Normally I try not to pay much attention to comments on my posts or articles. It’s almost impossible to write in the age of the internet and take such things seriously. That way lies madness. But the last few weeks, I’ve felt sensitized to the endless division and judgment that has become so much a part of computer culture. I’m tired, again, of people judging those they’ve never met, of calling names or saying things in public fora that they would never say in person. It feels cowardly and slimy and mean.
We’re all guilty of it to some extent. I’ve done it, too, ranted about the “idiots” who espouse such-and-such opinion. It’s easy to forget that behind every posting is a real person.
Earlier this month I wrote a post for Waldorfish on Michaelmas and what that festival has come to mean to me. I half-laughed with my friend Robyn when we found that my little essay had been posted on an anti-Waldorf/Steiner website. Half-laughed, because you know you’ve made it as a writer when you incur hatred, but even after four years of writing professionally, I’m still not thick-skinned enough to dismiss being judged by people who’ve never met me.
After sitting on it for a week or so, I finally decided this morning to submit a comment to the site, and to invite a dialogue here. I guess we’ll see what happens next.
This, in case anyone is curious, is me taking my sword of courage to my own personal dragon – confrontation. I’m not acting in violence or anger, but with the hope that maybe courage and compassion can transform confrontation to conversation.
Here is my comment:
It’s easy to attach an identity to a byline – to blame, to disagree, to judge. I’ve done it myself. But, the writer is more than her name. Behind every faceless byline on the internet is a real person – with real values, dreams, goals, and feelings. And yes, real flaws, too.
I’m sorry for whatever has happened in the lives of those of you who would question the ethics of a stranger based only on a few paragraphs that you read through your own lens. I can only guess that there is powerful hurt there somewhere, and that makes me sad.
I’m not responding to the criticism of my essay to argue or to try to change minds. Different beliefs and opinions are what make life worthwhile. I’m just here to introduce myself, to put a virtual face to the name whose ethics have been called into question.
I’m not some brainwashed cultist. I’m a mother, a writer, a scientist, a friend, a lover, a runner, a dreamer, a thinker. I have plenty of flaws if you’d like some to criticize. I’m stubborn, klutzy, and sometimes selfish. I procrastinate. I’m a terrible housekeeper. I’m all too apt to hide behind humor. And I’m incredibly awkward at parties.
I’m also practical, idealistic, the most prepared camper you’ll ever meet. I’m a loyal beyond reason to those I love. I can bake birthday cakes in almost any configuration. I’ve been known to quote Shakespeare while performing a Caesarean section on a cow. I think about everything. All of the time. I love – intensely, painfully, and unconditionally.
I believe in working for peace, justice, and acceptance for everyone. Seeing my name equated with eugenics and warmongering hurts. Yes, I’m also sensitive.
You don’t know me. You know only that I wrote about a topic where you have strong feelings. Great. Come discuss them with me. I can’t offer a glass of wine or a cup of tea over the internet, but you’re more than welcome to stop by my blog, read a bit, and share your thoughts. Conversation is so much easier than anonymous anger.