Tim Berners-Lee has expressed sadness that the web has mirrored the dark side of humanity, as well as enabling its “wonderful side” to flourish.
The developer, who created the web in 1990 while working for the particle collider project Cern in Switzerland, said that the web is a reflection of human nature elsewhere, but that he had hoped “that the web would provide tools and fora and new ways of communicating that would break down national barriers and allow us to just get to a better global understanding.
The above quote is taken from this article: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/24/tim-berners-lee-hateful-people-on-the-web-are-staggering
Unfortunately, I agree with Mr. Berners-Lee.
A long time ago I realized that my moods were enhanced or depressed because of my environment. I’m a mimic when I’m around people with accents. The same is true of moods. When I’m with upbeat people, I feel upbeat. When I’m around Debby Downer, my mood turns south.
I have a suspicion that a lot of us are this way, but I’m not sure. It might just be me.
When I was in the corporate world, I began avoiding people who were downers, unless I had to deal with them directly. Then, whenever I had to see them or go into a meeting, I would envision myself in a clear plexiglass shield, like a toothpaste tube. None of their toxicity could wear off on me. I wouldn’t absorb anything from them.
Gradually, I found myself doing the same thing with television, and it’s something I have to monitor all the time. I’ll get on kicks then realize I’m watching all vet shows and seeing entirely too many castrations. Lately, I’ve been on a true crime marathon. I must have recorded two dozen shows about murder, mayhem, dead bodies, crime, and the dark side of human nature. I decided that it was a bit much and deleted all of the shows without watching them.
For the last three years I’ve been doing the same thing on the web. There’s a lot of vitriol out there, and most of it is toxic. Although I’ve found myself fascinated with a certain publisher’s law suit against a certain blogger, and a certain idiot writer talking about how she stalked a reviewer, these stories are damaging to the psyche. Absorb enough of that stuff into your mind and it’s hard to have an upbeat, positive attitude. Same thing with political sites. How many dozens of comments spewing obscenities and nastiness can you read before thinking your fellow man has become a troglodyte?
I don’t participate in author or other forums. I don’t want to hear whining or complaining or Chicken Little pronouncements that the world is about to end. I used to visit an aggregator blog featuring publishing news, but I’ve limited my visits recently because it’s descended into an “indie” vs “traditionally published” author site or anti-Amazon vs pro-Amazon talk and attendant whining or blistering remarks.
I don’t read Twitter. I post on it – my “Today I’m grateful for…” tweets and silly jokes. I don’t read Twitter streams. My interaction on social media is limited. I allow myself two hours per week for all social media. That’s it. The only place where I don’t put a time limit on myself is my website and the Warm Fuzzies blog.
I almost never go on blogs that discuss books, reviews, or reading. If I have a blog tour, I’ll visit, but I’ll assess the site first. Is this going to be a “safe” site? Or one that I should avoid at all costs? I don’t visit Goodreads. I have my blog set up to feed there, and I’ll maintain my author portal from time to time, but I never read comments, accept friend requests, or bounce from reviewer to reviewer. There are certain blogs – some of which have been in the news lately – that I never, ever visit because I labeled them as toxic almost from the beginning.
Now, lest you think I’m some sort of passive creature who believes in love, light, fairy dust, and unicorns, let me tell you something about me. People who’ve read the Warm Fuzzies blog for a while already know this: I’m extremely passionate in my beliefs. I have opinions about almost everything, but I also feel that some places on the web ought to be safe zones. I’ve tried to make Warm Fuzzies one of those safe zones. By doing that, I’ve probably limited my blog traffic because, let’s face it, you get more visitors when you’re controversial. I was the victim of a flame war about five years ago and I never, ever want to experience that again. Granted, my traffic went through the roof. So did my blood pressure.
I don’t want to fill the Warm Fuzzies blog with click bait articles and frankly, my antennae start to quiver when I see these passionate, vehement blog posts about one side or the other of a current debate. Why are people fanning the flames? Why do they feel it necessary to add their two cents? For popularity? For notoriety? Yes, I could expound on the topics I mentioned above. I have decided opinions about them. I could list, by author, some of the really bad books I’ve read lately. I could tell you about the writers who’ve gone out of their way to be rude to me. I could whine about the ghastly, ad hominem, reviews I’ve received.
But what kind of feeling would you take away? What kind of mood would you be in, leaving Warm Fuzzies?
Words mean things. Thoughts give birth to words. Can people spew venom for 500 words on a blog and then turn around and be upbeat and positive? Can they criticize and condemn on one hand and be kind and compassionate in the next moment? I don’t think so. I know I can’t.
I have to make choices, each day, about what kind of person I am. Sometimes, I slip. Sometimes, I screw up and I’m not the person I want to be. But I can always try to be better. That’s why, when I’m snarky, I warn you. You can choose to avoid that day’s post. If something enrages me, book-wise, I’ll never tell the name of the book or the author. I’ll never discuss politics or religion. Can’t say the same about sex. I’ll always try to find something upbeat, even if it’s just a post about Flash. Hopefully, I won’t whine. Most of the time I catch those posts and delete them. But if I don’t discuss something in the news or the hive mentality around the net, you’ll know why. Either it doesn’t fit in with my “safe zone” requirements, or it would put me (and you) in a bad mood.
I truly believe that what you say, what you think, and how you act are influenced by what you take in, what you accept into your mind. I want you to feel good when you leave the Warm Fuzzies blog. Not depressed. Not angry. Not sad. Not annoyed. Okay, I might not always achieve that goal, but I should at least try.