Monday, September 14, 2009

Electronic Bravado

We are at 66 comments (and counting??) to that entry I posted . . . you know, the one where I put myself out on a limb and talked about my depression? Yeah, that one.

On some level, it's become almost entertaining to watch these clowns go down in flames. They're digging themselves into these holes and they apparently can't see it. Sad? Funny? Both? But they've claimed that thread as their own personal little place to play out some bizarre drama, that stems from incidents, circumstances, and situations that have NOTHING whatsoever to do with them personally. It sorta smacks of "unstable" and "stalker," doesn't it? It also smacks of Cyber Harassment, something the law has actually come to recognize as an actual crime.

And the person behind all this? The person whom said incidents, circumstances, and situations actually do personally pertain to (at least to some degree)? That person oughta be ashamed of herself. If sicking your friends in such a vicious manner is in any way fostering peace or offering support, well, I must be living in the freaking Twilight Zone. It's not at all difficult to figure out what's going on here: Cyber Harasser No. 1 and Cyber Harasser No. 2 were directed to my blog by Person of Interest A; Person of Interest A is clearly following this whole thing word for word. If Person of Interest A were truly interested in fostering peace, she would never allow her friends, Cyber Harasser No. 1 and Cyber Harasser No. 2, to behave in the vicious, harassing manner in which they have. If in fact Person of Interest A has demanded that her friends cease and desist from making a bad situation far, far worse, well, they're still goin' at it, so I guess they're not very good friends, are they? And if Cyber Harasser No. 1 and Cyber Harasser No. 2 had any sense, any decorum, any integrity, they never would have seen fit to make themselves involved in somebody else's family issues to begin with - or to pelt a family in the midst of a crisis with attacks.

Ahhh, let 'em go at it, though. It's become an entertaining little diversion. Almost.

What I really wanted to talk about here, is the fact that electronic communication - in all its forms - has made our lives both better and worse.

I got my first home computer in 1995 - fourteen years ago. At first I mostly used it for work stuff and journal-keeping, and desktop publishing. It was a while before I got an internet connection, and when I did, I didn't know what to do with it exactly. I created an email account, but not everyone was using email yet back then, so I didn't rely on that as a form of communication. Eventually I got involved in an "email loop" (this was before such things as (Yahoo Groups or Google Groups) consisting of several women who were all pregnant with their first babies and due in January, 1997. Over the years, I became involved in a number of online message/discussion boards (usually pregnancy-related boards), and then blogging. And email? It's really become my preferred mode of communication. It's nearly impossible for me to talk on the phone these days. Anyone with a phone and small children knows that a phone is a small child magnet. Mom picks up the phone? Cue the instant demands for attention from the kidlings. I have to lock myself in the basement just to make a doctor appointment.

I got my first cell phone when I was pregnant with Kevin thirteen years ago. I still remember what a huge deal it seemed like - I suddenly had this device that would allow me to make a phone call anytime, anywhere! I really initially got it for peace of mind - I was pregnant with my first baby and I wanted to know that if I became stranded somewhere, I would have the means to summon help. But the truth is, I didn't even carry the phone around with me in my purse. It stayed in my truck, and I didn't even turn it on unless I was making a call. In fact, it wasn't until Michael and I started dating that I began carrying my cell phone around with me and leaving it turned on all the time (I also bought M his first cell phone around that time) - ahhhh, new love . . . .

So now I have my cell phone with me at all times. The funny thing, though, is that I rarely actually use the phone part of it (remember that whole anti-phone thing I have going on?). I use it for texting and emailing a lot, though. And it's an iPhone, so it does all kinds of other cool things too.

So in these ways, my life has been made better by electronic communication.

But there's an ugly side to it all as well. First of all, as Michael likes to point out, it's intrusive. It's hard to get away from, all these modes of instant communication. But worse than that is the fact that it gives people a sense of bravado that I don't believe they'd exhibit in real-life, face-to-face situations. The trashing. The bashing. The insults and attacks and accusations. It's so easy to do that from behind the cover of a computer screen. I wonder if the person who left the comment, "Go boil your head, BITCH!" (and then deleted it, presumably because she realized how bad it made her look) would say that to my face. I kind of doubt it. She doesn't even know me. She's never even met me. If she did say it to my face, she'd certainly look like a psycho. But from behind a computer screen? She feels brave and powerful and can pretend that she's righteous. Yeah, whatever. But I've seen this same sort of thing happen over and over - not just on my blog, but on message boards. People get riled about something and they go on verbal rampages that they wouldn't dream of taking part in in "real life."

Have I ever been guilty of this? Probably. I'm sure in the past I've taken a dose of courage from behind my computer screen and said things I wouldn't otherwise have the guts to say. But after being the target of that kind of behavior on a message board once a couple years back, I've made a genuine effort to not say things electronically that I wouldn't say face-to-face. I've seen how out of hand it can get, how ugly, how utterly damaging. And now I'm seeing it again.


ashamom said...

Those girls need to get a life! I laughed hard when I read Michael's posts b/c he took their "arguments" and tore them to pieces - like a lawyer would. You both are so right on!
It's sad that they don't have decency to leave your family alone. At this point, you need all the love and positive thoughts you can get, but these b!otches are making a hard situation harder.
All I can say is: they should try to walk a mile in your shoes!

Cate said...

Yowza. people just get weirder and weirder.

I'm not going anywhere the Keanu Head Boilers Mess, but I just want to say that while the whole online thing can be bad, it can also be really good. Sometimes you find connections that help. I know I've found support that I never would have sought out in real life.

I hope you're doing okay. Your original post seems to have gotten a bit lost in all this drama. Which sucks. Good luck with the therapist visit this week.

Karly said...

Totally what Cate said. She haz teh smartz. ;)