Deciding whether to respond to this open call has not been easy given my ongoing history of being cyber-stalked. A small part of me is afraid that by writing this post my stalkers will go into overkill on me again here and elsewhere. The larger part of me, the one that says I will write what I want, when I want, and how I want, online and elsewhere, wins out. To do otherwise makes me a lesser person. The worst kind of censorship is self-censorship. That doesn't mean that I haven't learned some basic cautionary lessons; lessons that I wish someone had told me about when I was an online neophyte. I have become familiar with the curious, sociopathic mentality of those who pounce on every revelation of someone else’s vulnerability and honesty to twist it to their own ends.
As some of you know, I am blunt to a fault. I say what's on my mind, but rarely is it meant maliciously. I’m being honest, and more often than not, analytical. Only afterward do I stop to think that maybe I could have been more diplomatic and less truthful. But here's the weird thing. When I strive to be diplomatic -- and believe it or not I often do, being an educator has taught me that people respond better to encouragement -- I don’t always sound sincere. I don't lie well, not even when telling socially acceptable white lies. In fact, I'm such a terrible liar that people who know me usually grasp right away that I'm not telling the truth and I’m in even more hot water. Some people at OS have said that I hide behind a nom de plume because I would never say the things I do in person. These are people who do not know me at all because my friends know that I ALWAYS say what I think.
People who don't like hearing the truth almost never like me. That’s OK, because life online or off isn’t a popularity contest. I have enough friends and family who accept me the way I am that I’m finally learning to accept myself. Yet it's so much easier to be in denial and to go along with the flock that I've spent much of my lifetime wondering why I can't do that. I still don't have the answer; I just know it doesn’t work for me. One of the few good things that come with age is a small measure of self-knowledge. There is something in me that cannot be quieted when an injustice is done, or when I disagree about something important, or sometimes when I want a little spirited discussion. But for every time I respond, there are many more times when I don’t. Not all battles are worth fighting. I prefer to joust with people who can debate ideas or information without resorting to personal attacks, and that is rare in cyber space. Then there's my knack of saying what others say, but still attracting the torch and pitchfork crowd. Two extreme examples on OS were when I posted that I didn't care what stupid people thought -- the kind who think man walked with the dinosaurs -- and when I used a John Lennon song title to make a point about feminism. Other bloggers tackled similar topics, some more harshly than me, and received nary a peep of criticism. Go figure.
When I joined OS two years ago I had no idea that I would post about my personal life. People have told me I’m crazy to reveal myself that way, and that I deserve everything that happens as a result, the lack of online civility being what it is. I don’t accept that people have the right to attack me, or my family, but I know that it happens. Exploring what makes me who I am is more important, and I will not be intimidated into silence. Yet I am much more careful now about what information I put out there, which goes against my basic truthful instincts, but is an essential online survival skill for someone of my open nature.
What bothers me the most about my online life is that I do not feel safe enough to blog under my real name. Confession: before I made this emma peel 2 account today, I created another one with my real name. I doubt that I will ever use it. Not because of my cyber stalkers -- they already know my real name -- but because the risks aren't worth the rewards. Even so, what you see here on my blog is what you get, and it will never be sugar coated.