When you live your life out on social media, open and absolute, there comes a moment when people begin to take you for granted. They think that they know everything there is to know about you, and with that assumption comes a tendency to demand that you do things, say things, and remain an ever-present update in the home page of their lives.
This isn’t a whinge; it’s merely an observation. I’ve often been told that people ‘hide’ behind the internet; they think they can be trolls, or jerks, or that real manners don’t count on the internet because people don’t have feelings here; that somehow insults and abuse and rudeness typed becomes less simply because it’s on your screen in black and white rather than in your actual physical location coming out of a sentient being with a voice that grates on your body, heart, and soul. Somehow, just because your username is probably not the name your parents named you, because it doesn’t have to make sense or even count as anything with or without meaning, that you cease to be everything you expect of yourself, everything you expect of everyone else.
Perhaps it does become true after a while that certain people simply develop reputations as jerks and one therefore avoids them, ignores them, and treats them with the contemptuous disdain that they surely deserve; what then becomes of the jerk? Does the jerk have feelings? Does the jerk expect the reaction all the time or do they expect tears and fears? When that reaction is no longer forthcoming, do the jerks then tell themselves that the insults are less simply because it’s on their screen in black and white rather than in their actual physical locations coming out of sentient beings with voices that grate on their bodies, hearts, and souls?
And what of people like me who remain polite, despite sometimes feeling not quite up to it? What happens when we continue to be ourselves because we believe that we are accountable no matter where or how we are? I believe that good manners count for something; that kindness is the only absolute thing. I would rather be nice than not; I don’t mind that people send me irritated e-mails asking me to update my blog, or demanding to know why I’m not on Twitter or asking me to update Facebook. I don’t mind because I know that I chose this, and in some small fashion, I know I am missed when I take some time off, when I simply want to be alone, and not the Awanthi that everyone thinks they know. I keep something back; not all is an open book, but I cannot expect everyone to know that.
I suppose that this rather wind-about post is simply about pondering online presence and internet behaviour, and about the assumptions that come with it, and the personas people hide behind or in front of; the people that they become because someone else labels their behaviour and now they are forever either good or evil for a given definition of both. I suppose I was merely thinking today, at some stage, that this made sense somehow, to tie the two in together and wonder about things that other people assume and that I know, or perhaps it’s the other way around.
I’ll tell you tomorrow.