Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Online Personas

AOL's message boards are just providing me with oodles of things to blog about here. heh.

There are some folks there -- no surprise to anyone who's ever been on a message board, anywhere -- who are trolls and easily ignored (or ridiculed, if that's your thing). But there are a few people I apparently rub the wrong way. No one rubs me the wrong way, anymore, because I learned in the last couple of years to let the barbs roll off me. I came to realize it really isn't personal, they don't really know me. ME, the person my hubby, family, and friends know. And as I said here previously, there's a lot of variety in the real me folks know.

So one of these people, perhaps thinking I don't sometimes lurk on one of the writers boards -- reasonable assumption, given that I have hardly ever posted there and not in the last few years -- said she was thinking of filtering me (an option on AOL to block listed posters from appearing in the listing of new posts). It seems I drive her up a wall. Geez, why can't she just click next when my posts come up, which is what I mostly do with hers after scanning the first couple of sentences to see if she has anything remotely interesting to say -- a rare occurrence. But she's a curmudgeon, not a troll, in my opinion, and occasionally is entertaining. So I just posted, yes, please filter me.

Apparently, my saying I'm shy in real life is one of the things transporting her up that cyber wall. She thinks she knows me. She thinks I take over, I imagine. Nevermind, that I've backed off my posting considerably, partly because I felt I needed to back off and partly because I got so involved with blogging and my science fiction novel in progress. Now, bear in mind that this person had real issues with me because I loved all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and of Angel, if I'm remebering correctly. Okay, no one ever said message boards are the bastions of maturity.

So, I thought I'd say something here about my shyness. I was always shy. And a loner. I would happily entertain myself for hours on end while I was growing up, reading and playing with my toys and writing once I got into my teens. I had a few friends, including one whose superior attitude made her kind of friendless and therefore more than willing to be my best friend and to let me be hers. I excelled at the role of best friend.

When I'm with people I know and am comfortable with, I can be lively and extroverted and no one would think I'm shy. Until I feel things getting into areas that bore me, and then I retreat to a corner to wait it all out. I don't make small talk well. I don't mix or mingle well. And throw me in a group of mostly strangers and I spend most of my time trying to figure out what to do with my hands -- eating usually is the solution. I can overeat at weddings and social functions because it's all I can do well in those situations, usually.

But online? Being online is liberating. There's no audience in front of me. I know intellectually that people might read my words. And as I see the count go up and those aren't hits from me visiting my blogs, I know folks are reading. But that audience isn't in front of me and it isn't there as I type. I don't visit chat rooms, because I can't keep up with more than one or two folks posting at a time, but also because it is more immediate and I wouldn't have any time to mull over my words.

I suppose I enjoy writing for that reason. I'm postponing the audience reaction to sometime after the piece is finished. I got stage fright just thinking about auditioning for school plays. Once I was a prompter and one of the cast accidentally pulled back the curtain and there I was, facing an auditorium full of my fellow 7th graders. I could have let the ham in me perform, maybe dance a jig, then curtsy, but I didn't. I panicked and ran. I like to think if that happened to me now, I'd dance that jig because I'm no longer that painfully shy kid who wore glasses since she was 3 years old and was teased unmercifully. I'm still shy, but not that bad, anymore. Or so I think.

Here in cyberland, I'm dancing that jig.