I am one hundred positive that someday, something I write on the internet will come back and bite me on the ass and result in some kind of awfulness for me. Personally, I am terrified that I’ll be the victim of one of those pop-up internet controversies like the Justine Sacco thing. I do my best to stay safe just by remaining aware that everything I write–even if I’m just putting it on Facebook–is very public. And, in fact, it’s not uncommon for me to post something and then immediately delete it. However, I am still sure that it’s going to happen someday.
The problem with putting things on the internet is that something that seems perfectly fine when it’s heard within the context of your usual online community can sound completely batshit when someone from a different community hears it. For instance, that Justine Sacco tweet? I’ve heard my friends say much worse things. In fact, I myself have said much worse things. And no one batted an eye. Because we’re friends. We believe the best about each other. And, moreover, we share a certain context–a certain mindset–created by our shared class and education level and leisure interests.
When I write this blog, I write it for people I can imagine: other writers or people I went to college or activist-type people or ridiculous Silicon Valley tech people. The average reader of this blog is, at least in my mind, a pretty ridiculous, laughable person. Now I am not saying that it can’t be appreciated if you’re not that kind of person, it’s just I know what my typical reader is going to think of stuff. However, if you’re not my typical reader, then your reaction is much more opaque to me.
And I know that there are so many other kinds of readers out there and so many different kinds of anger. (For instance, I had several college friends who wrote political(ish) opinion columns that would then reposted on right-wing forums that would viciously dissect their arguments and impugn the characters of the writers.)
So all I am saying is…I fully expect that someday something I write on this blog will be recontextualized in a way that will cause a large portion of the internet to see me as a huge idiot.
On the other hand, sometimes people ask me whether I am afraid to put anything on this blog, and the answer is…not really? I tend not to write about anything here unless it’s a pretty settled issue. For instance, I just wrote a long post on my sexual orientation (which got shared on WordPress.com’s Discover portal, resulting in a spike of traffic to this site), but that’s all the result of thinking that I’ve done and been doing over the past six years. I didn’t write about any of that agony while I was experiencing it, because that would be too inchoate and unformed and vulnerable for the internet. However, now that the emotions are more processed, I have no problem with putting them out there. Similarly, I didn’t post about my sobriety or my weight loss until they were years in the making. And I didn’t make any posts about my novel-writing technique until I was in the midst of writing my seventh one. Yes, despite all appearances, I do play things pretty close to the vest.