In honor of the expanded diagnostic criteria recently published in DSM-5, I’m going to write another humor post…
My WordPress account has been up for two weeks now and I’ve learned a lot already. Coming up with the actual post is the easy part. The difficulty lies in public relations – interacting with the online community.
I’ve been taught by a posse of Franciscan nuns, at a very early age, to avoid talking to strangers, especially strangers on the internet. Now that I’m on the blogosphere, I have to override years of conditioning in order to communicate with complete strangers…on the internet.
None of you are creepy so I won’t refer to you as strangers. I guess I can think of you as neighbors…really nice neighbors who live just an email address or URL away!
But it’s still kind of hard to talk to people whom you’ve never met, especially when you can’t see them or hear their voices. You have to judge their sensitivities and proclivities based on their writing alone and their About Me pages. Using the content of your writing and judging from the style, tone, etc.; they perform psychoanalysis on you when you comment and you likewise perform psychoanalyses on them before you reply.
It’s not like you can read their facial expressions (unless they use emoticons) or nonverbal cues, understand their perspective completely, or know the precise context in which they say things. You can only guess and assume the best. Since everybody on WordPress (or at least everyone I’ve encountered) is super nice, assumptions on meaning tend to be right. (I say this because I get my news from Huffington Post, and if you read the comment threads, it will make you question humanity.)
For somebody as neurotic as myself, interacting with the online community is really draining! By the way, my biggest fear about blogging is offending people. I don’t want to cause misunderstandings or hurt anyone’s feelings.
I also don’t want to make my internet persona sound too cutesy, too prissy, too weird, too dumb, too pretentious, too judgmental, too this, too that. Because I know everything I post will be the sole basis by which y’all judge me. (If you really knew me in person, you would know for sure that I never say, “y’all”.)
Since I’ve only started blogging two weeks ago, I’m at a disadvantage compared to others who have been doing this for years because you get a better sense of either their true identity or their fabricated internet persona with so many different posts. Me? This is just the 5th post for little old me.
I’m not extremely sensitive (You may laugh at me with a “hahaha” or an LOL. Or an LMFAO, if you really want to flatter me. The real me is not going to cry. In fact, the real me will think you have a great sense of humor.) And I don’t base my self-worth on the opinions of other people (Oh gosh, now I sound like an insecure teeny bopper).
I just don’t know what my internet persona is supposed to be. I’m just a neurotic blogger with an online identity crisis. (In my offline/real life, I’m totally fine though. My Angela identity is set and confirmed. Like really, I’m good.) But I’m not quite sure who this “thegirlandthebox” is supposed to be. I can’t even decide on a Gravatar to depict her. Is she supposed to be the perfected version of me? The me that I aspire to be? The polished and nicer me? I still have no clue.
In the midst of my crisis, I’m doing my best to follow the rules of netiquette, which forces me to talk to strangers (umm…I meant neighbors). But my online identity crisis has turned me into a very shy commenter. I had to force myself awkwardly at times to leave comment posts, in order to increase my own site traffic, because I’m just evil like that.
While being evil, I discovered there are some really awesome blogs out there that needed comments, so I attempted to break the ice for the online community by being the first commenter. And being the first commenter is both a frightening and exhilarating experience for a neurotic blogger with an online identity crisis.
I posted because I believe in the Golden Rule – Treat others how you want to be treated. And that was my redemption for acting so selfishly.
I like it when people Like what I posted. When I got my first Like, my internet self and real self were both leaping for joy. It was a sign of acceptance from the blogosphere like a friendly nudge that said, “You’re alright, Kid.” (After reading this post, please don’t feel obligated to Like it because you feel sorry for my neurotic ways. I can totally tell the difference between a sympathy Like and a real one.)
I like it even more when people leave comments, but my God, it’s hard to think of a reply. It must be a special form of writer’s block called replier’s block. (Now I hope it doesn’t scare anyone into not leaving any comments or ignoring me. My internet self may struggle a bit but I promise to reply.)
Then like a junkie who had hit rock bottom, I had an epiphany.
It all started with the email I sent out to my family and friends informing them of my newly launched blog…
I started a blog because I have too much free time lately. If you don’t mind getting spammed with my silly observations, mediocre writing, or cell phone quality pics; please check out this site [inserted link to this blog]. If you know of anyone else who would care to read my nonsense or someone whom you would like to spam, please send them the link.
Hope all is well!
My intention was to share a piece of myself through my writing with them. I wanted to introduce them to my brainchild.
A couple days later, I lapsed into paranoia and imagined some of them may have been hurt or offended. How is that even possible, with such a humble email, you may wonder?
Well, I imagined that my beloved friends and family may be thinking that they’re not good enough for me. Perhaps, they thought, “Angela doesn’t want to talk to me directly. She would rather spill her guts online and talk to strangers than me.”
Friends and family, I assure you it’s not like that at all. You’re wonderful people. I love you dearly. But it just so happens, my internet self likes to write and she can be an attention whore.
And that was when I realized that proofreading everything I intend to post, three or four times from multiple angles to make sure it can’t be misconstrued as an insult may be overkill.
There is no cure for blogger’s guilt. What I learned from these past two weeks: We all just have to cope with it and continue writing bravely.