Being social…..

How doth the little crocodile

Improve his shining tail,

And pour the waters of the Nile

On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,

How neatly he spreads his claws,

And welcomes little fishes in,

With gently smiling jaws!

Writing is complicated for me, blogging is a disaster.  I’m very socially adept in person and actually quite outgoing when I feel like it.  People usually seem to like me despite my severely antisocial tendencies and sarcastic speech impediment….but online I’m shy, avoidant, and unsure of myself.  From reading people’s comments it seems it’s usually the other way around.  Most interact online more boldly and open than they would in person.  I guess I just happen to fall on the opposite side of things.  I’m not really concerned about how I’m perceived in person for a multitude of reasons…but for one, there is no record of myself floating around (well…) and no one I’ve known has time stamped transcripts of every conversation I’ve ever held with them….not to mention the silent audience…the whole idea quite frankly makes me uncomfortable and paranoid.

I think my main problem with interacting online though is the lack of body language.  In person I can usually read people like a book (ha! like a book…) and I think there is much to be said about intuition and general feelings or ‘vibes’ you can only get from being physically near someone.  Especially in the back and forth of conversation.

Personally I feel more comfortable online with the people I have physically met than with those I haven’t.  I think it changes the dynamic and it also changes how you perceive their thoughts.  I have no worries of anyone I’ve met in person misinterpreting something I’ve written because they know where I am coming from.  And vice versa.  I interpret the writing of people I’ve met much differently than those I haven’t.

With social interactions online I’m stuck with only words and how I personally perceive those specific words in my head.  Without the context of body language I have a really hard time understanding what someone intends behind their statements and the nuances of the subtexts.  I guess that’s where the writing skills come in, especially as far as commenting.  You need to choose very specific words that from every angle can still be seen the same way by every person (or more specifically by your intended audience, or better yet both).  I’m terrible at that on the fly and really hate to be misunderstood….I also think that many people come off online as archetypes of themselves and it can be easy to pigeonhole someone into a certain personality type.  I think it has something to do with how deep everyone who writes is delving into their psyche to express what they’re thinking.  It’s difficult to expose and everyone has their bizarre mental ticks that can only be exasperated when you’re communicating on this level.  

It’s not that I’ve been surprised or disappointed when I’ve met someone in real life that I’ve personified in my head, but it’s definitely not the same.  And actually Ria’s last essay I think illustrates my point exactly [I can’t even get into the last WITR…holy crap Ria!].  In my head everyone here is a character based on my wild imagination and personal mental associations.  Obviously we are not that in person.  At least for realities sake I sure as hell hope not.

Online I’m a lurker at heart (In person I guess its called voyeurism :p)   Most of what I end up writing is just a mental indulgence I allow myself to keep my head from wondering aimlessly while I try to sort out the messes in my life without resorting to self destruction to pass the time.  I keep posting them because…well…it’s nice to know I’m not the only one!  I tend not to comment much for the reasons I stated previously, or because it’s already been said more eloquently by someone else, or because my head is so tired from whatever I wrote that I’ve used up all my witty and thoughtful words for the day.  So I end up showing up once a week or so and posting something intensely personal and then not saying much afterwards….I’m not sure if that’s rude, but I haven’t been shunned yet, so I’m assuming it’s acceptable.

I guess I’m also looking at this from a really weird perspective.  I went about the whole blogging thing totally backwards…[well I also think I’m doing my whole life backwards…but that’s another beast]….I met many of the people I know online in person protesting before I ‘met’ them online.  It’s a really strange bridge to gap and I know for myself when the internet was first coming around the warnings and fears instilled about trusting predators online out to kill you were very persistent.  There is of course reason behind that, but so is fearing your physical neighbor.  It’s a fear that’s causing an exaggerated dismantling of community on both sides of the equation…  

I’m also of the mindset that many of the people who write here have ideas that are incredibly important and I think conversations between groups of thinkers can only do the world good.  I originally started this whole blogging thing because I thought the people writing on sites like this were going to be the ones to make the real changes in the world.  [I gave up on politicians years ago]  I really like this site specifically because I think the people that have gravitated to writing here have some of the most interesting perspectives I’ve come across and the biggest hearts of any people I’ve met or ‘met’.  

I’m not quite sure where I am going with all this…as usual.  But to find a point, I’m excited to see everyone in Boston on Saturday!  And I think for those of you who find comfort in the online community, this is a nudge to let you know you can also find support from the same people in your real life too.  Turns out we’re average people (well….) working towards the same goal in a very strange time…. The rules seem to be fairly flexible…so I say bend them when you can!

