Ah the internet. Easily Al Gores finest invention (that global warming thing is just too messy). A place where you can be anything (or anyone) you want to be. A place where you can say what's on your mind without fear of reprisal.
Or is it?
Whoever it was that said "a picture is worth a thousand words" had it backwards. A picture captures but a moment in time, and while it may conjure up memories (good or bad) it really doesn't tell a story beyond that. The written word, on the other hand, is far more powerful.
Just as a sportwriters criticism of a player in the newspaper can and often does sway the way an athlete perceives that writer from that point forward, so does what we write on Fan Nation and elsewhere sway the opinions of those who read it, about us. The difference being, we don't get paid to be objective as the sports writers do. Often personal feelings are written, and the send button pushed, before we take the time to review what we wrote and re-think the effect it's going to have on the reader. Afterall, it's the internet, right? It doesn't really matter what we say or how we say it, right?
Wrong, of course.
Just like reading a good book, what we read on the internet influences our thought process, be it fanciful or personal. Say the name Oso to many on Fan Nation and what image immediately comes to mind? A comedic, nice guy polar bear. OK, we all KNOW Oso isn't REALLY a polar bear, but that's the image we have of him. Only on the internet is that possible. What image does the name Cassidy or Ruby Noon cause? Probably very similar images in most peoples mind. Yet entirely different images in the minds of others. So who is right?
I've met many people on Fan Nation I'd call "friends" with full sincerity though I've never met them in person, never talked to them on the phone, never had any contact with them other than written words. There are likewise a few who I have an emotional dislike for, based solely on their written words. Some who didn't care for me at first have become close friends. One or two who I was extremely close to ended up hating my guts. And I've certainly had my share of regrets, as I think we all do, when we do something to screw up a friendship be it on Fan Nation or in real life. Sometimes the two are almost indistinguishable.
I guess the moral of this blog is to say what we mean, but do it the same way we would if the person/people we are addressing were sitting in audience with us face to face. It's too easy to express anger over the internet and too difficult to express remorse. You can't make a sincere apology over the net as you can in real life. If you have a blowout with a friend in real life, the ensuing apology will sound heartfelt, the tone and inflection will reflect your sincerity. Those things are missing with mere typed words where the reader determines the tone and inflection, and when they are already upset with you, they aren't going to be determining them in a positive way.