To face

My closest friends and my long-time blog readers know something about me: I never shut up. This would be news to every single one of my casual acquaintances and coworkers, all of whom think I am quiet, possibly shy, definitely kind of bitchy.

Social anxiety, man. It’s a big old roadblock in my mouth.

I read this blog, seanrants, regularly, mostly because he is a story-teller. There are not a lot of story-tellers left in blogging who aren’t so focused on mommy-ing that they leave people like me out of the picture. I love kids, I love reading about mommy-ing, I love knowing what’s going on in people’s lives… but I simply can’t relate. I can, on the other hand, relate to Sean’s stories about selling himself short. I have done the same, many times.

But anyway, he wrote this post, which I appreciated for its distillation of some of the internet issues I’ve been rolling around lately.

To wit:

…we have to be careful about what we reveal on social media because it’s a public forum. There are people who bitch about the privacy settings on Facebook… but it’s *public* and you *signed up for it*. It’s like showing up at a party naked and complaining that everyone’s staring at you. And, to further the metaphor, when you’re going to a party you choose what you’re wearing pretty carefully, you want to present yourself in exactly the right way.

Facebook and Twitter make you considerate of what you post before you post it. Email is totally different, you’re just writing to one person. A blog is totally different because there’s a sense that anyone can find it, it’s almost *the point* that you’re speaking to strangers you’ll never have to face. Facebook and Twitter are going out to a LARGE group of people you ostensibly KNOW.

Although I’ve never been able to phrase it with Sean’s clarity, he illuminated the exact problem I have with Facebook and Twitter. I can talk to people I am close to. I can talk to perfect strangers. But those who fall somewhere in between terrify me, somehow, and I have nothing to say to them. I know them well enough to assume they think I’m boring, and not well enough to get over that. Well enough to assume that their arguments are going to be better than mine, but not well enough to actually try having the argument. I don’t mind losing a debate with someone I love – but I feel shame when I can’t match wits with someone I barely know or care about.

And let’s be clear here – I can’t match wits. I might be intelligent, I might be well-read, I might have some deeply-held and well-reasoned opinions about how the world should work, but my mouth will never shape itself to tell those things. And when I try, it never compels the way I wish it would.

For example, this New York Times article about the fact that the Supreme Court will hear a case about (opposing) affirmative action. This sends me spinning off into rant land because OH HELL NO. The institutionalized advantages that white people have are insane, and for this 22-year-old girl to cry foul because she might have gotten a better job if she had gotten into her first choice college is absolutely, direly, 100% unreasonable.

The problem isn’t the girl, though. Not entirely. Yes, someone should have told her at some point that life isn’t entirely fair but also that she doesn’t deserve special treatment just because she feels like she deserves it. It’s all of the people who have used her to further their cause, who have sat down and listened to her and said “yes, you’re right, you are clearly a victim of racism. Now let’s go show those people who’s boss. Who’s boss? WHITE PEOPLE…I mean equality.”

From the article:

Ms. Fisher’s lawyers called [race-conscious admissions] “a newly minted interest in elitism dressed up as ‘intra-racial’ diversity.” They added that the university is making the unseemly pitch for “its preferred kind of minorities” at the expense of white students like Ms. Fisher with similar qualifications.

I can’t even articulate how unacceptable this is, how horrific that we are sliding back into a post-consciousness world. And I don’t mean “we have achieved consciousness of the issues that face us.” I mean “we are no longer interested in attempting to be conscious of the things that limit the goodness of society, and so it’s all about number one, baby.”

And to close the loop… what do these things have to do with each other? Why are Facebook and Twitter and affirmative action all interrelated? In my view, the issue at play is that there are things we do for the good of one and the things we do for the good of many. And the things that we do for the good of many are being attacked, denigrated, destroyed and removed from our world. I see a strong connection between the me-ism of the Facebook world and the me-ism of the Tea Party. I see us failing at humanity, and I wish I knew what to do to help stop it.

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