Some people reading this may become very confused if you've missed the comments and posts on various blogs this weekend. I apologize, but you can either skip this post if you have no clue what I'm talking about a few paragraphs in, or you can keep reading. It's really up to you.
A while back, Tash had a thought on her blog that went: "the only people reading my blog for a while were those googling things like 'cat liver problems' and oddly getting plopped into my life." Movies like Grand Canyon try to explore the ways in which we crash into each other, how we enter each other's lives. And more importantly, why.
The Internet didn't create the concept of crashing into each other; it only enlarged it. Now, without leaving my home, I can crash into people, hundreds an hour. Or they can crash into me. My blog is a sliver of my life, translated into words, and so if you read it, you are also connecting with a part of me.
I have often thought about what I write and how my words could affect someone Googling and finding me for the first time (or, anyone who reads me regularly for that matter). Sometimes I get the words right on the first try. Other times, I need to have someone tell me how they read my words to fully understand how they could help or hurt. And I have certainly thought long and hard before I've run full steam ahead with an idea, though it may seem as if I didn't pause at all. An example came recently with the life coach who offered sessions in exchange for ad space. I turned over the sessions to someone in the community instead of using them because my right sidebar is my gleanable space. But I really sat with that decision a long time because I wondered what my responsibility would be. What if the person who took the sessions had a terrible time? What if it was emotionally damaging? It wasn't--the person told me it was very helpful and I had a huge sigh of relief.
Crashing into one another brings with it responsibility. That responsibility needs to be kept in check--I can't be everything for everyone--but it does need to be noted. It is a fine balance: I am upset when I hear that someone feels I didn't respond as they wanted me to respond or that they felt slighted. At the same time, I am human and fallible and have limited amounts of time. So, it is a balance, though I am mindful of the responsibility even as I keep it in check. It is sort of like carrying water--it can be done, but only so much, and carried so far.
I was not going to write outside that post about the comments that unfolded on the emotional fraud on the Internet post but it has reached a point where I feel like even with keeping it from its own post, it has grown so large and spread so far that I'm not sure if anything is lost or gained by discussing it.
An anonymous comment was left on the post that asked a valid question. I answered it as best I could. She asked follow up questions and I answered them as well, and in doing so, found something that could help me do this better next time, if there was ever going to be a next time. And I state this to everyone considering asking the community to crash into each other's lives: troubleshoot. I wish now that I had emailed every donater directly rather than posting on the LFCA and having Vee post on her blog. I assumed back in March that when no one stepped forward, that everyone had read it and was fine with it. I really wish now that I had sent out an email too and apologize to everyone who participated who didn't see the change in plan or why the plan changed.
The comments lead to hurt feelings. People love Vee and Max intensely--they have both been blogging for a long time--and added their words in their defense. People love Kathy (the anonymous commenter who revealed herself on her blog) intensely--she donated her leftover embryos recently to another blogger who is currently pregnant--and added their words in her defense. And then, to bypass the trouble of any of the trainwreck sites from declaring my comment box on that post a trainwreck, I'll just state it for them. It became a trainwreck that hurt many feelings. And for that, I am truly sorry--to Vee, Max, and Kathy--and to all who walked away feeling scorched from this.
Wiseguy--who is much wiser than wiseguyish--had a parable on her blog that really put into perspective for me why Niobe's post that I wrote about for the post in mention affected me for so long. Because while I consider myself fairly circumspect and cautious on one hand, I also know that I embrace people without question the moment they figuratively knock on my email or blog door. I think you need to read the parable in order to understand why I felt the need to respond to this at all because it applies in two ways to this post. I'll wait until you come back to say this next thought.
It is certainly scary to think about opening up your heart to another person and having them take advantage of your trust. It is equally scary to think about how we could ignore a person in need because we are so skeptical--so sure that everyone poses a possible threat that we see all people as an actual threat. Because that was certainly happening for me as I read Niobe's post and considered the enormity of trust that needs to occur when forming relationships from afar and over a medium such as the computer. I haven't been disappointed yet--I have made amazing friends and met wonderful people and have only had good experiences. And yet, perhaps because I had heard of how the horse had been deceitfully taken away (I told you to read the parable!), I started to think that all people were looking to get my steed even when no one had really asked for anything more than directions. I was starting to not trust anyone and that is not who I am.
And so, the only cure for me is to write it out and also take a step back to find my balance, breathe, and refocus.
I want to state a final apology to Vee, Max, and Kathy and to everyone who had their feelings hurt by this incident. I'm not sure the way forward except for everyone who read the post and what followed to take a step back, find balance, breathe, and refocus.
I considered closing the comments for this post, but I didn't because doing so felt too much like sticking tape over a mouth. Or, at the very least, taping together your fingers. Therefore, I leave them open so you can speak your mind, though I've closed the comments on the post discussed. My one request is this: that before you type anything, you think about the grave responsibility we have when we crash into each other's lives. I will delete any comments that involve name-calling, that fan the flames, or are pure vitrol. And, of course, in saying that, also admit that I am imperfect and may leave something up that you wish I had taken down or vice versa. But alas, I own that too.
A good rule of thumb would be to write a comment that reflects your own feelings rather than talking about another person.
I will also readily admit that I need to step back in order to get work accomplished. I lost too much time on Friday and I'm behind with a deadline. I also think it would be good for me to literally find my breathing space by stepping away from email for a day or two. So I apologize in advance if you email me directly to discuss this and I don't email you back for a bit. Or email me about anything. Because I will not be online a lot and when I am, I will most likely be catching up with reading the Show & Tell posts.