i read an incredibly interesting post this morning by one of my favourite bloggerists, Jamie aka ‘the Very Worst Missionary’, titled, ‘Say Anything’

there was a lot of incredibly honest truth in it, such as this description of how quickly the whole internetting phenomenon eroded into a big pile of ‘No your momma is fat!’:

evilinternet‘What we quickly learned is that a keyboard and computer screen make us brave, maybe braver than we’ve ever been. And we learned we could say anything – literally anything.

And that changed everything.

That is exactly when The World Wide Web stopped feeling like a huge family room and started feeling like a little court room. Every post is a trial. Every word will be argued, debated, juried and judged. Every photo will be inspected thoroughly for signs of… anything that anyone can find wrong. Every flaw will be pointed out, every comparison will be made, every right will be invoked, every meme will be created, every unicorn will be interrogated. There is no end to it; this great, big, stupid argument we call the internet.

Say anything. Hear nothing. This is the New World Order.’

Jamie subtitled her piece on Twitter with [Because everyone I know and like is ready to quit the internet] 

[hoping i fit into the ‘not known’ category] because i don’t think i’m quite there yet.

Do shtupidt people annoy me? Absolutely.

Do the judgers and the haters and the posters of annoying cat and christian cheese and trite ‘motivational quote poems’ get to me? Of course.

Do the people who jump onto comments to pick fights with me [and then like a hungry dog with a very huge and overwhelmingly tasty bone refuse to let go. and sometimes that ‘bone’ is an old smelly tennis ball.] and then move quickly to name calling, character judging and unfriending [relief, you just gave me a gift former friend] get to me? For sureness.

But, as i tried to capture in this post on the judgement i have received in my life, fortunately, for me, the good outweighs the bad. And it’s the same with the internet. Once we realise and come to grips with the fact that trolls exist [man, just reading through comments on most articles on any subject that gets any kind of attention provides proof of that] then it is easier to not take it all so seriously, and also to tune in to the voices and people that matter.

Jamie continues with some wise words on how it can be:

But know this; A computer screen may make you brave, but it does not make you smart. And a keyboard may make you free, but it does not make you right.

I want my communities to be family rooms, not court rooms. I want the people I cross paths with on the internet to feel like they’re in my home, where they can say anything to me. There’s plenty of space here for differences and disagreements, but I will not save room at the table for aggression or harassment. I won’t converse with people who don’t respect or understand appropriate boundaries. I won’t respond to condescension. And I will never ever acknowledge Anonymous.

Let me make this clear. I love people. I love real life people. People in person are great things. And if i have to choose between internet people and real people then real people are definitely going to win. But having said that, sometimes the internet allows you to go where you can’t always physically go and to meet who you can’t always physically meet. And i have met and made some incredible friends on the internet [and i know a whole lot of people who think this is impossible, but clearly they haven’t met my internet friends].

Just this last year i got to connect with my English/Scottish [hard to tell these days] cousin David and many members of his family and family-to-be on the internet which provided a whole lot of fun and sarcasm and shared wit and contemplation and challenge to my faith and story-telling and sharing. And it was great. I have connected with other now-friends through a post or a story that was shared or a common interest and have received much love and encouragement and challenge [even though we are yet to meet in person].

But also, i have been able to maintain and grow friendships with real people who i have met with and spent time with and grown to love who are now in different states or countries or even just towns than me.

Skyping friends and family back home in South Africa while living and working in Americaland. Sharing funny pictures and silly videos and deep thinkings and poetic musings with those who have helped shape my world and place in it and who continue to do so.

Yes, the internet is so so bad. But yes, the internet is SO SO good.

And actually, it is neither. Because it is the people who use the internet who form the goodness and badness of the experience of it. The internet is the innocent little kid who has been pushed out of the line and when he got to the front they had run out of mashed potatoes. [Sorry little internet] It’s a tool. And sometimes it is used by tools [as we like to call them!]

So don’t do away with the internet… but perhaps, there is a way that you can minimise the negative effect it might have on your life…

And there are many ways to do this [and i hope you will share some of yours below] but one that i have recently decided upon and am trying to do is this:

trollOn the Twitterer [@BrettFishA] i have largely stopped following people who bum me out. People who are always negative or always picking fights or just complaining about things [unless they do it in a fun and satirical way].

And i have started trying to follow more people who are inspiring and encouraging and who link to fun or important or life-giving things. It is such a simple change to make, and yet it can have such a huge effect on my mood and outlook on life and general feeling. It’s like listening to a certain type of music that affects your mood and always leaves you angry or ready to pick a fight [for you that might by Screamcore but for me it’s generally Christmas carols]. Just stop listening. It is that easy.

Unfollowing someone doesn’t mean i hate them, it just means i am lessening my ‘being influenced by them’.

Try it. And let me know what other ways you have found for making the internet a nice and fun place to play again.

[For the time Jamie TVWM allowed me to share a very excellent piece she wrote on Sex before Marriage, click here]

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