Monday, November 17, 2008

Keeping it Light Online

I have a vice . . . Okay we all do but I feel mine is silly and due to a lack of discipline. It is getting too emotionally invested in online conversations (message boards and blogs). The conversations sometimes get a little too real in my mind. I think about the conversation constantly wondering did I make my point. I get offended when folks say offensive things. And I forget that these "online people" don't know me and I don't know them. I forget that "online people" say and do a lot of things that may not necessarily be true. You can create a whole online personality if you so choose, say you are who you are not, make up a whole history for yourself, offer advice and tips based on stuff you made up or things you found on the internet and not really things you've experienced and gone through. Why then do I find myself from time to time emotionally invested in trying to bring my point across to "online people". It's silly. I feel silly. I know it's partially because most of my days are spent talking to a three year old and a 10 month old--that I crave the adult interaction and intellectual stimulation. The other reason is because clicking around reading threads/blogs is one of the few activities that I can do while nursing or holding a child (I now can type pretty darn fast with one hand). Like many things in my life, though, I have to remind myself that in due time, in due time, I'll get that aspect of my life back. Online "intellectual exercises" without the benefit of really knowing the participants, seeing their facial expressions and body language leaves much to be desired.

I was involved in a conversation for almost four days that I have had to mentally and spiritually purge from. It took an ugly turn (where I felt that I was essentially called "the enemy" in a "spiritual battle") for basically presenting an unpopular viewpoint. So I unsubscribed this morning, deleted all the e-mails, every physical trace of the conversation. And this post is my final effort to purge and recommit to the discipline of keeping it light online. If a post starts out with, "I know this will ruffle feathers", stay far, far away especially as soon as you realize that anything other than agreeing with the main point is not truly what is being sought for; when the poster is basically looking for folks to sign on. I realize that looking for support only is indeed a valid reason to blog/post.

Online is to enjoy. To learn. To connect. Not to battle or feel attacked or be defensive or to feel judged.

For me, blogging and participating in online forums is supposed to be fun and enlightening. Supportive at times. Light. I know there's work to be done in real life and sometimes engaging in "deep" conversation online is a way to avoid real work. I know that my real life is serious enough where my online life really shouldn't be.

Every time this recent "online incident" comes to my mind, I recognize it and purge it with one huge breath out. I'm getting rid of this vice today.


DeStouet said...

I participated in that conversation but I've long stopped taking other people personal.

They know something I don't. I know something they don't. In the Universe, it is all the same.

Blogs are becoming one way to gain a whole lot of support and become the expert. A place where you do not have to do your own dirty work, but you now have about 10 others to co-sign.

Even with all of that, I still take what I can because it's difficult to get it any other way.

Chi-Chi said...

A long time ago I read a book called The Four Agreements and the one agreement that resonated the most was "never take anything personally". I, for one, needed the reminder!

"They know something I don't. I know something they don't. In the Universe, it is all the same. " Such truth in those words!!

Btw, thanks for reading my blog (and taking the time to comment)!!! said...

Hey there Chi-Chi,

I speak a little bit about emotional discipline at my blog but I should probably start more conversations about it since it's a valuable topic.

I do not try to avoid difficult conversations online or in person but I do try to ask myself what it is that I feel can be gained from hearing the perspectives of others. Sometimes, it's fine to just read along and not even feel a need to comment at all.

No one online KNOWS me except the church members who read my blog and they see me every day. Other than THOSE people, no one online knows me personally and so the comments that they make are based on words on a screen really. It's important to keep that in perspective...these peeps do not know you! They only know the experiences you have chosen to share.

There are so many false fronts in cyber land...the way you will know is whether that person KNOWS the issues in a way that ONLY a person who has LIVED IT can know.

I don't want blogging to be a source of entertainment for ME...soooo many black folks seem to constantly want to be entertained...I want blogging to be informative for me but I also want to be enlightened. I suppose every person has different reasons for being a blogger though and SOME may just want to have fun.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Chi-Chi said...

Well, my personal blogging I find cathartic. I enjoy it . . . like a more public journal (in addition to my private journals). I find reading and writing quite enjoyable all around. You're right, everyone has different reasons for being in the blogosphere. Personally, my real life requires so much of my energy and time that diverting any of it to blogging (which, to me, is not absolutely essential and not where real change/real work actually exists) only does me a disservice.

There also, I think, should be a level of enjoyment to everything I do, i.e. for the sake of my mental health, everything has to have some element of fun. Or else, it just becomes a burden to do.

Chi-Chi said...

Oh, and I agree. It seems lots of people (I wouldn't limit it to Black people--maybe, I would say, Americans) are constantly looking to be entertained. I think this is so they can avoid thinking too hard about things. I actually find enjoyment in thinking hard about things--my husband says I think maybe a little too hard about things. But I also think that in many ways, enlightenment/education can be enjoyable while being meaningful and that's one of the reason why becoming a school teacher appealed to me. The teachers in my life who made education enjoyable (and not one big suffering session) are the ones who I remember most. Oh, and sometimes the enjoyment can just be the thrill of mastery/success--not necessarily "Yippee!!" kind of fun. You know?

Anonymous said...

I too used to argue online for days. I kicked that habit about 5 years ago. And yes it was draining.

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