Tag Archives: trust

Befuddlement and Clarity. Somewhat.

This is a strange post for me to write, and one I didn’t think I would be writing, because I thought the whole issue was in the past and wouldn’t come up again. In fact, it doesn’t need to come up again other than for the fact that I’m bringing it up, because it digs at me a little, still. Why? Because I’m an insecure person who doesn’t like to be lumped in with the “crazies” when authors refer to fans. Granted, this was when the authors were breaking up and going through a lot of stress, and I’d been going through an extremely hard time myself, but I was trying to help, in my own misguided way, got frustrated when I thought I was being made fun of and said some things I shouldn’t have, but was immediately shut off and blocked before I could explain anything.

That is one thing I hate about the internet. The fact that someone can just shut you off as easily as they turn off the tap. Yes, I might have been a genuinely crazy person, and yes, I do refer to myself as mentally ill, but after finding out what I did last night, I had to wonder if people who are hiding bigger secrets about themselves tend to trust other people less. If they are actually less secure, or were less secure, than I was, and that was the reason for the reaction.

I’m not up to date on the “gossip” in the M/M Romance world, because there are a fairly close-knit group of people I follow and talk to. The two authors I was following, but didn’t anymore after that incident, I had no idea what was going on in their lives anymore. I heard rumors about a woman who had been pretending to be a man writing M/M Romances, which I didn’t really pay attention to. There are so many women writing in M/M I didn’t see what the fuss was about.

It was about the putting on of an identity and presenting that identity as an author to fans, who connect pretty passionately at times. I had no idea that A.J. Snow wasn’t a man, or that Theo Fenraven was twice the age I’d thought and had been born a woman, but is a man now, and really, always has been. I hope I phrased that right, Theo, if you read this–if I messed up, it’s unintentional. I never saw you as anything other than a man, although, as you said, a younger one. I kept what you told me a secret, and I’d hoped that had proved I was worthy of some trust on your part, and I didn’t mean what I said; I was very, very frustrated and of course had no idea of the difficulty of what the two of you were going through on top of just separating.

The problem is that I am basically WYSIWYG–I have never been able to put on a persona of any type, so I am just me, for better or worse, and I have a thin skin, mostly for worse.

That isn’t really important here, but it is in a way for the reason that I am impressed with how well both authors were able to present their images to the public. I can understand how some fans would be really upset to find out those identities weren’t real, but a true fan is one who would give you their support whatever the case. A.J. Snow had an excellent reason for changing her identity, and I think she’s extremely brave, both for pressing on with the identity and for coming out. I know this is late support, but you have mine, even if I am one of the blocked crazies. And Theo, you have my support as well. I think you’re both fantastic friends for sticking together and supporting each other the way you did, and I’m so happy A.J. Snow has met someone she’s truly, truly happy with. Theo, I’m glad you’re out of the grey you were so miserable in and someplace warm and sunny, and your photos are as gorgeous as ever.

Because whatever their author identities, it doesn’t change the quality of their work, which is excellent. Sometimes people have to do things for reasons of their own which have nothing to do with the fans. Fans need to be mature and accept that. People don’t like fairweather friends. What about fairweather fans? Authors are people too, with lives that are sometimes messy and hard, really hard, with difficult decisions. Would you rather respect an author for telling you the truth, a difficult decision for them, or turn your back on them for being honest? Yes, it may burst your bubble, but I can’t imagine living a lie, sort of why I wrote that I can’t live with a persona online–I can write in a fantasy world, but I can’t live one online. The closest I come is when I sometimes get a little delusional and think sometimes people are better friends than they are. I don’t know if that’s always delusional or just hopeful.

I know that’s a really odd image to put up, but I bought those socks, compression socks, because I realized I might be wearing them for a while (I do wash them, obviously) after I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (non-progressive–still trying to figure out why I have it). The point of that is that it’s invisible. No one knows I have it unless I say something, in real life, and online, no one knows at all unless I say something. I know you can’t compare socks and sexuality (unless you have a sock fetish, granted, some of these are kind of cute, but I don’t think they count), but there are people who want to make some things invisible and they try to force everyone into little boxes of invisibility so they don’t have to see or hear the truth.

I think what A.J. Snow and Theo Fenraven did deserves admiration and respect, as well as the support of those who have been their fans. It does hurt to be lied to, but when someone is also willing to tell you the truth, you should listen, because there’s often a really good reason. It doesn’t change who they are (in real life)–it changes something that never existed in the first place.

