For a while now I have been so careful. Nearly every post I create and share with the world, I think about. I think about the people I implicate, the things I say, the way I say it...I think about it all.
After all, if you share it on the internet it's 'out there' for everyone to see. But I also think that give and take attitude should be considered by the readers of any blog - if you don't like what you see, it's okay to express that, but please think about how you'll go about doing that. As bloggers we really do think about our readership and care about them. But we're people, too. Behind the pictures of our well-dressed children, our posts on how to make pita bread pizza and our computer screens sits a real, flesh and blood human being. With feelings and emotions.
Over the weekend I became quite reflective and spoke about a past relationship I had here. Before I published the post I had to think it through very carefully. Did I want people to know things about me they hadn't known before? At least, not from my mouth. Sure, people can (and will) assume what they like...but I hadn't said the things I did before the post. Ever. Not in person, not over the phone and not even to my mum. I'm pretty sure I hadn't even shared my thoughts with my husband.
A relationship like I had is something I don't think about very often, let alone let off steam or talk about. I don't get the opportunity to talk about it and quite honestly I don't know if I care enough about it to go there all that often. It happened, it ended and I'm over it. I don't know how many ways I can say that, really.
It's just that there are some blog entries I read from other people and I think to myself; 'woah, they're sharing a little close to the bone here.' And although I've had several people email me to congratulate me on my ability to lay myself on the line and shoot from the hip the truth is that I'm actually quite a private person.
I explained in my previous post that I kept my relationship on the down low. I saw that my friends would get into relationships and suddenly everyone comes rushing in with the advice, the unwarranted remarks and somewhat catty comments.
I see blogging in the same light. If I don't want someone to criticise me, I better not write that post. Or if I do write a post and someone takes offense/finds something wrong with what I've committed to words then I better make sure I'm ready to deal with it. Whether that's to completely ignore the nonsense or engage with a comment or reply to an email, I better be ready.
There are things I've said on here and there are responses I've had that I've found tough to deal with. I won't specify anything but suffice to say the negatives and the hurtful responses have been to a minimum - I'm either very lucky or very unpopular ;). But the things people spend 30 seconds on writing, they have an impact on us. Whether we admit that openly or not, they hit us in some way.
Another example of this is when people say stupid things on Facebook. I usually find the people who know me the least say the most hurtful things on-line about me. Ranging from me throwing a tantrum, to me being a horrible person, a bad mother, a brain washer, selfish, judgemental...etc. The list goes on. And on. At first I would retaliate with people and engage their own negativity until one day I realised; those who matter don't mind and those who matter don't mind.
In other words if someone really thinks all of the above about me, they are welcome to think that way. I won't stop them. But I will continue to do what I think is right and live my life. I won't change my values or views just to get a popular vote - I never have and I won't start doing it now.
I remember being 15 years old and being at a very strange party (sorry mum. You never knew about this) where everyone was either drunk or drinking. I couldn't tell you, even to this day, what was strange about the party it was just a certain vibe. I knew I shouldn't have been there. For a start me and my friend had talked around the party and I think I'd even told my parents we'd just be hanging out at my friends place - my friend then told her mum that we'd be hanging out with another friend, I suppose it's the old cliche and not very original at all.
Anyway...this party was weird. There were plenty of people around to talk too but the lights had been put out and there was a horrible strobe light going off in the corner of the room. The music was too loud and I felt sticky, hot and awkward. It's the sort of situation I would die if I found Roman in it when he's 15 - in fact I'll send him to military school if I ever do!
Like I said, everyone was either drunk or they were drinking booze. Being 15 and Scottish it is not uncommon to be drunk or drinking. But let's remind ourselves that I was LDS, 15 and Scottish so it was a different playing field for me. I refused any drinks for fear of them being spiked with alcohol or drugs. I was polite to everyone and made good friends with one girl there, but apart from that I really didn't want to be there. I don't remember any pressure to drink and anyway I didn't usually cave to peer pressure - I only did things to try them or because I wanted to do it.
I never had a strong urge to experiment with drugs or alcohol - and there was plenty of opportunity in front of me should I wish to. I just wish I could show that part of my personality and my life story to anyone who doubts my strength to say no, my strength to keep doing what's right and my strength to really do all I can within my means.
The point is that back then, at 15 years old, I knew drink and drugs were bad. I didn't want to go down that route because I knew I would only let myself down if I did. I see returning a negative comment back in that same light. I see retaliating and responding (and feeding) negative emotions and actions to be just as destructive as drink and drugs - okay, maybe not in the same way, but definitely in the same vein.
When the party ended I remember the mess of the place. I remember seeing it with the lights on. I remember the words that came out of many people's mouths; "We respect you."
I want to be the same with blogging and with the negativity on the internet. I want to be free to say what I feel is okay to share - which would only be appropriate to share off line as well as on line - and I want to share my life with people, free of the judgement I've seen being made on other bloggers over the past few days. We should be free to share innocent videos of our kids, free to share what moves and inspires us without fear of what a small minority will respond with.
I can't promise that the bad feeling and comments won't hurt me, because I am sure they will. But I want to hear, 'we respect you, Cara. We respect that you don't hurt us back.' Maybe I'll never hear it, but I will definitely feel it for myself.
And as Bill and Ted say: be excellent to each other.