Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me...
I too go on-line. Obviously. For a variety of things. And as a result I've met some wonderful folks who have positively contributed to my life. People I might never have come to know otherwise. People with whom I enjoy spending real time in real life as well as in cyberspace.
I've also chatted with some folks that I wish I had never met in the first place. People who have been dishonest, rude and even abusive. People who have left me feeling hurt, angry, used and confused. People never cease to disappoint me.
It's hard work separating the wheat from the chaff. Yet I still go on-line. Trusting. Hoping to find other decent, civilized people to enrich my life. To teach me. Share with me. Enjoy with me. Grow with me. But really, this is no different on-line than it is in real time. At least for me it's not.
The thing is, in real life, when most relationships end, whatever the type, it is usually awkward. Uncomfortable. Frequently painful. Sometimes with tears. In cyber life though, the end of any relationship is only a click away. But that doesn't mean it hurts any less. People tend to forget that it's a human being on the other end. With flesh and blood. With feelings.
People act very differently when they are faceless. Nameless. Rudeness and hatred abound. I've found that in cyber life, people quickly and easily dispense with the pleasantries and etiquette that dictate the behaviors of a polite society. People do and say things on-line of which they would be mortified if they were observed by their mothers, great-aunts, or pastor's wives. Or at least they Should Be.
Conversations are no longer comprised of words strung together to form sentences but merely reduced to a few letters on the screen. "How RU", "A/S/L plz", "C U L8R" Oh, how I hate it.
From behind the anonymity of a pseudonym or avatar, people feel the right to ask intimately personal questions. "How much do you weigh?" "How big are your breasts?" "How much money do you make?" I don't even tell that to my real-life friends.
Or harshly condemn and criticize. Just read any bulletin board on line for examples of this... Civilized behavior is tossed out with the bathwater. Common decency goes out the door.
And then as quickly as the chats begin, some folks will simply stop talking with you. Abruptly. Leaving you. Without a good-bye. Only to wonder. What the hell just happened here?
But not me. I am not like that.
Who I am on-line is exactly who I am in real-life. Here I am, read all about me. WYSIWYG. I say what I mean and mean what I say. I present myself honestly, warts and all. And, I try to say good-bye when it's over. Even when it ends with just a click.
My expectations are that others will be the same way. Do the same thing. But they are not. Logically, I know they do not. Yet, I am always getting hurt. I am forever disappointed.
Speaking of disappointments. Here's to one of my most recent:
It was nice to chat with you. Meet with you. Be with you.
I found you attractive, intelligent, witty, and fun. I enjoyed your company. I felt fortunate to have discovered another person with attributes such as yours with whom to talk, commiserate, laugh, hang out. On-line and off. From your words and especially your actions, I thought you felt similarly. "Chemistry?" you said. And then "LOL".
No genuine relationship had developed, I know that. And it was all so quick, moving from on-line to real time, I understand that too. I had very few expectations. But still was hopeful... "When can I see you" you wrote. "When you going to come give me some kisses at lunch???" and "can't wait to see you again." "LOL"
(Were these messages even meant for me I now wonder? Hmmmmm.)
I am confused. And hurt. You stopped talking with me. And I don't know why. What changed?
Almost daily I would see you on line and I know you saw me. Sometimes, you'd quickly sign off. Not even a hello. And there were times when we did chat you'd abruptly leave. Some of your endearing quirks? or was I just too slow to catch on?
I realize that you have lots of work involving long hours. I understand the amount of traveling you do and obligations you have. Truly. I do. I have a full life with responsibilities of my own.
I would have thought that if you no longer desired my company, on-line or off, you could have come right out and told me. You should have written it if you could not do it to face to face. "There is no chemistry" you might have typed. Something. Anything. And thrown in the appropriate emoticon. Softened the blow with a "LOL". It's only common decency to let me know. Tell me. Not leave me hanging. Wondering "did I do something wrong?"
Or is it because we met on-line you felt there was no need for a good-bye? Avoiding explanations. Hurt feelings. Or potential animosity. Or worse, tears. No harm, no foul? No regrets?
Oops. Too bad, so sad.
Actually, I had expected that once a conversation moves from on-line to real life, one would really be considerate of the feelings of the flesh and blood person on the other end. At least that's what I had hoped. What I am due. Human being. Civilized behavior. Common decency and all.
I wish you could tell me. Would tell me. Still. What the hell just happened here?
I'm an adult. I can handle the truth. I merit that much. In fact, I deserve better. Even more. As a person in real life. As a living, breathing, feeling woman. As a human being, in general.
Don't worry though. I've been here before. I won't bother you again. It's not my style. That's not who I am. On-line or off.
I just wanted to say this final thing. To you. And to anyone else this shoe might fit. For the next time. The next person. Please be sure to tell them good-bye. And if you can, tell them why. No matter how hard it is to say. Don't leave them hanging. Wondering. Tell them. Even if it disappoints them. It's the decent thing to do.
Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasel.