so enraged at my friend that HE would link to such a thing AND have the nerve to post a condolence entry, I found it offensive that we had become so removed from the human condition that even a cry for help was now pure entertainment. I did not care if she actually died but for the sake of a few hundred hits he led me there; now it could not be unseen. I called the site admin and asked to have the entry removed; it was disgusting how everyone seemed to be suddenly taken with her: I reasoned that if she lives and wants her blog back she can call the site admin. I called my friend on the phone and explained to him why I did what I did and how I felt about it – we are still good friends – but even he agreed that perhaps he had overlooked something: that is someone’s daughter, friend, sister, and or mother.
I took a leave of absence from my kink blog. I focused instead on my political and academic writing; it is true I work best with human beings at some remove – numbers, graphs, and facts. I missed writing in my kink blog and I had put myself in a corner for three months before I went back. Once again I had to make more ‘rules’ for myself on how I was going to manage this whole online thing. I have never been good with other people’s emotions, it was not their fault, it was my fault I got so involved and instead I chose to remind my readers that there is a human being on the other end of this thing: a real person.
I will never forget my first email from a young man asking me for help. Me?! and what do I do to follow through?
Can I actually help someone virtually, miles away, of a completely different culture via this thing? Do I really want to step willingly into a pile of shit? Oh the hours I have spent on this thing and for what? All in order to make myself feel better, better than someone else; as if I needed the internet to help me realize I had things pretty fucking good. I have been called every name in the book from a Nazi, anti-Semite, whore, bitch, fat, ugly, Liberal, Communist, woman and all if it rolls of my back; I once offered a man a plane ticket to come say the things he was saying to my face. He declined. People have some pretty big balls when they are safely tucked behind a computer monitor but now someone was actually asking me for help.
Being out here as I am I take a risk of I am reading is: pure crap, pleasurable, funny and entertaining, informative and others are talented beyond belief and should be writing. I cannot control – no one can – what goes on the internet and I had to give up that illusion of power. I don’t waste time arguing a point with virtual people, I lack the interest to placate someone with a generic comment, but I read some things that I consider horrible and often want that person to know that I read the whole fucking thing but what do you say? ‘sorry you are fucking up your life like this. I am so glad I am not you. Great blog!’ ?
Oh certainly there was a time when I thought people should need a psych evaluation to prove they are capable of using this thing but then what fun would that be? I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it is in our human nature to sit back and watch someone blow up their world; as long as they don’t bring their ass to our front door. I just don’t like that part of myself and as hard as I try to stay away from people who think they are life coaches and gurus, and clearly give evidence to prove otherwise, I like knowing exactly who to stay away from; some people are just fucking crazy and it shows. It takes a particularly self-discipline to not go back and look but how do I manage me and stay human on this thing?
I responded to that email, explained that I was busy but would make time to ‘chat’ with him later on that evening. I even downloaded ICQ, remember that old thing?! And I sat myself down with coffee at the ready and ‘listened’ to him cry. I didn’t have any advice, nor was I willing to impose my views on him but I certainly felt some empathy for anyone feeling so isolated and removed for society. A week later he thanked me and said that was all he needed was someone to listen and I felt good about that: I managed my own way through this virtual world.