I made a boob recently. I shared the personal information of someone close to me, including some of the most commonly used identifying information. I had a rush of blood to the head, but I should have known better. My justification to myself was that I had limited the distribution list to a select few, but that’s horseshit: The Internet Never Dies. That information will now be there forever.
The fact that the information pertained to my own child makes it all the worse. Causing myself problems due to my own stupidity is perfectly acceptable, and part of the price I pay for being the moron I genuinely am. Willing this stuff on the freshly born is a different kettle of fish altogether.
As time goes on it becomes more and more apparent that anything we share on the internet will be used, first against us, but then against everyone else involved, in an infinite game of pin the sack of shit on the innocent bystander. Whether it be employers looking to find information about their prospective employees or political groups looking to ruin the lives of film and TV personalities, the information we share is the set of weapons with which we will be attacked when we least expect it.
One of the reasons I set this blog up was to have a good old fashioned rant about all sorts of things which get right on my tit ends. I had grown sick of sharing all of that with my nearest and dearest, and I think some of them had become weary of my extended continuing diatribes. The problem was that I understood that to share views, contentious or otherwise, on the internet was to open myself up to the opprobrium of the age we live in. Thankfully I have been spared such attacks so far, but only because this blog is only viewed by a few dozen people. The door is still open for hostility.
The problem is that I am now putting myself in the public eye and asking people to look at me, like the venerable Mr Meeseeks of old. This means that my every comment, my every click, my every published comma, is part of my professional image. If I want to write about my bowel movements or tell off-colour jokes on my twitter feed they are a reflection of my publishing company and this site. I therefore need to restrict such things to my personal social media accounts, but I have to look my friends and family in the eye tomorrow. What I want is to scream in to the faceless void of the web.
Once upon a time I shared a particularly off-coloured “joke” on a personal Facebook account, albeit one where I was friends with most of the people I then shared an office with. I was joking about not being able to make my mind up between murdering all of them in cold blood or killing myself. It was ignored by most, as they knew me well, but one busybody had me dragged in front of the boss so that I could explain whether I was coping or not, and whether I was happy or homicidal. Oopsy!
In actual fact I was neither. I was a person having a bad day and going off on one. It happens. Hell, shit happens, and that’s that. I was neither happy nor sad, because I don’t tend to be, but I was a bit angry, frustrated and in need of the venting of some spleen. That doesn’t work on Facebook.
What I needed, and what I started to hypothesise / daydream / fantasise about was a social media platform where none of the people who were reading it were my friends or my family, and so my wails of anguish could be pure catharsis and not thinly veiled cries for help. The idea bubbled and it grew and it shrank, and it ultimately became this blog. Except that this blog is far from anonymous.
There was a time before all of that, before I was working for a living, when I had a different set of friends – people who did not know me, and so did not appreciate the dissection of my bowel movements and toilet habits which I occasionally like to share with anyone who will listen. They told me off. That taught me a lesson, and so I no longer talk about my bathroom habits on Facebook.
Twitter is a different matter altogether. Twitter is a place where one can set up an account, and it doesn’t matter if you have zero followers; you can prattle on about all that ails you from day one to your heart’s content. I created an email address, and then a Twitter account from where I could tweet about my poo all the live long day. Eventually the novelty wore off, but the itch was scratched.
There was no one to be offended, no one to laugh a little too hard, no parents to wonder what they had done to raise such a scatological monster. In fact there was – and there still is – no one. The account has zero followers, and that is how I like it. I have the freedom to fully express myself, free from the expectation of public opinion. Until some people who hate me dig it up and shame me.
There came a point recently – and that is why I am writing this all down at this juncture – where I wanted to vent about a lot more than just fecal matter. I wanted to vent about people close to me (my partner isn’t a fan of that). I wanted to vent about sadness and loneliness and pain. Again, my partner can put up with a lot of things, but she’s not a fan of that. I wanted to vent about our dogs and I wanted to vent about the world we live in. Twitter, I hear you calling my name once more.
I dusted off my toilet account and rebranded it. I wanted my zeroes of followers to understand the shift in tone I had made after all. I then started to vent. And, my word, did it feel so much better. Yes, I am getting carried away with the new-found opportunities to scream bloody murder, but that will level out in time, I’m sure. Anonymity is a very happy place to get things off one’s chest.
In conclusion, I don’t see how the real Twitter users do it, putting their personal views next to their real names. Yet they do it in droves. I prefer the anonymity of my own ranting, in my own personal bubble of poo and pain. I just don’t think I could stand the attention – or lack of it – otherwise.