So I may be mentally ill, with my ups and downs (I can relate to fear of crowds and the need to escape, I have a generalized anxiety disorder that used to cause panic attacks; I’m on medication for it now, but there’s still a lingering fear sometimes, and being around a lot of people is exhausting. I was also “mobbed” at work for a year and a half at my last job, which makes it hard for me to be around groups of people or to trust groups of people, so there are some things I can relate to, if not everything) but it still hurts to be a blocked crazy. That was before this, because I didn’t even know this happened until last night and I just felt compelled to offer my support. Neither of you deserve any ill treatment for having the courage to be who you really are, and I think it’s terribly sad that we live in a world that makes it so difficult and harsh. Love is love. A good book is a good book.

I wish both of you the best and all the happiness you deserve. And sunshine. 🙂


The World Interpreted through Alice in Wonderland


Consulting the Oracle


First Meeting

Many Don’t Arrive


A Meeting is Held

Alice is voted unanimously as Ambassador


Waiting to meet the Red Queen

(With trepidation )


A productive discussion did not seem in the cards


And, in fact, became quite hostile.


Things on the home front were not much better.


With a heavy heart, Alice helped prepare her friends for battle with what little she could find.


Alice listened to the Mock Turtle’s prophecies of the outcome of the war.

    4E9FC6FE-AC4F-4C99-AF28-2985270D3379.png Is the Mock Turtle going to be right?

Mr. Putin, speaker with two faces?

Mr. Netenyahu, regretful of civilian deaths?


Who will take responsibility for their actions?

Who will pretend to paint the roses red with the blood of the fallen?


Words on Bullying Not From Me

Reblogged Below

Taking Steps Ahead, or Moving Away from the Past


This is somewhat of a follow-up post to some of the posts starting with When Groups go Wrong. I have been having issues with that whole event, one of them being letting go.

Letting go of things is difficult, for many reasons. It can be something we’re used to and we don’t like change. Check. It can hurt. Check. (But it already hurts, so then, what difference does moving away make?) The voice of reason–not mine–interjects–disengage. See, luckily I have some voices of reason, because I haven’t been reasonable at all times. In fact, I’ve been downright obstinate in my refusal to be reasonable. Why? I trust the people giving me advice. “Just stop dealing with the people who are making me miserable.” “Stop going back.” That is the absolute best advice anyone can give someone in a situation like mine. I wasn’t in the place to listen to the words. I could hear them, but I wasn’t listening.

One of the people involved in the whole debacle I considered my friend, and I cared about him. Whatever the situation is at Headquarters in terms of identities, people, numbers, reality, I considered him my friend and I was determined I could make him see reason and we could be friends again. I did crazy things things I normally wouldn’t do. I asked a friend on the board to contact him, and he was horrible to her. That should have been a clue right there. I felt terrible about that–she didn’t deserve to be treated that way, and he owes her an apology. I tried to send couched messages through my blog. I thought, he read it once, maybe he still does. “Not very likely,” my stalwart friend told me. He’s realistic. I’m better at deluding myself than I thought.

The thing that really hurt, the reason really keeping me back, was that my supposed friend hasn’t made any contact with me whatsoever. He had, on the “sage advice” of the “moderator,” blocked me as soon as things started to happen. Anyone who reads this or knows me knows communication is incredibly important to me. This silence from him, my complete inability to contact him, made me appreciate a little more what it must be like for some of the students I worked with who were nonverbal but had so much to say. I still went back and read the posts, and after a sadly long time I realized something, and I confirmed it with my friend, who agreed, so I knew I wasn’t going crazy.

My friend was changing. He is using phrases he never used to use, acting in ways he never used to act, saying things he never would have said. I have never divulged his secrets to anyone. If anyone has, its on his side. But they’re his secrets, he can tell the world if he wants. Now, sadly, it seems he won’t have to. On the very slight chance you are reading this, are you happier now? More fully realized as…an individual? Is this what you wanted? Because you’ve succeeded, and it’s a tragedy. Which is better: having more people like you on a superficial level, or fewer people like you for who you really are?

Sometimes we hold on to things so tight, we want things so badly, and then the truth hits so hard and so suddenly at first the realization is a relief. What I held on to was my old friend, the person I wanted to talk to was my old friend, not this new person using his name. I don’t like him. I want nothing to do with him. If I met him in real life, I’d think he was a jerk.

