It's funny that people think the fact that personal information is public on the internet somehow justifies attacking or commenting in mean ways. Well, it would be funny if it wasn't stressful. I know that most people have some kind of sense of common courtesy and either turn away from things that don't appeal to them, or leave respectful comments that carry no negative energy. However, a number of recent incidents lead me to try and remind the ones who don't belong to this category that it is not okay to criticize strangers on the net when there is no obvious desire from the other party to engage in such interactions. There is something called unsolicited advice. I implore people to consider if they would do so in real life, and what the consequences of that might be. I'm sorry to see that many people lack some basic social skills, and hope that they will wake up and realize they have something to work on if they wish to co-exist with other human beings in a reasonably harmonious way. Surely we all (including myself, of course) need to ask ourselves; "Would I like to be treated this way and is this really about the other person?" rather than hit the send button in a fury or state of over-zealous self-enhancement.
Let me give a few examples of what I think of as intrusive behavior:
- There are lots of people, especially young ones, who ask me to be their friend on blogcatalog. The majority only wish to promote their own blogs and often try to strike deals such as "if you'll comment on my blog I will comment on yours". Their blogs are seldom within my sphere of interest and so I really do NOT have the time or interest to engage in meaningless exchanges of comments. Cricket or tips about how to make money on the internet truly do not interest me, and it should be quite obvious just by glancing at my blog and its theme. All this bargaining for attention is tacky, takes up my valuable time and leaves me drained of energy.
- Some people take a look at my blog and wish to convert me to their beliefs. I'm sorry they feel that I'm on the wrong track. As it is, I really have no interest in islam or reading the Q'uran, just as I have no leaning towards Catholicism or Wicca. I can assure you that I was in ample opportunity to dig deeper into these if I had wished to while studying comparative religions at the university. I think it should be quite obvious that I have a clear spiritual line of thinking and am not intending to change it. And even if this is not clear to anyone else, those who are serious about the pillar stones of their religion might see that it's not in spiritual integrity to attack others because of their faith. Please take a step backwards and reconsider. Are you really changing the world by doing that? What has happened to the notorious religious reformers and their victims during the course of history? I have specifically stated that I do not wish to be saved by anyone. I wish people who visit my blog would actually read it from end to end before jumping to conclusions. And even then... well this is not really the perfect mirror of my reality, is it? Does anyone really think it is?!
- There are people who think that what they understand from what they read is the truth as intended by the author. Well, perception is a key in the understanding of life, and even though I am not the one to say that subjective truth is the only truth I do feel it has a place in this world. But even if someone doesn't believe this to be true, I'd suggest that they consult their basic moral values and see if bashing others on the internet is really a proper thing to do. It's interesting how this tends to happen among people who come from democratic republics who believe in the freedom of speech. I know, because I can more or less tell where someone is from even though their comment is "anonymous". Yeah, anonymous...
- Posting anonymous comments about the faults with my website is low. This morning I received this line: "remove the music, it's intrusive". Wow. It was so nice waking up to this, especially as it was so short and crisp, laconic, without any social fuss such as "If you don't mind me saying, I think that...". Someone must have felt about it very deeply, truly enjoying my artwork but hating the sound (which granted, is not my own). Well... my site is not really an online exhibition, but an introduction to my stuff. As it is, I'm not adverse to feedback but do appreciate a respectful approach. I know it's hard to conceive but these are my private spaces and you should feel honored to be allowed in. Thank you.
I'm sure that some folks out there don't care that others have a lot on their plate. In fact, it might be really exciting to pressure those who have a lot to deal with and see if they crack. Trouble is, there is no telling what is really going on behind the scene. I'd say, please don't even speculate. Be nice.
Artwork: "On Someone Else's Wall", photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009