I write a lot of things that end up on the Internet. I also write a bunch of things that would never ever end up on the Internet. I carefully consider what types of things I want to share with you beautiful people, and what things need to be kept to myself or shared with a few close friends. I choose my content wisely.
The stuff I do post on the Internet sometimes looks personal, or like I’m sharing the deepest parts of my heart for the whole world to see. While I do agree that my goal is to make my writing transparent and genuine, I never ever share the deepest, darkest (or brightest) parts of my heart with a bunch of strangers on the Internet. I simply can’t do it. It would be foolish. Stranger Danger, and all that.
The stuff I end up sharing comes from conversations I’ve had with friends in “real life”. It comes from observations I’ve made at work or in my day to day life. It’s never the stuff I’m wrestling with personally, at the deepest level. It’s never about the relationships in my life (unless I ask permission first). Maybe sometimes little bits of that show up here and there, but it’s never enough to piece together the puzzle that is my heart or my brain.
This is the funny thing about writing on the Internet: when you start sharing little bits of your personal experiences, people assume that they know a lot about you. Some of you assume that we’d hit it off or we’d have a lot in common. Some people assume that they understand my heart. Other people assume I’d like to date them. The reality of these assumptions is you’re probably wrong (especially about the dating thing). You might be right about a few things, but I’m not so simple and straightforward that a bunch of writing on the Internet explains my every idiosyncrasy and quirk (there are too many quirks to ever explain). Even if we sat down and talked every day for three months, we would still not know each other inside and out. That takes time. Also, I talk in funny voices and it takes a bit of getting used to.
I do have friends I met on the Internet. I do share things with them. These people have ended up being kindred spirits in my life. Some of the people that “get it” the best are ones I’ve met on the Internet. But those friendships (like many “real life” friendships) started naturally and genuinely. Jokes were swapped. We chatted. We discovered that we had lots in common. We kept talking. Never have I had a real life friendship start by someone walking up to me and saying, “Hey, I think we have a lot in common. Let’s Skype and get to know each other.” That would be creepy. Like, turbo creepy.
Please be aware of something, dear Internets: even if you have read every bit of every piece of writing I’ve ever put on the Internet, you still wouldn’t know me like my friends and family know me. You still wouldn’t know the deepest, darkest (or biggest and brightest) parts of me. Those parts are reserved for the people who know me well and who love me even better. I love sharing things that I write. I love when people connect with my writing. I love when I get messages telling me when you’ve had an “aha!” moment because of something I wrote about. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing.
My favourite Internet interactions are those that say something like “Hey, I read your article. I really connected with it. I shared it with my close friends because it was a way to communicate how I feel with them.” Those are the messages I rejoice in. Someone has read a piece, then did something that will hopefully affect their “real life”.
If you read and connect? Awesome. If you think we’d get along? Cool. The bottom line is this: I’m not part of your real life, but I’m betting there are lots of incredible people who are. Read and consume content you find online, but don’t keep it relegated to the Internet. Talk about it. Bring it up with your real life friends. Don’t let what happens on the Internet stay on the Internet. This blog isn’t Vegas.
Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about iiiiiit.