So there it ends. First I was grieving for the loss of a friend. Now I’m grieving for the death of a friend, at least that persona, that identity. But there’s a finality to that. That ends.

Please get help. There are links on the right side. Use them. 

And this, hopefully, will be the last of this series of posts. It is time to move forward. Enough is enough. My brain has been re-aligned, and will stop moving in circles but drive forward, except for the occasional times when it wants to do wheelies for fun. I am very grateful to have good friends who are patient enough to deal with my temporary insanity and give me good advice as well. I don’t know how I got so lucky. It was just a good connection at the right time.

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye

Stonewall Riots

The early hours of June 28th, 2013, mark the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which occurred outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Central Greenwich Village, New York City. David Carter calls these “the riots that sparked the gay revolution.” I knew nothing about them until recently. They occurred the year I was born, which makes me very happy that some other good things came out of 1969 and that it can be remembered for other things than Nixon being sworn in as President for the second time. Not an auspicious day to be born on. I could argue I was born in the Philippines and I actually missed that whole debacle entirely, I suppose.

But that’s not the point of this post. These riots were a remarkable step in gay rights. Here’s the Wiki link:


If anyone has a better one, or a link they think would add more information, put it in the comments.

I was wondering how I could follow up the news of Lief getting a new heart, then I started to think about what that actualized symbolized. I’m big on symbolism. Basically, because you can examine something, say what you think it interprets, and while people can disagree, they can’t outright tell you it’s wrong. Who is anyone else to tell you what you see in something is wrong, just because they don’t see it?

This is what I was thinking. Someone’s family lost a loved one, someone precious to them who will always be missed, and then allowed his or her heart to be donated so Lief could live and continue on, given everything goes well, with his little ten year old life and all the expectations he had before he was stuck in a hospital bed for five months. That heart is starting over, beating in a new body. Giving Lief new life.

So, on this anniversary that will always be the same age as me, an anniversary for a life changing event for so, so many people, this is what I have decided.

I am going to let the past go, as hard as it is to do, because there is still pain and there are many things left unresolved. At this point, however, I don’t think they will ever be resolved. It is ironic that the person I discussed the Stonewall Riots with the most is one of the entities I am leaving behind. I am done with subterfuge, mind games, sly cunning, psychological mischief, and emotional abuse. Done. I am done with pretenders who take the game too far and continue to reel people in like fish on a hook for their own personal enjoyment. It’s sick and it’s twisted.

The first discussion I had with the person who I ended up talking to about the Stonewall Riots was very big on pride in being gay. I said there was nothing wrong with being proud, but it might cause a distancing effect from other people who didn’t understand, and maybe it was better to try to bridge the gap with understanding so that rights were just as important as pride. We sort of went around on that one for a while. But, for someone who is so proud of being gay, look how you’ve treated the people who supported you. Look back at the situation and tell me you can’t understand why myself and some others reacted the way we did. For myself, I don’t even know you exist other than the occasional postings and lamenting on the board. If you’re reading this, did you read the first half of this paragraph? Did you read the part about pride? You want to complain about people leaving so you can act sad and say, “Last person out shut off the lights.” Is this a self-pity party? Imagine how different things would have been if the three of you had handled things differently. You had an active say in the way the outcome could have been determined. Couldn’t you tell I was trying to help? Did you even give me a chance, listen? No. You both disappeared. For things being “private,” they were awfully quickly dispersed, don’t you think? So if pride in being gay is more important than kindness to fellow humans, if pride is more important than friends, if you hold your pride so close to your heart you don’t let anything else in, then tell me, what is the use of pride? Isolation? Lack of morals? Lack of values? Bad judgement? There are still ways open, it’s your choice to take them or not. Just remember, pride cometh before a fall.

Aren’t you glad that no one came along and deleted Stonewall out of history the way the entity so easily deleted the life out of our group? The winners are supposed to write the history. What if the winners are really the losers? The heart is gone, donated elsewhere, and the group will never be the same. Why don’t you both just leave? Do something more worthwhile? Start a group about something more worthy. Gay rights in literature. You’re both smart, if sometimes similar.

