And I Wrote This Book.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dear Virtual People: An Open Letter to Cyberspace


Dear Virtual People, and by this I mean anyone who’s ever tweeted, re-tweeted, favorited; facebook statused, liked, poked or tagged; blogged, followed, or commented; and anyone who’s ever operated or considered operating any  device through which to access cyberspace,

Let’s talk. Then again, you probably don’t want to. Most Virtual People don’t roam about cyberspace to engage in the art of discourse - excepting the warmhearted blog community that invests with earnest in human connection. This is rare. That’s the problem, and it’s monstrous: the rapid pace at which we’re blasted by bits of news or inanity, much of which propels us further from humanity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with meaningless shards launched through cyberspace. In fact, I’m responsible for some of it (e.g., my recent tweet series “originating” from Snooki’s fetus, poor thing). I believe in mocking the world’s idiots - especially those earning millions for being themselves. Deny it or not, life is really tough for most. And we could use regular doses of hearty laughter. So, why not at the expense of those who can afford it (and the country of Belize)?

Pure hatred, though, has no place here nor anywhere.  Last week I saw a tweet that paired Jews and ovens in the same message, with seeming levity. I was sickened to a point of tears. I’d previously followed this twitterer without pause; he seemed funny. In the few seconds it took me to message and then un-follow him, his fan base shot from 6,496 to 6,500. I find this highly disturbing. Hate spreads like wildfire, even faster when propelled by the social media AND disguised as lighthearted banter.  

Listen, Virtual People, we are the privileged few; only 25% of the world’s population has access to the Internet.  Let’s use this privilege for good and not evil. Towards that end, I’m setting some rules:

DON’Ts:
  •  If you spent your workday playing Angry Birds and downing beer, don’t boast about it. Much of the world is unemployed. Nearly half of the labor force earns $2.50 per day, and many risk their lives to bring home this pittance.  Keep your spoils under wraps. Thank you.
  • If you’ve enjoyed an orgasmic foot or other body-part massage by the world’s greatest lover, the one you’re unbelievably lucky to have captured, don’t boast about it. Spare us from nausea (and crazed jealousy). Thank you.
  • If you ONLY spew bragging bits about yourself, partner, or child/ren, stop. It’s annoying. Thank you.  
  •  If you’ve just returned from a fabulous trip, share photos but not all 500 of them. Thank you.
  • Do not ever post mean and stupid, hateful messages, “joking” or not. Thank you.
DO:         
  • Spread cheer, compassion and humor. We need it. Thank you.
 Finally, a NOTE ON THE POKE: The poke’s a unique tool, worthy of special mention. Keep in mind that, when considering poking, the intended recipient might not be in the mood and may thus be unresponsive. Repeated poking could be construed as harassment. Tread gently.

Thank you, Virtual People!

44 comments:

  1. Very well said, Robyn. I think we've still got a long way to go before many people realise the power of the words they're throwing into the ether without thought.

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  2. This is one of the things that bothers me greatly with cyberspace... the things you toss out, with, or without thinking, can never be completely removed. They're always out there, somewhere, waiting to haunt you, or even hurt someone else. One reason I'm not too eager to share. And don't even get me started on FaceBook and Twitter!

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  3. Marry me?

    You are a jewel..a great candid and honest post that I agree with wholeheartedly! Words create and equally destroy!



    LYMI sweet friend.

    J

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  4. A great letter... let's hope everyone takes it into consideration. =)

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  5. Promise never to poke you! (That's a Facebook thing isn't? Good, I can follow through on my promise!)

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  6. Poke!

    There are a lot of things I think, but don't post because I think about others. Like on facebook, my thoughts are religion are very contrary to many friends and family on there. I just keep quiet.

    Most people really should do that.

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  7. Excellent Don’t and Do rules – & they apply not only to the virtual world but to the “real” world as well (substituting “post” with “say”).
    Your blog is a definite “Do.”

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  8. Very well said.I haven't had any chocolate for awhile and thought I'd stop by to grab some. I promise not to poke you.

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  9. Great rules for cyberspace. I like to spread positive things because I think the internet can become negative so quickly.

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  10. Amen Sister! Words are powerful tools and must be used with care, or they become weapons of harm.

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  11. Can you repeat a poke in Facebook? I thought you had to wait until you got poked back. I did know about foot orgasms, though. It's not something to boast about unless you're giving free lessons.

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  12. I don't tweet and suspect that I never will. Like FaceBook, there's something too narcissistic about it. If you have anything important to say to someone, knock on their door.

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  13. I usually take 500 photos but only post a couple either on my blog, Deviant Art, or Facebook.

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  14. Thanks Annalisa, and I agree about the ether world.

    MsA, well said. You can "delete" but it can't be undone.

    John, YES! LYMI. Thanks.

    MJ, thank you.

    Alex, it's a deal. Yeah, poking a facebook phenomenon, to use the term very loosely.

    Ruth, you're more smart and sensitive than most. I agree, most people should stay quiet.

    Beth, I like the concept of applying these to the real world too. I also like your wisdom and cleverness. Insert thumbs up icon.

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  15. I got poked during my prostate exam. Gotta say. Not a fan.
    Well said, Robyn!

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  16. Thanks for grabbing, but not poking, Darlene. Smiles.

    Carrie, yes, it can be very depressing to absorb the flood of snippets that slam the internet within seconds. Not that we should ignore life's ugliness, but we need reprieve too. I'm grateful to people like you.

    Teri, thank you. I always appreciate the care behind your words.

    GB, you do have to be poked back. But us humans may tend to poke back as a matter of courtesy and obligation - not for pure pleasure.

    Stephen, it would be wonderful if we started talking to each other again.