And on a side note…for you Bostonians…I’ll be a resident by the end of the month…just signed my apartment away this morning!  I’m personally always up for meeting new people, so if you ever find yourself in town give me a ring a ding 🙂

30 comments

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  1. If you don’t like them I have others….

    The captain is a very moral man!

  2. and i KNOW ive irritated more than one person with my excess of ;)’s…

    if there were an emoticon for a dismissive shrug, i think id be ok….  😉

    • RiaD on April 9, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    wish i could be in boston…. 🙁

    • OPOL on April 10, 2008 at 12:38 am

    that’s what personal diaries like this remind me of.  One of the nice things about DD is how welcoming and friendly the crowd here is…it makes it less threatening to post personal diaries like this.  In other places it seems there are always those who just want to throw rocks or tear people down.  That’s too bad, because I think it’s when people feel safe that you get the best glimpse into their inner workings.  I also think it’s important to be free to err…to know that if you say something dumb (and don’t we all from time to time?), that you won’t be flayed for it.  It’s great to be able to share intimate thoughts with like-minded people and to have a place where it is safe to do so.  This is one of the great things about Docudharma to me…I feel I can be free or get all goofy or sentimental without being judged too harshly.  That’s a pretty cool thing (IMO).  It’s nice to be among friends.  And I don’t care who they annoy…I love me some emoticons.  🙂

    • Bikemom on April 10, 2008 at 4:35 am

    You’re quite extraordinary I believe.  

    I love this diary, I admire you so much for being able to express yourself like that!  Apparently all those chemistry classes did not stifle the verbal part of your brain.

    So your search for transportation to the fall DC protest at Big Orange was actually the beginning of your blogging career?  

    Since we are friends here I can share with you that my husband is right now theorizing about the origin of planetary spin – it sounds pretty good but he can’t figure out why Uranus, Pluto and Venus have opposite spins to the rest.  So even though my kids are asleep I must unfortunately split my attention.

    BTW the link for the MIT energy expo this Friday…  

    • pfiore8 on April 10, 2008 at 5:44 am

    in 3D world

    yes!

  3. I guess it’s all a matter of what’s comfortable for you. Seconding or thirding an opinion, even if not as eloquent, is still good to hear.

    I know what you mean about body language and tone of voice. Writing is a mechanical process and it takes practice to use effectively. I can think of no better place to practice than write here. :^)

    There is always a fear of expressing ourselves, that we will open ourselves to ridicule, but I think that by not expressing ourselves, we let others do it for us. That’s never good; that’s how good people go along with bad ideas, and that’s how they find themselves believing in bad ideas after a while.

    It’s an excellent thing that you expressed yourself in this essay. Now I know more about you and count you among friends.

    • KrisC on April 11, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    meeting everyone in person…but more excited than anything.

    I’ve never met anyone from my online life…so it’ll be a good first for me.  And like you said, vc, body language has a lot to do with how I relate to people as well as what the eyes say about a person, context is sometimes a stumbling block for me.

    We’ll have a grand ole’ time!!!

    • Metta on April 12, 2008 at 8:48 am

    but I wanted to be sure to say your essay has been on my mind for the last couple of days.  Bravo!!! or Brava!!

    This is one of a few wonderful pieces of writing lately that define what (our) internet community means.  It’s not important to go into my personal experience except that in my only other internet community involvement, which was a mountain biking website, became real for me when I met and rode with people, individuals and groups who expanded my world across this country and into Canada.  I look at this community as people who I may have the opportunity to meet in person one day and I will be glad to say that I have represented myself in words the best that I can.  I am not so clear in speaking yet as I become more comfortable verbal communication becomes easier.  My convictions are gelling and heart and passion are there to back me up.  My writing online is too controlled often I am trying to let loose a bit and be more free.  I feel less inhibited to share stuff here but I sometimes agonize over making it an accurate account of my true feelings.  Can that really be sincere?  I wonder now….

    I also mostly lurk because I cannot give the time and attention that my thoughts at this time seem to require.  I am not one to banter.  I love observing it though and it feels a bit voyeuristic at times!  I am on the wrong coast to meet up with the Bostonians but I’m sure it will be exciting.

    I’m so fortunate to live in a super supportive community.  My own anti-social tendencies are the only thing holding me back.  We surely need to take what we can trust of human interaction here and apply to our home lives.  I saw a bumpersticker today.  HUMANKIND- Be Both!!!

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