I think I’ve said what I needed to, at least what I’m willing to post to my millions of readers. lol But, you think you’ve figured everything out. You haven’t. I’m a little surprised, actually. I’m a little disgusted at what you’ve left up, yet my posts are offensive? You need to sit down and do some serious self examination, which is what I’ve been doing. That’s why, with this anniversary of Stonewall, I still support the cause it stands for as strongly and wholeheartedly as ever, but you are in my past, a regrettable mistake. It wasn’t until the early hours of June 28th, but you won’t have read this since you don’t speak to me at all. I truly am a non-entity to you, but you do have your pride to wrap yourself in.

One of my online friends, who is not much older but is incredibly wiser, which I think is unfair, and I have discussed this, and I’ve known all along he was right and putting it in the past was the right thing to do, it was just so hard to do. Then I was standing there at the sink, sorting out the dishes–I hate washing dishes and am very OCD about the order in which things need to be washed–thinking about everything, and Lief, and the David Carter book, and the friend I have who’s homeless because her asshole of a boyfriend kicked her out when she started showing some independence and who spent the night with us last night and may be back tonight because there was a mistake and the spot she was given at the shelter was given to someone else before she got there. She’s in severe pain because of her back–she’s going to need to have surgery, it’s so bad, and I thought about how strong she is, and how strong Lief is, and how brave the patrons of the Stonewall Inn were, not even knowing what they were starting or the effects it would have on gay history and gay rights. And I thought, yes, I’m in pain right now, but it will fade, and I have better things to do with my life. I have a new editing job. I have things with voc rehab that need to be done. I need to get my health insurance straightened out. So why am I feeling down about a friendship with someone who could obviously care less if I were breathing or not? Why waste the time? Why bother feeling things for people who make no effort to communicate with you? That’s ridiculous. I might as well try to have a conversation about nebulas with the broom.

It’s time to move on, from immature hurtful people to somewhere else where people are more respectful and kind. I learned an important lesson, and unfortunately it took this to teach it to me. Just because I am who I am online doesn’t mean other people are. I’ve been too gullible. People don’t trust that I am who I am because they aren’t who they are, for the most part. I need to stop trusting people I don’t know so easily, because all that does is make myself vulnerable to people pretending to be something they aren’t. Sometimes it’s something little that doesn’t matter so much. Sometimes it’s something malicious and malevolent. I also have people online now that I trust quite a bit. I don’t know if I could ever develop a persona. Probably not. I was never a good actor, I just need to be more careful.

I’m tired of trying, this post is the end of that trying. I’m stubborn, yes, ornery, yes, but there’s no dealing with lack of conscience or emotion in another person. The fact that I am those two things mean that I have feelings, care about things. So, people got hurt. On both sides. It didn’t have to be a war where someone “wins.” Game of Thrones is fiction. That’s part of the problem, though, isn’t it, fiction vs. reality? But och, even then there’s that pride again. Pesky thing. Even Mr. Darcy wasn’t this bad. I’m proud I’m finally moving on (really, this time, anyone who knows me knows it takes at least a few false starts, or ends, I should probably say, before I actually do manage it).

On to something bigger, better, with no regrets. Everything is a lesson. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe people meet the people they do at the times they do for a reason, for however long. I wouldn’t have met some of the people whose friendship I value if this hadn’t happened, and that’s my future.


What happens When Virtual Friends are Imaginary?

Imaginary FriendWhen I started this blog I was stuck at home on medical leave for my elbow, doing a lot of writing, and talking a lot to my characters. Luckily they didn’t talk back too often and we rarely argued. But what I wrote as the subheading, Keeping my Imaginary Friends Imaginary, was slightly true. I needed to keep the line between what was real and what wasn’t defined, because I can easily get lost in my imaginary world, call my SO or the cat one of the character’s names (the cat didn’t care, my SO, a different matter). I needed a connection to the outside world. I think that may have been about the same time I started joining groups online, to at least talk to other people I assumed  were real.

Now, as anyone knows who has watched Silence of the Lambs or heard the saying elsewhere, it’s never good to assume because it makes an ass out of you and me. I innocently clip-clopped my way along the virtual super-highways, not looking for the roads that had trolls under them. See, that gets confusing when it coms to the fairy tale, because there are the toll trolls, and then the internet trolls, and they are different. The toll trolls are scandinavian in origin, I believe. Internet trolls are ruder and nastier than toll trolls–you at least know what their terms are. Internet trolls are simply there to make trouble and stir people up like a nest of hornets. I don’t mean Internet trolls, although you have to watch out for them too, I mean the toll trolls. These have grown more sophisticated in the age of technology. They sit outside the doors of forums and groups, and those of us who are naive and innocent (the big billy goat gruff is still playing Bejeweled, can’t get him away from it) fall for the lure and promise of friends who understand us. And, amazingly, as promised, they do. The world opens up and everyone speaks your language.

