We Are As Present Here As We Are Anywhere

I recently did something social media-wise that I swore I would never do. In fact, I did something that I have even cautioned others never to do.

I keep forgetting my own wisdom to avoid thinking in terms of always and never. It's very confusing wisdom, because it betrays its own rule: Always avoid use of the word "never", and never use the word "always", because nothing is absolute.

Anyway, this thing I did is generally considered very extra not cool when it comes to Twitter, and I felt very extra not cool when I did it.

cat puke
This is a completely unrelated picture of a present one of the cats left for me this morning.

I recently embroiled myself in an internet controversy, which is not at all my normal modus operandi when it comes to my interaction with people on or off the internet. I wasn't entirely comfortable with my reaction, because emotions were high in everyone's corner, and I normally wait until I am calm and distanced somewhat before I write about difficult subjects, but there it was. I'd published it.

I knew that some people would disagree with me and some others would agree with me and some other people would use what I'd written as a springboard to shout about their own, not entirely related, issues, because this is how the internet works sometimes. It can feel like a really crappy party thrown for Nancy Grace impersonators in an interrogation room with no food or drink to soften their guts.

I was expecting that a few people would decide that they didn't like me anymore, and I was okay with that. Usually, if I do something controversial on the internet, just as in offline life, a few people will drop me, because, and I'm only assuming this here, they differ with me too greatly and no longer want to hear what I have to say. That's okay. There are people I have unfollowed and unfriended because I don't want to hear what they have to say. This is life. We just can't like every person that comes into our lives enough to want to have to hear from them every day.

As expected, several people did unfollow on me Twitter, and that was fine, because this is what happens, and it wasn't like these people were my bestest bosom buddies. One unfollower, though, bothered me. She was someone whose weblog I have been reading for years. I've followed her through relationships and pregnancy and tales of her crazy teenage years. And she unfollowed me. Ooph.

I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, and I couldn't let it go, because I knew that her unfollowing had to do with my becoming embroiled in the internet controversy I mentioned earlier, the one about which my reactions had me feeling conflicted. I couldn't stand thinking that my years-long acquaintance with this person, a person I genuinely care for, would end because of something I did that I was not entirely comfortable with, either, and so I did the thing that I have told others to always never do.

I e-mailed her to ask her why she unfollowed me on Twitter.

Seriously. I did that. I tucked my tail between my legs and asked if it was something I had done and could we please talk about it.

One thing I promised myself when I quit drinking last August was that I would no longer allow myself to live under the weight of shame, and part of that promise meant facing situations straight on and asking the hard questions when I felt that familiar burn crawl up the back of my neck. I'm not allowed to hide from it anymore. Hiding is what led me to the bottom of thousands and thousands of pint glasses for over twenty years, and I just can't do go that route. It breaks me down.

I knew I had to go against my own Twitter rule and ask her why, even if it made both of us feel awkward and uncomfortable, which it most definitely did. I had to write the e-mail, because she is someone I respect and admire, and those people are worth the work to keep around.

I am here to report that I am so glad I sent that awkward and uncomfortable e-mail. It forced me to take a closer look at who I am and how I interact and why I do things and what's important. It allowed her and I to share our thoughts about a difficult subject and make some peace with each other. Also, it reminded me that what we do here in the world of social media is not always as broad and shallow as it sometimes appears. What we do here creates roots that reach down deep.

In the interest of self-protection, we can defensively behave as though it's all a mile wide and an inch deep, but, in actuality, we are as present here as we are anywhere. This is who we are, and this is what we have to show for ourselves, and it's worth the work to tend the roots.