Friday, May 30, 2008

Who Am I and Who Are You?

Recently after some unwanted excitement on a dog forum I'm on I've been doing a lot of thinking about the computer relationships that I have with groups or individuals. In the past I've been a member to up to four dog forums at one time. The first one I was on was about three years ago when I met Julie at Vom Banach and was purchasing a pup from her. She invited me on to this forum where the owner lives in the Netherlands. Cool!! And interesting and international place to chat with other like minded people right? Wrong!!

Within a couple weeks on that forum I started to see patterns in people's behavior. It seemed simple enough to me that this was, in fact, these people's personalities. I was caught off guard at some of the bluntness and down right mean-ness I was witnessing. I felt bad for these people's families!! :( I also noticed something about my own behavior. I was being more blunt to these strangers than I normally would have been. I didn't put much though into it at the time but now I realize I was falling into the "its-ok-to-be-blunt or rude-because-you-are-not-in front-of-these-anonymous-people" trap. Another thing to complicate the entire forum board is that we are talking about a group of dog breeders/trainers/owners. That right there should sent up red flags to the general population, my opinion is that most hard core dog people are a bit 'off'. Ha ha. So the forums are basically anonymous groups of very passionate/opinionated dog nuts. Just the kind of thing most sane people would avoid. But not me.

I've learned a lot about people in this process and also learned some about myself. Some of it not very flattering some of it good. I've learned that I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt more than I should...and then again I also like that part of my personality because I find sometimes giving that person a little "leash" is the correct thing to do. At least if I find out I'm wrong I can still feel OK because I feel good knowing I gave the person a chance. I've also learned that, while I give most people the benifit of the doubt, that I can, on occasion, make harsh snap judgements about others. I don't know why that is...just some people clash so much with my own personality that it's hard not to sometimes. The worst part is that because of the bluntness that goes on on forums is that I've been called out for some of my behavior publicly. In reality my 'behavior' was not terrible, but yes sometimes rude and uncalled for. Another thing is that because of a few posts people make judgments about you that are not true at all, but gosh to they stick!! I'm also guilty of this to a degree. The sad thing is that I know that even my worst opinion of some of these people, in the back of my mind I still save room for the idea that I don't really know them and they probably are not like this in real life, or at least I hope they are not.

There are very few people I've ever known in my entire life that I have a bad opinion of that I do not save room for the possibility that I might have them pegged wrong.

So the question stands: Who Am I and Who Are You? The internet is not the place to decide either of those. I cannot convey the whole of who I am to anyone on the intertnet. Their are far too many variables. Same thing goes for 'You" out there. I cannot find out who you really are as a person. Too many variables. Too many egos. Too many bad days, too many off days, too much venting, too much taken the wrong way, too much trying to kiss butt, too much attempting to be a different "you", too much trying to be the authentic "you" but people don't believe it. Just plain too much.

I prefer real relationships with people. I have my best friend Julie, my very good friend Gisela and others too. These people I regularly see in person or speak with on the phone. They know who I am in real life, not the unreal life of the internet.


Kristie said...

You forget I met my husband on the internet. We talked for over 8 years before meeting in person and he was exactly the person I had been talking to the entire time. I know from much experience that most people are rude, cruel and judgemental whether you meet the on the internet or in real life. You pick who you are friends with in person, the same rule applies on forums or web sites. As for your situation, a different culture puts a totally different view point. Especially The Netherlands...very open to everything and definetly do not think twice about giving you their opinion. (Dated Ruud) But most of the time they mean no harm by it. Also unless you really,really know a have no idea what type of emotion or mood they are in when they type something in a forum. Same with a new friend..some times you can't tell if they are being serious or sarcastic. Takes a while to get to know someone whether in person or on line....either way you have to make an effort to know them or you will never really know them. Get my Point? (:

Jamie B said...

I do get your point entirely. However, my situation is quite different seeing how most of the things I'm talking about have to do with a forum setting where people (most) have agenda's that are not always apparent at first.

Also most of my observations are from an American forum, not the one in the Netherlands, I guess I should make that more clear.

With the cultural barrier from other countries I always made an effort to understand what they were saying. In fact most of the time it was funny rather than mean because things can get so mixed up with the cultural misunderstandings.

Yes, people can be mean and cruel in real life, however I'm pretty good at telling that if I meet someone in person. On the internet it's definately harder to tell someone's personality from their intent. But when you learn their intent is the same as you thought then watch out!

With you and your hubby that is different because neither of you had any agenda's other than getting to know eachother. It was done more on a personal level too. So I do know that you can get to know someone, but only if they are willing to be known.