You meet people, start to find out who you like the hang out with the most. If you’re feeling a little in need of extra attention, there are people there to give it, perk you up.

This is my cautionary tale to myself. There are people I have met online that I trust–I trust their advice, when I’m unsure of something I go to them. There are, however, only a couple of these, and only one I would tell the most embarrassing situations I’d created for myself. That’s out of all the people I talk to, most of whom I’m mostly sure are real. If you’re wondering if this goes back to the When Groups go Wrong post, yes, it does.

First of all, however, I think the whole setting of the scene needs to be defined. Basically, in terms of the computer, what is virtual?

According to the Merriam-Webster, the applicable definitions are:

4: Being on or simulated on a computer or computer network <print or virtual books>

a: occurring or existing primarily online <a virtual library><virtual shopping>

b: of, relating to, or existing withint a virtual reality <a virtual world><a virtual tour>

So, then, just by turning on the computer you are letting yourself into a virtual world. I was trying to think of reasons why we trust people we don’t know so easily. It’s not something new. It happened in newspapers before it ever happened on the internet, it (creating false identities) just morphed along with the new technology. And when we accepted the new technology, and our families accepted it, in some cases, even grandparents, and we all emailed each other and sent pictures, etc. we let our guard down. On Facebook we talked to our family and let our friends in. These were all people we knew were real. People with only these experiences went into the world of internet groups and chat rooms with their guard already lowered. After all, the other people they’d talked to were real, right? One possibility. Another is our hope, when someone we meet seems to be someone we want to spend time with and so much in sync with us, we don’t want to think they may not be real.

I should make a differentiation here. I’m not talking about people not what they seem, necessarily, or sock puppets, but people who have been given a personality and voice, a picture of who they are, by someone else, and are controlled by that person. If we are in a group and there’s a moderator, or co-moderators, we are essentially in that virtual world they have created for as long as we stay in their “space”–a little chunk of virtual space with all these virtual identities clinging to it. The closer a group is, I think, the less hard they have to cling, because they have faith in their virtual world, that it is what it seems to be, and isn’t pretending to be what it isn’t. You know your moderator is real, not imaginary. If you lift the mask, there’s a face there. Not so with the virtual imaginary friends.

I should explain myself more clearly. These people have an outside identity, a shell, so that they appear real, but if poked too hard, they collapse in on themselves like an old balloon, the deception of their identity flaking off. They were someone else’s creation. But how could they be, you might protest. You talked to them, had privately messaged conversations that you thought only the two of you shared. But if the person is imaginary, who were you talking to, who were you messaging, and, most importantly, who was reading what you were writing? You have just expressed your innermost thoughts meant for the now very flat person on the ground to someone you don’t know, some other virtual person who isn’t imaginary, but who controlled your “friend” who you thought was real.

It’s such a convoluted world. When we go into a virtual world, we have to remember that everything else, to an extent, is also virtual. At one point in the discussion in the group I’m thinking of, the moderator joked, “What do you want, us to photocopy our driver’s licenses and post them?” in an attempt to make us sound ridiculous. Now I wish I’d responded. “Yes, actually. I do want to see your driver’s license. For all three of you.” If I had called his bluff, which he correctly guessed none of us would do, the whole drama would have been over, although I’m guessing he might have had a back up plan, an excuse why they couldn’t.

I don’t think many people are going to have that situation, where a moderator has created imaginary friends to help run the group.

I suppose it’s not really a problem for anyone unless they have what they thought was a special friendship with one of those friends. Thought that maybe they really could be good friends, although why they’d want to be friends with a prickly hedgehog escaped them. Possibly because they tended to be able to be friends with real people with similar temperaments who had been co-workers, the ones that drove everyone else batty. The ones who were always put on the same shifts with me because the assistant manager knew I didn’t mind said prickly person. He was literally most likely a genius and probably had Asperger’s, hence the total lack of people skills. Why he was in retail I don’t know. His interactions with customers were often very amusing to watch and I kept an eye out to make sure I didn’t have to intervene. Especially as his “inside voice” was quite often his “outside voice.” I would sympathise with him that yes, people were often very stupid. I often wonder what part of the universe he’s ruling now. Why he got along with me but not anyone else. Possibly because I accepted him the way he was. This is who that friend online reminded me of, even down to the Borg.

