“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed.” – Terence McKenna
I think it surprises some people how quiet and reserved I am when they first meet me, particularly if they were Facebook friends with me first. I sometimes fear my introverted nature may actually come off as stuck up or something, but the truth is that I just am not comfortable in person when I first meet most people (I’ve actually noticed a “three day rule” where I am not truly comfortable with someone until I’ve interacted with them meaningfully three times). That is very different from my online presence where I tend to very openly share my views and activities, even things that most people would likely keep secret. I’ve been thinking a bit about why I am so open online, I hate to admit it but I think a lot of it has to do with other people.
First, being open online allows me to let my thoughts known in a comfortable atmosphere. Whether I am sharing sex-positive links, thoughts on drug use, polyamorist and open relationship experiences, or anarchist memes it is relatively harmless to put them online. The internet is a place where I won’t need to see any discomfort I make others feel, which is really my greatest fear. Rejection does not scare nearly as much as the idea that I made someone else uncomfortable.
Secondly, online forums allow me signal to similar people that I exist and am an ally. I have had several experiences where people have approached me online or in person to discuss issues that I have posted on Facebook. This has allowed people to more comfortable approach me to discuss sex, drugs, polyamory, or libertarianism and how our society portrays each of these. The dialogues have advanced into deep conversations and shared stories that would not have happened without a willingness to share my thoughts and not hide behind social norms. The willingness to challenge has built communities.
Lastly, it just feels right. It feels like I am being true to myself when I don’t try to be one person in public and another person in private. I can’t imagine the internal stress that would come from trying to keep up a facade like that. Being open online also allows me to bypass small-talk (which I find exhausting) and filter out negative people, in the same way it attracts like-minded individuals it also shields me from those who would put me down for my peaceful choices. I have an amazing network of friends who love me for who I am. I am very thankful to live in a time when billions of people can connect and there is always someone a mouse-click away that feels similarly. The world isn’t perfect but we live in a time when people have more ability to be true to themselves than ever before.