Monkeys at a feast. In ways it reminds me of humans on the information superhighway.
It's astonishing the ways online environments have replaced real ones in terms of time spent in various degrees, for various purposes.
In the past year I learned a lot about the virtual experience. On the plus side, there are some people who over time have shown themselves to be rather wonderful people in my life, though I do not know them "in person". On the minus side (but not really for all things learned lead to some sort of hoped-for wisdom) there are some people or environments which (just as in real life) have proved to be toxic in my life.
The toxic in life always startles me. Intellectually I'm ready for it but nevertheless there is always an element of surprise, emotionally. One never wants to see the toxic, of course.
The great thing is that when one departs from a place or person that is toxic the feeling of possibilities increase as if by magic. And of course in reality the possibilities increase too, for there is no longer a struggle of the confusion wrought not by good fairies but rather by imps.
I recently read a post by a new member of a website (or rather the website prefers to be called a "Society" actually) a few weeks ago and it made me laugh aloud. It was this new member's first post and though they noted that they dared to do it in order to contribute their thoughts to the topic, nonetheless they somehow felt "guilty" just for noting their thoughts, and that this had never occurred at any other site, and they could not really put their finger on the "why" of it.
So often I had felt the same way when participating in this "Society". Being versed in management I often wondered how this could happen (for it not only happened to me but to other people I knew and more than a handful of them too).
Was it an operational flaw? Lack of management structure or accountability? Was it due to the fact that there was no real pay given to management types but rather there was the coin of ego boost attached to title given, the feeling of being part of the powerful (sic) in-group, the bonus of having their essays printed in the literary section of the site? (All good things but not in the real world equating to the variety of professionalism granted when compensation by real money is given for a job done.)
Or was it due to the leader?
I've developed a thesis by watching things over the years: The priest makes the church. The rituals are important, the structure is required - the supporting cast necessary, too - but the final tone of the place is set by the priest or leader.
Why did this person new to the site feel guilty? Why have so many other people been made to feel quite odd and uncomfortable when they do not feel so at other places?
I don't have an answer to that. And can't really find one that satisfies me, for the Society I speak of (or the website anyway, which has named itself a Society), although seemingly transparent in all things operational is in reality opaquely transparent in all things operational. One might think a lawyer designed it.
And goodness knows what lies at the hearts of things lawyers design.
There are so many other environments, though. Near, far, and virtual. I'm pleased to have found that there are no new members posting of feelings of guilt in any of them I've noticed so far.
I feel like a new woman, having emigrated from a place where I often felt quite uncomfortable.
In the new year to come, if you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, do consider yourself . . . consider what contribution your own acts may have conspired to have this be so. But do also consider your environment.
Some can be toxic.
If we are to be monkeys at the feast let's be sure the food is to our tastes. If not, search out another table. Good tastes are waiting, somewhere.