I wish it didn’t have to be this way. Having a friend suddenly become imaginary is a bit of a shock. More than a bit. Nerve wracking.

I’m open-minded about it should the situation change. The doors aren’t shut, but neither are they flung open wide. I have learned some things.

Maybe I should change my tagline to : “Making sure my imaginary friends are real.”

Nothing is Simple

steampunk bicycle

It’s true. Nothing is simple. If it were, it would be too good to be true. Why is it that life seems to be like an unceasing fairy tale, where we keep coming across the obstacles, but never reach the dream? There are moments in there, of course, little slices of time that feel like snuggling on a couch with someone you care about, hand in their hair, then they’re gone, and you’re left on the couch alone wondering what went so wrong and how you could go from admired to hated so quickly. You’re tried, sentenced, and beheaded before you’re given a chance to defend yourself, and you realize you’ve wandered into the Red Queen’s garden accidentally.

“Oops,” you might say as the ax falls. “I should have been one of the flamingoes instead.”

Or is it like Groundhog Day, where you have to keep reliving the same day over and over until you get that one infinitesimal thing right, the one you couldn’t quite put your finger on before but suddenly bursts forth in all of its resplendent glory. You get to pass go. You get to collect $200.

Or, you don’t figure it out, and suddenly your’re talking to a health insurance representative who answers your question about whether or not you had health insurance during May and June with, “Wellll, you did and you didn’t.” Or you’re told by two different departments at a university, “Of course, we automatically defer late enrollments for September,” while the head of your department was told, by the same person, “Why would we tell anyone that? They have to ask if they want to be considered for enrollment in September.”

Nothing is simple when we are like little ants, people with no meaningful lives to these people who make decisions every day that are nothing to them, little people whose decisions are determined by bureaucrats who don’t have to worry about the fact they can’t go to the doctor, or that the decisions they make regarding someone’s enrollment have staggering effects. We’re just game pieces to them, names on a piece of paper. Which, if we’re lucky, don’t get paper-clipped to the back of the one in front of it.  That’s happened to me, for a referral I was waiting for while my left hand was atrophying away to look a little like a skeleton’s, only it was the wrong time of year–May. How like my body to refuse to time its injuries to the appropriate holiday.

While I hate to stick in a long bunch of lyrics here, this is a song that has resonated with me on more than one occasion–it voices how I’ve felt many of the times I’ve felt trapped, oppressed, and like I’ve had no choice (say, for instance, in a job situation). It’s from Muse’s album Resistance, and the song is Uprising. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8KQmps-Sog  I like Muse in general, but this album and The 2nd Law (a little more uneven and not as cohesive as Resistance, but a good album nonetheless) are both good.


Paranoia is in bloom,
The PR transmissions will resume,
They’ll try to push drugs that keep us all dumbed down,
And hope that we will never see the truth around
(So come on)
Another promise, another scene,
Another packaged lie to keep us trapped in greed,
And all the green belts wrapped around our minds,
And endless red tape to keep the truth confined
(So come on)

They will not force us,
They will stop degrading us,
They will not control us,
We will be victorious
(So come on)

Interchanging mind control,
Come let the revolution take it’s toll,
If you could flick a switch and open your third eye,
You’d see that
We should never be afraid to die
(So come on)

Rise up and take the power back,
It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack,
You know that their time’s coming to an end,
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/m/muse/

I will be the first to admit that their videos seldom make sense, and the teddy bear in this one seems just a bit…malevolent. But if you think the one for Uprising is odd, find the official one for Supermassive Black Hole.  <g>

Their concerts are great as well, but very noisy. They’re the only ones I go to see–I’m picky that way.

Well, all those lyrics tired me out, and I don’t feel like a huge rant.

But it’s definitely true. Nothing is simple.

Playing Nicely

This started with a conversation with my youngest sister, who is on the internet more than I am these days and involved in more things like Tumblr and such. She started to talk about sockpuppets, which cracked me up, because I thought it had something to do with one of the conventions she’s always talking about where she does cosplay, and for some reason reminded me of the episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer had space fever or something and dressed up in the little red gingham number and had a handpuppet who was in charge because he was delirious.

