We live in a global society. I’ve known this for a while, however, not until recently did I notice how much this paradigm shift has affected my life. We—human beings—are not as distant as the miles and cultural rifts suggest. We are, in fact, interconnected quite closely. For better or worse, the world and all of its people are our neighbors. When crossing the Atlantic—which only takes 6 hours—the sense of transitioning from one place, culture and world to another is stark. Although you needn’t board a plane to have that same epiphany. Just sit at your computer, as you’re doing now, and take a moment to think of from where these words have come: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Many of my readers and blog hoppers do not live in Toronto, Ontario or even Canada. When you and I meet on the weekends for these little chats, it’s understandable that we would take for granted the miracle and magic of the internet that makes this possible. We are, after all, drowning in technology and interconnectivity. The silicon highway is faster than any plane, faster than nearly any other method of communication to which human beings have access. Unfortunately, all that access has not hammered out the kinks in human nature, anger management, or even the presumed ease to commiserate and celebrate with humankind. As Louis CK famously said: “everything is amazing and nobody’s happy.” A great deal of the content that fills the internet is either porn, vapid news bytes, or a faceless expression of rage spewed into a troll-post. (For those of you still catching up on internet slang, a “troll”, is an internet persona—much like the fabled lurkers under the bridge—that incites conflict.)
A caution to you bridge dwellers: recently the habit of trolling has become a double-edged sword. In today’s wild-wild internet, you’re not as faceless as you believe. You can be doxxed, and have your personal details strewn all over the web. You can have your hatred screen capped—sometimes unfairly, though you should always be careful of what comes out of your mouth or head. Being an asshole in digital life has begun to carry with it as many consequences as being an asshole in real life—or RL (old MMORPG slang for ya). Act like an absolute imbecile and you’ll be immortalized in meme form. Future generations of humankind will be able to ridicule your ghost for all eternity. I agree that there are certain dangers present with this proliferation of informational freedom, such as bullying and harassment. (What happened to the—mostly—female targets of the whole Gamergate fiasco has been utterly appalling.) I am sure that there are countless people abusing and exploiting social media toward nefarious ends. However, let’s leave the villains to enjoy their gloating silences—for now. Let’s talk about you, and I, and the conversations that we’re having here and elsewhere on the internet.
When I started this whole “media personality” thing, I didn’t do it with nearly as much guile or caution as I should have. A friend of mine simply suggested that I should: “write a blog”. And this was before the launch of Feast of Fates or any consideration about tactics for social media. I don’t like “tactics”. It implies that there is a war to be won and we have enough of those. When I started writing, perhaps two people a week read this blog—surely friends of mine. Now, I get over 1000 unique visitors a month. I had to take a look at those stats to check their accuracy, and to see if they were actually “unique” tags and not spambots or webspiders. I am delighted and humbled that so many people are stopping by to check out Geadhain. I’m veering off the point a little here, which was to explore how I have handled social media, and what I see and admire others doing in their digital lives.
For starters, I don’t post a million things a day. People don’t need to know what I had for breakfast, how good my workout was, how substantial of a poop I had—yes, I’ve seen those Tweets. I find there is simply too much information on social media for me to sift through. I don’t want to contribute to that digital static. I want what I say to have importance and to not be lost in that noise. Also, touching off the previous points about internet “behavior”, what you see with me is what you get. Possibly much to the vexation of my PR agent, I do not have an “outside face”. In interviews I swear, I speak my mind. I try and do the former only when necessary, and the latter as often as possible. In fact, I’m such a reserved and internal person that when I have the chance to speak with another living creature, I am stricken with diarrhea of the mouth. I am myself. My chatty, eccentric self. That fellow, thanks to Cynthia and the other mentors in my life, happens to be a reasonably polite, well-spoken gentleman (on the subject of which, I watched Kingsman last night—good fun).
Therefore, I do not fear the web. I understand that it is a communication medium as valid as any other. I understand that what I say is recorded as permanently as my work. I understand that if I would not have the gall or indecency to do something in RL, then I certainly should not be doing it on the internet. This is the new world, the evolving reality. Our travels down the silicon highway are more exposed, vulnerable and at the same time, exciting, than at any other time in humanity’s history. So for God’s sake, be polite (unless your resting state is “rude”). Be yourself. Be aware that everything you say and do online has an echo. Open the metaphorical door for your digital neighbor. Welcome others with a digital smile. (Cool it on the emoticons, though—that can be a bit much.) How we behave in this mirror world of ours shapes the ugliness of our reflections in real life. Always remember that.
All my love,
P.S. I am in LOVE with this header image. See ‘The Great Hunt’ in all its glory over in the Gallery.