smileytraveler

Whirling Thoughts Pt. 2

Ok, can't 100% remember what point I was trying to make yesterday. That's the beauty and the heartbreak of the muse. When she visits, you must seize the opportunity to write – once she leaves you, the thought might be lost forever.

There was a point, though, swear! Something about the wider internet grouping me into two camps: the “anonymous” camp and the “real identity” camp and how both of these are dangerous to great writing, even for non-writers.

In a perfect creative world, there's a third option, hiding somewhere in the middle. (This really has nothing to do with travel adventures, just something I was thinking about.)

In the last few years I've found myself thinking, why on earth is the internet so shitty? Is it me? Is it because I'm not reading the right people? If so, where do I find them? It's not easy. When I find an author/thinker who blows my mind I frantically add them to my RSS feed, somehow afraid they'll get away.

When the “real identity” internet took off – social media and the like – it was pretty cool, I guess. There most certainly is a place for it. But the more time I spent on these sites, the more boring and vacuous I found the ideas/posts. For a time, I forced myself to participate because...I don't know. But the stuff people share when their real-world identity is on the line tends to lean safe. Boring. Overly polished. Kind of like idle cocktail party chit-chat to avoid disappearing into the corner and being forgotten. Or maybe for attention. I have no idea. I'm someone who shares my professional work on these platforms, which, undoubtedly belongs there. It helps clients who don't know you from a stick on the ground feel more comfortable about hiring a “stranger”.

But, I just can't seem to get addicted to it like I hear people talking about so frequently. Frankly, sometimes it's like torture.

I would love to share my awkward travel stories with family and friends. (I have more than 12 years worth of stories that have never seen the light of day.) But the real-identity internet is just not the place for that. If I had to blend my wacky, adventurer self in with all the stuff I share professionally, 99% of what makes it (I hope) semi-interesting would have to be stripped out, leaving me one more boring, safe, internet person. That's just the way it is.

Then there's the “anonymous” internet, which has more merits than I could possibly list. But this internet has the opposite problem. When people's words aren't tied to a real identity – an identity responsible for those words – they tend to over-share, join mobs, and sometimes act outright disgustingly. It's a one-sided relationship where they get all the benefit of being a jerk, whatever that is, and none of the consequences of real-world harm they do. A system lacking in consequences is an affront to nature. Nowhere else in nature or society can I think of an agreement where I get 100% and you get 0%. (Or less, in this case.)

We need this anonymous internet. While at times dark, it serves to protect dissidents and helps those who need to get stuff off their chests without fear of damaging the reputation responsible for their livelihood and family life.

With Great Freedom Comes Great Responsibility

My dream is an internet where individuals can tell the stories others want to hear in a responsible fashion.

I've always wanted to write a book about my travels. I've found myself in situations where I could only laugh. How the hell did I get myself into this?! But two things have been holding me back. First was the feeling that I couldn't tell “the whole truth” due to the association with my real-world identity. Second is the fact that the longer I wait to write stuff down, the less I'm able to adequately communicate the rage, fear, hilarity, etc. So a “blog” style seems to be the best bet. That's why I love this platform. (Full disclosure: I know the founder of write.as and have witnessed his commitment to internet privacy, which is why I feel confident sharing stuff here I wouldn't elsewhere.) With separate personas and a commitment to truth and real-world respect, I think we could all put some really interesting, helpful, funny shit on the internet for others to enjoy.

Getting out of the habit of over-thinking and editing is so liberating! What kind of art could we make?

Just want to put this out there before continuing the journey of writing and sharing.

I'm not a journalist. I'm not a writer. I'm some schmuck with a computer. None of my stories are fact-checked. I write what I see and what I feel. Everything I'll put here is 100% true, but it's also 100% opinion. If I ever say anything negative it's because that's what my brain spewed out. Lots of times, when I calm down and reflect, I take some of those words back.

Anonymous writers have a huge responsibility, but so do their readers. I can't remember with whom I was speaking or where I was, but an uber-traveler friend told me an interesting thing about communication styles in different cultures. (Probably should have written it down at the time.) Basically, in our culture the responsibility is on the speaker to be understood – to make their words, opinions, and intentions clear so that the recipient can decipher them in the way the speaker intended. In other cultures (again, can't remember which) it's the listener's responsibility to figure out what the speaker's words mean. I thought this was really fascinating, especially in the context of the internet.

Perhaps we're ignoring that some people take it upon themselves to decipher the meaning of our words. Almost like our words don't belong to us anymore.

This essay is getting out of control, so I think it's time to pack it in. I have no idea where I'm going anymore.

I think the original point was why don't I write stuff down? Why don't others write stuff down? Then, as always, my mind wanters into societal, cultural, and sociological theories.

No interesting travel stories in the last couple of days, so that's all I got.