I’m not exactly ancient, but I remember when AOL was a brand new company and all you had was dial-up, and watching it connect on my old black and white Mac Classic screen and getting incredibly excited. Does anyone remember when the internet looked like lists of subjects? No cool pictures all over the place, when Mosaic was a browser? I spent hours online looking up ways to hone my Magic decks. I didn’t have a lot of versatility: either white and blue or white and green. It has changed so much. No support for Macs for Internet Explorer anymore, no more updated Netscape, no more updated Eudora.

There are a lot of advantages with the way the internet is today. There are also some odd things it seems to make people think are OK to do. Take the abovementioned sockpuppets, defined by wikipedia as an online identity used for the purposes of deception. I’ve always used one account, which makes it pretty easy to track me down, and holds me accountable for my actions when I’m online. I have thought if I ever wrote in a genre where I’d want to keep my identities separate, I’d have a different account for each. Just to keep those identities separate. I went onto some author blogs today, because they seemed the most concerned with multiple accounts. One author said that unless for the reason I mentioned above, or to have an author account and a personal account, there was no need to have any more than that. I couldn’t find anything from the perspective of the readers, but from the authors’ viewpoints, one of the reasons they’ve noticed for readers having multiple accounts is to leave multiple reviews for friends’ books to bolster their ratings, or, conversely, write negative reviews for another authors’ books to bring down their ratings. The authors whose blogs I looked at were skeptical of reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads for this reason, especially people who had only written a few reviews, or gave lots of one star reviews with no reason why.

I’m a not very successful author (yet), and I can see where this would really be a problem. The ratings do influence people–I know I pay attention to them, but if something looks interesting enough to me, I’ll check it out anyway. The weird ones are the ones where there are a bunch of fives and a bunch of ones. A love it or hate it book. A reason that came up on one of the blogs and in the wikipedia article was that one of the reasons for having sockpuppets was so you could go to groups or discussion areas where you really shouldn’t be, pretending to be someone you weren’t, for whatever reason you wanted to go there for.

But one of the main reasons I’ve never had more accounts was that it just didn’t seem very ethical to me. I don’t know how Goodreads or Amazon would or could keep track of something like that. It’s easy to come up with another email address and sign up for a new account. I’d always held that belief and figured most people did the same until a recent experience taught me otherwise in one of the groups I’m in online. There was an activity that was a somewhat complicated thing involving several parts. Let’s just say it was divided into parts, and different people were supposed to be involved in each part. I discovered that my “different” person had used two screen names other than the one I knew to participate in the activity. The first one would have been alright, I suppose, if the second part hadn’t involved something she shouldn’t have been involved in, but was under the other screen name. So three screen names. I could understand two, possibly, but adding a third to manipulate the situation, I think, was unethical. I was upset about it, but the answer was, why shouldn’t she have three? The woman I asked had about ten. Ten. Who needs that many? Ten??? (I rarely use multiple punctuation).

This is a group I was starting to become more comfortable in, I was actually posting instead of lurking. But now I’m going to try to keep my mouth shut and go back to lurking. It’s a little like Big Brother. You never know who is really there and who isn’t. Shouldn’t we know who we’re really talking to? Sure, there are people “in the know” who know all of the identities, but then that starts to get clique-y, and I hate stuff like that. Sort of an elitist air among the people running the group. Yes, there needs to be control of the group, but there also needs to be control of how many identities a person can have. I wouldn’t talk to someone in real life, start becoming good friends with them, and then one day someone else shows up and says, “Oh, hi, I’m Monique today,” and then you’re never sure which Monique is coming over.

That may seem melodramatic and maybe even a little childish, but it’s easy for people to hide behind their computers. That’s already a degree of trust that you’ve given up just in that–you’ve ceded that you don’t know what the other person doesn’t look like, sound like, and that you can’t read their non-verbal language (from last post). You’ve given all that up and all you can trust are the words they put on the screen. That requires a great deal of trust. Which, amazingly, we do. We want to find other people like us, who want to talk about the things we like, so we’re willing to take that risk just so we can talk to strangers because we have something in common that we like. Which is often how people really do meet. We trust them (I trust people more quickly than I should) and hope things work out to be friends. How do any of you know that I’m really who I say I am?

The sad thing is that people seemed surprised I questioned how many screen identities you could have, as if it had never occurred to them that there might be something wrong with it, that some people might think it was a little…sneaky. A little underhanded. That it made the person that I had thought they were more untrustworthy, and it made me wonder why they had never thought it might be thought of as strange, not in a good way. Now I am not entirely sure what to do, leave because I don’t feel comfortable there anymore or stay because the discussions are interesting and just keep quiet?

