AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

Are you an AmeriCAN or an AmeriCAN'T?

The Power of the Internets!

Heh, I just have to laugh. I still find it hilarious that people think they “know” other people, simply from comments they post on a blog or a blog they post themselves.

I can still remember some chick coming into my old MySpace blog and commenting on a blog I wrote about abortion. She commented that she read that post and then skimmed the posts I had up in the topic “Love and Relationships” and, from that, made a determination that I was “the most insensitive and most pathetic excuse for a man I have ever come across!”. Nevermind that she had never met me. Nevermind that she hadn’t even spoken to me. None of that mattered. Nope. She just knew all about me from one blog post on abortion and a few more on “love and relationships”.

Oy.

This really seems to be a common problem among people today: assuming they know all about someone simply from a few blog postings or comments on a website. Or, going further, people thinking they know someone based on ‘dating’ them ‘online’ through IMs and e-mails and sometimes through phone calls.

Seriously, if I were to judge people simply by comments they made on blogs and comment threads or their Twitter or their Facebook, my gosh. This is especially dangerous with all the people out there who put on fake online personas or who just flat out lie about who they are online, since they know they are protected by the anonymity of the internet.

I used to believe that since I was ‘normal’ and online, then that must be the ‘norm’ for people online. There must be lots more people like me out there, who are just average people looking to waste some time talking about one topic or another, from politics to religion to relationships. Not everyone uses the internet to play games and use fake personalities. Right?

Wrong-o!

Learned that the hard way a long time ago.

So that said, I still get a laugh whenever people with whom I converse online think they “know” me — in either a good way or a bad way — based simply from our correspondence online. It never seems to cross people’s minds that what people share of themselves online is not what makes up all of that person.

But whatever. I guess it gives people a nice personal satisfaction to judge others, based on little to no information, only that which I choose to share publicly. The internets just gives some people some amazing powers, huh?!

The assumptions about romantic relationships is really the big one that I don’t get about people.  Do people honestly believe that what someone says online or in IM chats or on the phone truly is the same window into their personality and interpersonal relationship skills as… actually spending time with them… in person?

And then there are the discussions about a ‘bad’ relationship.  One party will explain their side of the story to others online and then ask for feedback.  Then everyone will jump to conclusions based on the few sentence biased explanation of the situation and give their opinions on it.  Nevermind context, nevermind hearing the other person’s side.  Nevermind that it could just be a small misunderstanding being blown out of proportion.  Nope, what that one person says — their biased and probably emotionally charged opinion — is taken as the official story and then all the relationship gurus jump into action to help their ‘friend’.  Most of the time, of course, the party telling the story is never thought to be at fault, because, how could they be?  They’re our friend!  The other person must be at fault and all suggestions will be given with that premise in mind.

I just shake my head whenever I see this.  I can’t understand the assumptions people jump to with anonymous strangers online and giving them the benefit of the doubt for no good reason, other than just assuming they are good people based on their limited contact with them online.  For all they know, the rest of this person’s time away from the computer is spent being a complete asshole to everyone with whom they come into contact.  Or maybe the complete opposite… maybe the person comes across brash and rude online for whatever reason, but, in real life, they are charming and kind.

Either way, without spending quality time with someone over an extended time period, I don’t understand the assumptions to which people jump online.  I can still remember my surprise in college when I found out my roommate and best friend was a big time jerk and pervert when it came to dating.  I had roomed with him in the residence hall for 2 years and during that time he hadn’t dated anyone, so I never knew what he was like with a girlfriend.  It wasn’t until we moved to an apartment with two of his other friends and he started dating his friend’s younger sister that I found out about his jerkiness.  Which, as I said, came as a complete shock to me.  He was the best friend anyone could ask for.  Hard worker in class and a great study group partner.  If you needed a favor, he’d drop everything to help.  Just all around great guy.  So when his girlfriend came to my room to talk about his behavior with her, I was thrown for a loop.  I couldn’t believe how a guy who was just such a great person in every other area of his life acted the complete opposite when dating someone.

But, that’s what happens when you hang around people long enough.  In person anyway.

It’s actually similar to people’s celebrity-worship. Just take Tiger Woods for example.  Up until a week or two ago, for all any of us knew, Tiger was a family man with a nice wife and kids, living a quiet life.  We saw him in commercials, we saw him in interviews, we saw him on the golf course, we saw… only as much of him as he allowed us to see.  He did this (1) for privacy, most likely and (2) in order to present a certain ‘image’ to the public.  But this image does not tell the whole story.

The same thing happens online.  People only share with you that which they are willing to let you know.  From that, people are, of course, free to make assumptions about who they think they are and what they think they are like.  But, really, people should learn a lesson from the Tiger situation:  don’t make assumptions about someone overall without knowing the full story.

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December 8, 2009 , 11:35PM - Posted by | Life, Relationships

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