The Internet is no place to be if you want to remain a happy and calm person.
Or maybe it’s perfect place to be. Once you realize that the anonymity and physical distance of being on the interwebs allows people to cut loose with their Id, to be someone that they want to be rather than who they feel forced to be in their everyday lives… it allows you some frame of perspective. You can read and process their comments and thoughts, and then take a breath, read it again, breathe more deeply, and then move on.
It’s 90% stupidity and vanity out here in the wildwildwest.com, all opinion and hoping for your fifteen seconds of fame and viral exposure (the fact that I keep a blog is your first clue that I’m no better than that which I decry). The loudest voices are those of the lowest common denominator and the furthest fringes. Intelligent, considered moderation gets lost in the ocean of noise – but then, this is a reflection of the world, of the culture that we choose to live by surrounding ourselves with the people and places and thought processes that we do.
I heard once – more than once, but who’s counting? – that the Internet (see also: FinalCut, ProTools, etc.) would be the death of society. Hey, now anyone and everyone can write, or post their music or movies or art, in a forum that literally anyone with access to a computer with a modem can view. It’s even better than American Idol! Except… when the floodgates open, the signal to noise ratio goes through the floor. There are more needles out there to find, but the size of the haystack just grew exponentially, impossible nearly infinite – so said the naysayers, who (in my experience) tended to be people that had financial loss in their chosen industry motivating their words.
For me, though, it’s been a wondrous experience, the last fifteen years. Sure, it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for me personally — with my writing, my short foray into filmmaking, my music all getting wider exposure than I could have ever hoped for as a guy from Birmingham, Alabama. But it’s a font of knowledge and learning, like being handed the gathered teachings and perspectives of the world in a compact but infinitely full (and still expanding) encyclopedia. Yes, there is a lot of noise, but some of that noise helps shape and contextualize the signal.
An old high school acquaintance (warning – amazing photographs of, among other things, creepy crawlies, especially spiders) posted on Facebook recently:
The fact that you’ve had your feelings hurt by someone doesn’t mean that you’ve been attacked or wronged in any way.
It may happen that one or both of those are true, but it’s not automatic!
I’m not certain that that sentiment is any more or less necessary for people to hear and consider than it was twenty years ago, before email and MySpace and Facebook and comments on news sites, but it is, in my opinion, necessary. And it’s true, too, with reactions of anger.
Just because you post something on your blog, or social media, or in a comment or a reply to email, that I read as stupid or narrow-minded, doesn’t make you stupid or narrow-minded. I’m learning that more and more every day, forcing myself to consider context and viewpoint, and then to ignore the stuff that I decide fits into my instinctive reaction. Because, really, life’s too short to spend all pissed off about things that you can never change, at least not as easily as you can avoid in the first place.