I don’t know why little things like this bother me so much. I think it’s because I worry if people stop questioning the morality of small questionable actions, the size of the questionable actions they don’t question will increase by tiny increments until it’s large, important issues that effect truly important things.

Carlb-sockpuppet-02a                      So, let’s say no to sockpuppets, and yes to playing together nicely. children playing










Online Communities

I may have mentioned that since I’ve quit my job I’m going to Vocational Rehabilitation, and I’m going to these classes that help them determine how serious I am about this whole rehabilitation process. A lot of what we’ve gone over so far is stuff that I’ve done in other workshops. In one handout, though, there were some statistics on communication.

This is what it says, verbatim: “One-on-one communication is 7% words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% body language.” So, when we write to each other, unless we know each other well and can imagine reactions to things, we’re only getting about 7% of what is being said, because all we get is the words. That leaves a huge area for misunderstanding, miscommunication, misjudging, judging, condemning–the list goes on and on.

Now, granted, this is concerning personal communication face-to-face, but it made me wonder how it could be applied to the internet and how we communicate there. I’ve seen a lot of miscommunication take place, get explained, get cleared up. I’ve been in the middle of some of it. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be, because you have absolutely no idea where you stand. If it’s something that isn’t such a big deal to the other people involved, or there are other things that need to be taken care of first and the situation isn’t the highest priority, I wait for an email with this anxious feeling of dread. The feeling like I’m the newest, I’m the one that doesn’t belong. Territory has already been staked out, I’ve infringed. People don’t know who I am, what I’m like, whether or not I have ulterior motives. It’s as if no one believes someone can actually be nice just to be nice anymore, they have to have a reason. Well, I’ll say it, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting myself on a pedestal, but I’m nice just to be nice. I help people because I want to. I like to help when I can. Sometimes I don’t always get it right, but my intentions are good.

But, the problem is that even saying that, it’s just words. No one on the internet who doesn’t know me in person knows whether that’s the truth or not. They don’t hear the tone in my voice. They don’t know how upset I get when I feel like I’m suspected of wanting something in return. Is that the kind of world we live in? That being genuinely nice causes you to be regarded with suspicion?

I don’t have any deep dark secrets. I don’t like being bulldozed by people and feeling powerless, although there’s the argument that the only one who can make me feel powerless is myself. Sometimes that really isn’t the way it works. I don’t like it when I feel like I’m not being listened to, or when what I’m saying is misinterpreted (again, there’s the 7% of what we get over the internet–just words).

People who know me in person would say that I’m a nice, kind, funny, caring person. I would say that I trust people too easily, and am too gullible, because I have the sort of autistic (I’m not, I just scored high on the tests) “Theory of Mind” where I believe other people are the same way, they think the same way I do and perceive things the same way I do. So I don’t learn and I do the same thing over and over and over again, expecting things to turn out differently. Do you know what that is? One of the definitions of insanity. One of the men in my class said he was an “optimistic pessimist.” I asked if that meant he was pretty sure things were going to go badly.” If I were a cartoon character, I’d be Charlie Brown, always believing that one of these times, Lucy will leave the ball there.

Because I want to believe the best of people, even though there is constant proof in the world around me that people are not capable of living together, much less communicating.

People seem to have become fairly skilled at navigating online communities. I’m not sure I’m one of them. I finally forced myself out from being a lurker, to be more of an active participant, yet, now everything, at least for me, is stressful. It’s not for the other people involved. They’re intrenched, they’re the ones running the show. It’s their playground, their rules. It makes me sad. I haven’t decided what to do yet completely. I’m still waiting for the person I didn’t want to bother because she’s so horrifically busy putting a complicated project together to write me back–I didn’t want to bug her in the first place, but that’s what I was told to do. I don’t blame her for not getting back to me right away, there are other things that are genuinely more important right now. But because my 7% of words have upset the wrong people, I think I will end up leaving the group simply because it will be too uncomfortable. It’s not my sandbox to play in.  It does feel a little bit like kids on the playground. There are some wonderful, fantastic people in the group. Lurking is still under consideration. Then no % of me is out there to be judged.

There’s work I should be doing. I was just thinking about those statistics and how things can get messed up so quickly online.