I can be in Missouri or Alaska and still have the internet. I blog. I gossip in online groups. I watch YouTube videos about crocheting. I read The New York Times and Dovegreyreader.
But I am not a “social networker.” If there is one thing I know, it’s that people get fired and divorced because of what they write on social networking sites. And even if you don’t say something unforgivable about your boss or your partner, suddenly ex-husbands galore and people you barely remember from college are contacting you.
If we’re not Dovegreyreader, and we’re not, and that’s why we love her so much, we can get into trouble even without social networking. We Americans express ourselves online all the time. According to a consumer survey by Bowker in 2008, Americans spend 15 hours a week online, 2.9 more hours than they spend watching TV.
So is that good or bad? Are people more active online, or just more foolish?
Don’t write anything online that you wouldn’t like everybody in the world to know, right?
Several years ago when email was new to me, I made that mistake. I was a freelancer and used to saying what I thought.
Only someone without a real job would be so idiotic as to complain about her boss in an email, right? But how was I supposed to know it would end up in his mailbox? I had a lot of work and diligently wrote the equivalent of a fluffy nonfiction book every time I wrote an article. I was obviously exploited, yet also smoulderingly hated by the staff writers because I was on their turf, even though they only had to write one article every two weeks and I had to write four or five a week.
So I was blacklisted, even though I apologized.
It was one of those horrible experiences that you don’t wish on anyone. It definitely was not the kind Virgil spoke about:
forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
“Perhaps one day it will be a joy even to remember these things.”
It is still painful to think about.
The good thing about blogging is that we can say what we like. Some people misinterpret our writing, but that happens everywhere. And we are not addressing huge audiences. It’s self-expression.
What is that expression? “Those who can’t do, teach.” And most of us blog.