I have made no bones about the fact that I probably won’t get on FaceBook, because it sounds like a lot of bother and reciprocity. Someone friends you and writes on your wall. Then if you don’t write on their wall or friend them, they feel bad about it or vice versa. FB has a lot more things like that, but though I enjoy Twitter, audio Boo, a game community for blind people called RS Games, and even E-Mail, there are still some of those social networking ups and downs.
The ups are easy. I enjoy following and getting little glimpses into the lives of musicians I admire and even facts about some of my preferred products and the people behind them. Meeting people is another cool thing — particularly when meeting friends of friends I already have come to know and discovering cool similarities. But sometimes those personal connections can lead to the downfalls too.
I’ve blogged about an incident in April in which someone I highly respected sent an e-mail which got back to me saying I was a little strange. I have put that behind me for a couple of reasons, and one was that I still truly like the person and believe in true forgiveness. Secondly, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I truly understood how Twitter worked. I had people complaining about my retweets, and I truly didn’t understand why. I thought that all my followers saw every tweet I sent including replies. How would my followers know what I meant if they didn’t see context? I also saw companies and celebrities retweeting in exactly the same way I was, so I didn’t understand why people saw it as wrong. People told me to reply, but it took a longer conversation to understand that only people who follow both participants of a conversation receive replies — not every follower. I truly think this misunderstanding and my resulting tweets had something to do with the perception I was strange.
In a related incident, I was really upset when I learned someone I had really come to want to know blocked my tweets. I’d enjoyed her audio boos and really felt that despite our differences in lifestyle, we had similarities and could get along beautifully. We met online, because we had several followers in common, and a mutual friend at the time advised me to e-mail her and let her know how I felt. The person who had me blocked truly didn’t know it had happened. she unblocked me and was the one who educated me on Twitter replies.
Those of you who know me understand that if I was a dog, I’d be a Golden Retriever — ready to take the blame for anything wrong in the world
. But like everyone else, I still manage to stick my foot in my mouth and remain oblivious to it until someone tells me. A couple of weeks ago, I did that by writing something on twitter I thought was funny, and when I learned how deeply I offended the parties involved, I did my utmost to apologize. But there’s one thing I’ve learned about some people, especially some I meet online only. I am really disposable to them. We write and we talk on recordings or phone, but their lives will go on just as stellarly if they never speak to me again. Because I met my husband online (and it has worked beautifully for years), I tend to be a lot more loyal about people I meet online and really don’t throw people away if I consider them true friends. Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty of friends outside of cyberspace, but I value the connections I make here too. It’s a hard lesson to learn at forty that even if I like some people, I do one or two things that upset them — even unintentionally, and I’m out of their good graces forever! A cooling down period and Forgiveness are not options, because one or two actions obliterate whatever else I’ve done or whatever relationship we’ve built. I thought that stuff went out with Junior high, but apparently not. It’s the old lesson parents tried to get through to all of us when we admired and wanted to get back into good graces with people who treated us like crap. If people treat you this way, you probably don’t want them as friends. I see things I really admire in them, but I know I’m probably better off moving on. As a mutual friend told me tonight, “you can’t be everyone’s friend” much as I wish otherwise.
A strange thing is happening with the election results of the new board and my term coming to an end. I’ve alluded to the fact that I tried not to take sides in the myriads of conflicts which have plagued this board for the last six months. Sometimes even a tiny gesture in one direction was seen as me taking the other side. I’ve determined that there are people in both factions that I really like and could befriend outside the board. There are things which have happened on the board which make friendship with one or two near to impossible. That saddens me, because if we’d interacted under different circumstances, we really could have built something cool. Others and I have had differences of opinion on the board, and it has strained the relationship outside of the board. I look forward to not having those issues between us anymore. The level of relationship with some will be determined once I’m off the board, and they no longer are required to contact me for board business. The next board is going to have challenges between personalities, work styles, beliefs, etc., but once I’m off this board, I’m a free agent and can associate with most of them or none of them if I want. Part of that will be up to them.
My final two paragraphs deal with something about online interactions I really find complicated. There have been a couple instances in which people want to become friends with me out of pure loneliness, and I’m not compatible. We play a game, or they find me somehow, and suddenly they want e-mails or other messages back and forth, and either I feel I don’t know them well enough yet, or I can tell from their content or profiles that they are too immature, and I truly don’t want to know them. I feel sorry for them, but I really don’t know how to proceed. The last thing I want to do is hurt them, but it’s just so obviously not right.
At least I can easily fend off the people who are single and lonely by saying I’m happily married. I feel sorry for the sad ones who truly are searching for the one. I know I’m not it though, and the sooner I inform them of that, the better. I feel sorry for friends of mine who have to change their screen names in order to get away from sleazy creeps. And Some of them aren’t cautious about it either. One guy — without knowing anything about me — sent me a private message that said “sex”. Whatever!
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)