    L.Diane, that's the kind of courtesy I'd like to see all around. It's not uncommon to take 500 pics of a trip. That's why discretion should come into play.

    xoRobyn

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  17. By the way, you really have to watch those foot orgasms. Your toenails can come flying off and put out an eye.

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  18. Seriously, Al, you couldn't put all this crap in one post?

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  19. Well, yeah, I could've. But, what would've been the fun in that?

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  20. " Last week I saw a tweet that paired Jews and ovens in the same message, with seeming levity."

    I'm seriously with you with regards to people talking like that Robyn. When it comes to sick, twisted jokes I do tend to hold the belief that if it's not being heard by the person it's supposed to offend and as long as it's not said with hatred behind the internet words then depending on the situation it's fair game but to mock a tragedy such as the Holocaust is despicable and in my eyes should never be referred to in a joking manner.

    Agh, I'm aware that's a huge wall of perhaps even incoherent text and I'm really sorry for that, the point still stands though.

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  21. Yeah it is disturbing how people latch on to hate so much. Sure the cat rants in many a way at the stupidness of people but only those that can take it/deserve it. The rich nimrods. Blogging is the best community though, the rest are all just "wow I went to the bathroom" fun stuff the hear.

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  22. I have neither poked nor been poked and I still have no idea what it's for. I don't know who that tweeter was but that is beyond tasteless. And I'm someone who's been known to make some tasteless jokes, so I would know.

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  23. So how many pictures should I post when I get back from Belize?? And why should we mock Belize? Great post Robyn...poke back atcha!

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  24. Al P #1-4, on the other hand, er foot, a foot orgasm could knock your socks off, in which case I suppose you'd still have to worry about losing an eye. Goodness Al 1-4, why do you take me to the oddest of places?

    Matthew, not incoherent at all. I REALLY appreciate your heartfelt sentiment. Thank you kindly.

    Pat, yes, blogger are the best. I'm so grateful for this blog community. Thank you.

    TS, poking's a silly, useless thing. Thanks. I really appreciate your feedback.

    Chuck, less than 500. PLEASE. Belize just has such a nice ring to it, I threw it in. And we shouldn't mock it, just the idiots who can afford to buy it because they get paid millions for being their idiotic selves.

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  25. Robyn this is cruel thing for someone to do and I agree with you 100% By the way, email me how I can unfollow a follower. I too have had a person change their blog from a writing blog to a seedy one and I don't want this blogger following me anymore. Hugs!~Ames

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  26. That is horrible! I cannot stand people who spew hatred and foul the net with their ignorant ways. I rant, but I try to keep it hate free. Hugs!

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  27. Well when I asked the poking question on my blog...what would happen if we poked each other in real life, got just 3 answers, looking for more.
    Thanks for your kind words on Alex's blog.
    Robyn, don't let them get to you. You are far superior to all those red necks. Remember a lot of the best brains and the beautiful were Jewish. It's the immature jealousy of coming second and third one on the Semitic spiritual ladder. ;)
    They fail to realise in their bid to be popular, the damage created in impressionable minds. Hatred is universal, not just based on religion. I think the thin veneer of pretending nicety comes off when they are online or among close friends. It starts from real life and carries on into the cyber world.
    It's a pity that we are forced to share this world with the very haters, life is too short, why spend it in hating someone you can't even claim to know well.

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  28. Probably guilty of posting the odd baby photo but if I see another cat photo I'm going to meow. Seriously, I see at least a half dozen everytime I log in.. sure pets are great, but don't try to convince me they're smarter than Einstein and more compassionate than Mother Teresa...

    It's the ones who post constant photos of themselves and have to update everytime they fart which drive me insane... they are so vacuous that they actually think others care whenever they brush their hair..

    Ok, off now to mow the cat, pick some bum fluff and video myself sleeping...
    ..and share it with the world...

    :)

    zzzzzz

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  29. repeated poking - baha harassment

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  30. or you could do what I do and stay pretty far away from FB and Twitter...

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  32. Love that you put those guidelines together. NOW, if we could just get everyone to follow them!!

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  33. I so appreciate getting to know you. I'm disgusted (I rarely ever use that word) by anyone who makes light of suffering or crimes that have been committed.

    Loved the guidelines. :)

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  34. good rules but you missed the email forward. Don't you still get those damn things? I do. It's too bad we can't keep certain hateful low-lives off the internet.

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  35. I've never tweeted, and I don't know how to post 500 pictures. I have been poked though, but all the kids were doing it on FB then! Julie

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  36. Great post Robyn! I think you hit it right on the head. It's too bad that so many folks use these tools to spread hate and negativity. A lot of passive-aggressive stuff (that I hate) out there also...

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  37. Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your comments and humanness. Thank goodness the bloggers aren't like other Virtual People.

    xoRobyn

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  38. Yay, a marriage proposal! Let me know the date!!!

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  39. I have to say the amount of hate I have seen as a result of social media is astonishing to me. I enjoy the company of my virtual friends but friends like that make me question how good these communities really are :/

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  40. You would tell me if I was one of THOSE people, right?

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  41. Yes, Kal. You never were, aren't, and never will be. Don't forget my love for you.

    Cest, it IS very frightening. Thanks for dropping by.

    Sarah, I'm thinking an Elvis-rabbi-Vegas affair. John doesn't know this. Will keep you posted.

    xoRobyn

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  42. well said, robyn, couldn't agree more. some people feel like they can say anything when communicating through the cyber world. once someting is out there you can't take it back so be really careful about the things you say there!

    great post!

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  43. I couldn't agree with you more! There's TMI out there. However my personal favourite is when people take a "sick day" and then tweet or do a status update message about how wonderful that pedicure, or movie was...lol.

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