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I have expressed prior to this, various concerns I have about the internet. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. On one hand it is this potentially tremendous tool to communicate with people all over this country, and the world about basically anything, or everything.

On the other it is increasingly becoming a tool to force some forms of conformity in the world, often through the platform of public shaming or attacks on a person's ability to retain a job.

For many months now--I have been wrestling with myself over this matter.

I think it's obvious by now, that I come with a lot of baggage. It's not necessarily bad stuff, but heavy baggage, experiences that weren't so great, that have tremendously shaped my personality.

I have survived a lot of adverse situations, and lived through a variety of emotional and psychological traumas, and while this has toughened me and made me more resilient, it has also shaped my personality in ways that maybe aren't always things you want to see or hear at the dinner table.

Some people embrace that. They find it refreshing or perhaps intriguing, and others are horrified or even pissed off by these traits. I know you can't please everyone, but at what point does it go beyond that and become far more than just not pleasing everyone, and in fact an act of self destruction.

I stand before everyone here, wrestling with the notion--should I leave my diaries up? Should I take them down? This society is changing so fast, I am not sure where the boundaries are any more for any kind of honest and thoughtful discussion.

I grew up on authors like Margaret Atwood, and Naomi Wolf, and Robert Heinlein, Miss, and Bitch magazines, surrounded by what I felt, at that time, was a writing culture that encouraged emotional rawness as a sign of authenticity. And yet increasingly I see a gap online between that, and what is acceptable for the rest of us. It's no longer a sign of authenticity, but in fact an act of self destruction. A club you lay at the feet of future enemies for their convenience.

It used to be that every post online felt like this adventure, like part of a really great conversation at a big busy bar, and you didn't know what might come of it. You could be shouted down, you could be lifted up, but either way, it was just another form of conversing. It wasn't a big deal back in the day, now it's an enormous deal in a multitude of bad ways.

All those years ago, I treated my e-mail like my telephone. I had no reason not to. And now it's "Never put anything in an e-mail you wouldn't want the world to see..." which in my book ranks right up there with "don't wear a short skirt type advice." Meanwhile even our phone calls are no longer private, our library check-out lists are no longer private, and the public (little brother) is at times worse than the government (big brother).

Even in face to face situations, you could be filmed or recorded at any time with or without your knowledge or consent. So even private real-time conversations aren't necessarily guaranteed.

I am seriously contemplating just going back to hand written journals. To just save all these "gems" that aren't really that important for some poor fool to read long after I am dead. Because this doesn't feel safe, and hasn't felt safe for a while, and I am not talking about the Daily Kos, but the internet in general. All of it.  

There was a time when it was my only outlet for social activity, and now it just feels like I am setting myself up for trouble. It doesn't matter if what I say is heartfelt or funny, or right or wrong, or anything. It just makes me feel vulnerable and unsafe and stressed.

I am incapable of keeping online discussions in the realm of "safe" topics, especially since I am not entirely sure how that line is going to move in the future in this current surveillance state. I am not going to unload my adult humor, and I am opposed to pretending ignorance, even if it might save my professional life.

Our culture has some serious issues it has to deal with, with regards to being online. It needs to hammer out some rules that make sense everywhere all the time, and putting the implied or explicit threat to "be boring or else" isn't reasonable or rational, but I feel like that is the de-fault rule right now.

There used to be a time when you avoided topics like politics, religion and sex at the workplace. Now it increasingly seems to be the case for you online as well. Even if you think you are anonymous which I don't believe anyone truly is any more. Hiding who you are is such a burden.

I feel like I live a double life right now. Will I be discovered! OMG! What will happen to my family? Will people in the regular world still like me? What if I need to get a job and someone finds out what I think about any topic and the boss or the hr person doesn't approve? What if an opinion I held 20 years ago is unpopular? Am I allowed to change my mind? or "evolve"?

I feel like the internet is the tool to "slut shame" anyone, only it's not just about sexual activities (real or imagined) but any topic that can be linked back to a person in real life that can be used to punish them, even if they have broken no laws.

Instead of your diaries and comments here or anywhere being diaries, what if they were instead, you writing about yourself on a bathroom wall? Remember the days when other people did that for you? With the changing culture of the internet, now everything you say or do can be used against you forever.

That stresses me out. and it makes me think that I am only hurting myself and some day, perhaps my family. That my thoughts and reflections aren't important enough to counteract their potentiality of social and professional harm. That in some ways, talking about any controversial thing online is actually more self destructive right now than drinking a 12 pack a day and smoking like a chimney.

Originally posted to GreenMother on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 06:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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