I recently wrote a blog about how someone in my life objected to something I wrote in this blog (thankfully that issue seems to have been resolved.) I’d expected someone to eventually take issue with the way I portrayed them or their loved ones in this blog. Previously someone insulted me in a nasty manner because of opinions I expressed on this blog. I’d expected that to happen too. What I did not expect to happen was for a Facebook friend to publicly chastise me for posting a blog that had absolutely nothing to do with them but that’s exactly what a former Facebook friend of mine we’ll call Dick decided to do yesterday.
The day before yesterday I posted a Facebook status about a certain difficult situation I’ve been facing in my life. Dick responded to my status by chastising me for posting about the situation on Facebook and for writing a blog related to the situation a little over a month ago because he felt that posting about the situation could potentially have negative consequences. I did not want to deal with any more obnoxious comments from Dick on that status and I decided better safe than sorry so I deleted the status and adjusted the privacy settings on the blog he referenced.
Dick just couldn’t let it go though. The next day he posts a status saying that you do not own what you post on Facebook and that you should not post anything on your wall that you would not yell at the top of your lungs in a lunch room. He also says that you should not delete anything you post on Facebook or on your blog because attempting to cover your tracks by deleting makes you look bad, it does not wipe all traces of your post from the internet and that people who want to find the information can still find it if they know where to look. He mentioned that he had searched for a recently deleted WordPress post and had found it through the internet archives.
Dick is certainly entitled to his opinion and if that’s the standard he wants to hold for his own internet postings that is fine. That is not the standard I hold for my internet postings though. I post plenty of stuff on the internet that I would not scream at the top of my lungs in a lunch room and I do not feel bad about doing so. I occasionally delete things I’ve posted. I feel it is my right to do so and I feel that sometimes it is the best choice for me and for other people. I realize that deleting my posts does not necessarily delete all traces of them from the internet and that determined stalkers will still be able to find them but deleting posts makes it a lot harder for the general public to find them.
The problem is that Dick seems to think he has the right to dictate what other people post on their own blogs and Facebook pages. Dick seems to think that his word is law, his opinion is a universal truth and that anyone who does not post according to his standards is wrong and worthy of scorn.
His status did not mention me by name but it seemed obvious that he was referring to me. When I asked him if his status referred to me he confirmed that it did. I replied that I found it rather rude and creepy of him to write a passive aggressive status announcing that he was stalking my blog. He then proceeded to reveal the details of the situation I’d posted about on my blog and Facebook on his own wall. The fact that he did that shows that he really was not at all concerned about the potential negative consequences revealing my situation on the internet would have for me or anyone else.
Then he gave me a condescending lecture about how he’s right and I’m wrong complete with ridiculous, nonsensical reasoning that shows how overinflated his ego is. Apparently he has the ability to read my mind and knows that me deleting anything is an admission of my guilt. He also knows that the entire world and all of Facebook would agree that he’s right and I’m wrong. He threw in some references as to how the law was on his side and how I was responsible for all reactions people have to my writing.
I had no idea the world and Facebook had one unanimous opinion and that that opinion is that Dick is always right. People delete things all the time for reasons that have nothing to do with guilt. I do not agree that a writer is responsible for all the reactions others have to their writing. There are a lot of crazy people out there and people can have all kinds of bizarre reactions that the writer could never have anticipated. The reactions people have to the writing of others are not always fair or justified. The actions people take as a result of the writing they have read are not to be entirely blamed on the writer. The reader shares at least some of the blame.
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t exercise some caution and discretion when it comes to the details you reveal online. If someone is genuinely concerned for you or someone else, I do not think it is out of line for them to suggest that you not post about certain situations or limit the details you share. However, when someone is not genuinely concerned about you, when they are just concern trolling you for the sake of being arrogant and judgmental in an effort to make themselves feel superior, that rubs me the wrong way.
If that blog or that Facebook post do get me in trouble I’m about 95% sure it will be because Dick himself tried to stir up drama over it and cause trouble for me. He would be responsible for that but I’m not sure Dick is capable of taking responsibility for his actions or admitting he did anything wrong.
Dick and I exchanged some harsh words. Then his friends showed up to say they were getting out their popcorn. I did not want to be a source of entertainment for Dick’s friends so I said my final words, bowed out of the conversation and blocked Dick. Dick is clearly invested in stalking me across the internet and judging the things I post so he may find a way to stalk my profile despite being blocked but at least I won’t have to look at his obnoxious comments on Facebook anymore.
I have no doubt that Dick is continuing to read this blog and continuing to judge me for the things I choose to post. He may be posting negative things about me somewhere on the internet but what he thinks of me is none of my business at this point.
A lot of people tell me I’m brave for posting the things I do on this blog. I imagine a lot of people think I’m stupid for posting the things that I do. Sometimes the line between bravery and stupidity is a fine one. I’m guessing about 90% of what I post on my blog is generally considered inadvisable to post on a public blog and it’s certainly not anything I’d yell at the top of my lungs in a lunch room. I realize that I’m putting myself at risk with some of the things I post and that some of the things I reveal may result in negative consequences for me. I’ve also seen and imagined the actual and potential positive effects this blog has or could have on myself and others. I’ve decided the risk is worth it. Only I get to make that call. No one else does.
Sometimes I may delete things I’ve posted. That doesn’t necessarily mean I feel guilty about the things I posted or that I regret posting them in the first place. If I do actually feel guilty or regretful about posting something, I maintain that deleting is the right thing to do.
I’m sick to death of feeling like I have to defend the things I choose to post on the internet but the truth is I don’t have to defend myself and I don’t owe anyone an explanation or justification for posting, not posting or deleting anything. I just feel compelled to defend myself when I’m attacked or criticized by the dicks of the internet. However, I realize that arguing with them about what I shouldn’t or shouldn’t post or delete on the internet is as much of a waste of my time and energy as them trying to dictate what other people post is a waste of theirs.