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monday, january 15, 2001
what and why

my newest piece in eloquence (from yesterday: "at face value") got me to thinking got me to thinking, and i realized something: i have been a bit out of touch with myself. basically, i got lazy about it. not on purpose, of course. it just sorta snuck up on me. and it all began when i met saxy and left school. that may be where it started, but i, in a sense, continued it. i just wasn't paying attention and let it all slip away.

when saxy and i met, he was a real insecure person. most of his relationships dissolved within three months, many times because she got involved with another man. i always a social person, but most my friends were male. saxy knew this, but as our relationship quickly escalated into a more intimate one, he began to get more and more uncomfortable with my male friends, especially the ones i was close to. so he began demanding more of my attention and time, began to give the third degree if he saw me talking to someone (especially male), and so on. eventually to avoid such conflict i began to limit my contact with others, men in particular.

what does this have to do with knowing myself? for me, social contact was and is key to knowing me better. social contact forces me to think about what i believe and why i do what i do. when i backed off from my relationships with others, i began removing what made me think more about the what and why of myself. when i left school, i practically shut the opportunities to grow and learn about myself down.

some would say, what about the net? yes, i have friends on the net, some of whom are very special to me. but net relationships are more transient than rl relationships. and there are obstacles to overcome as well, in particular the lack of tone of voice. when does a statement in a heated discussion become an accusation? we can't tell because there is no tone of voice to help key us in, no body language, and no eye contact. all of these help us determine what the other is saying and whether it is opinion or accusation, whether we are interested or trying to shut the other out, and a myriad of other little things that we need to know when holding any kind of conversation with another person. thus it is easier, after two years or more, to ignore all previous history of contact and decide the other person means something that is not anything close to what they meant at all. and there is nothing but written words to help us determine meaning.

thus the net has its limits. i have had friends who have known me for years on this thing we call the net suddenly decide i was attacking them or saying they were totally in the wrong when i was just voicing my opinion. i have had others lump me into a group of people and make decisions on our friendship based on that one association. yes, this does happen in rl, but in rl we can actually LOOK at the other person, HEAR the tone of voice, and decide what that person really means just because it is more than words that we use to determine meaning.

so the net may force me to try to be more concise and careful with word usage, but it will not necessarily help me to know what i think and feel or why. if anything, the focus on choosing words more carefully may detract from being in touch with the whats and whys. and it also may make us more inhibited since we are all at least subconsciously aware that our words can easily be misconstrued to be something they are not.

in the end, i have spent the last 18 months almost completely on the net. trying to be who i am, but losing touch with that inner part of me that helps me understand the what and why. i now find being with friends in rl almost uncomfortable sometimes. people LOOKING at me while we are talking makes me look away. up until now i have NEVER before been like this. and i don't like it. at the same time, reducing my time on the net is HARD. the net makes it easy. messages are just words. we don't have to be in touch with the what and why anymore, because it is all just words.

this is going to change for me. i am going to get back into the why and what of me, my inner self. i am removing the mask of the net. i will be here, but not as much. i will place more of a priority on the rl interactions that help me become more me. time to come out of the cave.

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