It’s been a strange week for me. My dad and my aunt both underwent significant surgeries, and my boyfriend had a terrifying experience with Clear Air Turbulence on his business trip to South America. Meanwhile I’ve been home alone, wrestling with my thoughts and emotions about it all. Many times I’ve wanted to blog about what’s going on, but each time I sat down to do it, I found myself… hesitant, unable.
(For the record, both surgeries went well, and Andy has already flown twice since the CAT incident.)
The thing about the internet is, it’s forever. And also, it’s full of strangers. And though I may think I’m saying something harmless, I don’t really know who’s reading or how they might interpret my words.
In general, I’m not one of those people who fears that what they say will get twisted and shoved back in their face. I believe in the goodness and rationality of mankind. I figure that if someone misunderstands me — or even if I really do mess up and say something stupid — I can clarify and be forgiven. Life will go on.
Furthermore, who’s really listening, right? I’m not John Green or Heather Armstrong or Ashton Kutcher. I have my little circle of friends (you guys ROCK, btw) so what’s there to worry about?
Well, that’s where the “forever” part comes in. In real life, when we have late night conversations with our friends, where we ramble for so long that we start to forget what we’re saying even as it comes out of our mouths, it’s no big deal. We’re expressing a single thought in a single moment. Then the moment passes. Like a footprint in the sand, the thought has made it’s impression, and then it gets washed away. Harmless.
On the internet, moments don’t pass. They can be stumbled upon or searched for, days or weeks or years later. Even deleting your words doesn’t guarantee that they can’t be found. (Thanks, Google cache.) Maybe I’m not famous now. Maybe I don’t have enemies or “haters” yet. But maybe someday I will.
Look, I don’t believe in living my life in fear. But I also don’t believe in living in ignorance. So all I’m trying to say is, sometimes I don’t know how much to say.
(I realize that for something like health scares and traumatic plane rides, I’m probably safe. Short of crazies or trolls, no one’s going to attack me about that stuff. But this issue of “what you say online” has been on my mind for a while. And not just for my own blog, but also for comments, and discussions boards, and Twitter, and everything.)
It’s funny, because this is part of why we all blog, right? We want someone to read our words, to connect, to respond. It’s not about agreeing all the time (because wow, that’d be boring). It’s about sharing experiences, ideas, and opinions. It’s about learning and growing and feeling. It’s about adding our thread of life to this vast digital web.
So I’m not going to stop blogging, and I’m not going to stop getting personal. But I guess I just wanted to say that it’s not always easy. That there are valid concerns, and I don’t always know what to do about them. So I have to proceed as I would with anything else: the best I can, and with good intentions. Hopefully that’s enough.