The last 20 years I have – like the rest of the world most likely – watched and participated in the internet and the world-wide web taking over the world; bringing social networking to our tool box for communication. It has certainly drawn our LGBT communities much closer; brought individuals into our lives that we may never have met without it, and changed the base-line dynamics of how relationships begin, go on and end.
My own experience with computers and the internet came to me in my early 30’s….in 1993 actually. And since then it has become part of my daily life. Because of this daily access to information, education, opinion, people, and tons of other things, I find that I have personally learned many things along the journey that have changed me in some way. I imagine that this is true for everyone who has brought the computer into the home, place of business, on vacations and has become the standard everyday user of said machine.
We’ve grown a whole new vocabulary for using the internet, and for using the texting features on our phones and other devices. Words that have grown in such popularity and usage that they have been added to our dictionaries and allowed on the Scrabble board! Some are clean cut, some require some experience of understanding with the topic of the word. We’ve gotten used to it now.
Twenty years ago we were in a different place in the LGBT community; in our country and in the world. We found solidarity in Gay Pride parades and events. We built alliances for support, encouragement and protection. The world was still much less hospitable to LGBT identifying people than it is today in 2014…but it was making progress every so slowly.
The internet became our strongest tool in forming these alliances and building on this new-found solidarity as we leaned about one another, learned that we are not alone in our struggles; that others had/have the same experiences or questions about themselves and where they “fit” in the big picture as we do! And today this wonderful thing we call the web is the primary “go-to” tool for building or forming just about everything. Computers have helped us do more than communicate, they have enriched our scientific studies, testing, allowed us to see things previously invisible, and allowed us to make things previously unknown – such as 3D copies for example. Yes, the computer changed life on earth very radically; and the internet changed social interaction around the world quickly, effectively and entirely.
I love my computer experiences. I enjoy my computers, what each can do, what I have each set up to do for me or with me when the need arises. I love social media, networking, meeting new and interesting people online and then oft times in person! I giggle at the funny pictures everyone can now post. I shed tears for the sad posts that bring a touch of real life agony from half a world away right into our living room. Yes, for the most part – probably 98% I do really enjoy my computer time and activities.
There is that 2% of the time that something I see on my social networking, news, blog, or video sites unseats or unnerves me to the core. I get that freedom of speech is the rule. That people are free to have their own opinions, and to post whatever they wish to post to their “pages” around the web. And sometimes I am not going to like a post, a picture, or a statement made by someone else. I am free to not read, look at or interact with those posts – that is my choice I fully understand. Perhaps maybe today, 20 years down the data-train road I understand that I make my own choices even more fully than I understood it at 32. That does not mean that I have to enjoy making that choice; or that I ever enjoy stumbling across stuff that I think is mean-spirited, cyber-bullying; or that comes across as hate-speech, sometimes full of stuff that can be outright assaults on others, crude, rude, crass, nasty, or vulgar, etc.
I understand that when there is a space where I am invited to leave a comment that I am rightful to do so if I choose. But there seems to be this fairly new internet thing where some use the comments sections to try to start on-line arguments, debates, and just like to post upsetting stuff. Some of them are what I call “drama queens” (which anyone can be, it’s not a gender specific title!) and “turd stirrers” who like to stir the pot and get people upset and riled up. If someone verbally assaults or attacks me or any of my friends I am one who will come forward and say something or try to diffuse the situation; perhaps it was just a misunderstanding to begin with and no harm was intended. But when slander and hurt is done purposefully I consider that poster a cyber-bully; someone who is just rude and probably are self-loathing beings anyway.
Personally I do not believe that it’s right to use your online space to hurt others, or to post about other’s choices and lives. I do not ever use photos or video clips of people on my pages to ever hurt them. And generally IF I use a photo of someone I DO get their permission – unless it’s a viral clip like a dog in a hat, that I am going to say is “cute”. Those are only common courtesies to me. And I do not mind others sharing my post or videos if it’s for the right reasons, for the base intention of doing good, and not for defaming or slandering me in any way; not for negative reasons or on negatively loaded sites. I have much more respect for any blogger or vlogger, who wants to use my posts, when they contact me and explain what they are going to use them for in advance of just posting them. I would like to think that I have good, decent internet values and mannerisms; and that I am far above having to use other people’s posts to cause controversy that draws views or interest to my posts – but brings them nothing but harm and misery.
We had some very hateful incidents concerning a certain set of blogs and vlogs where the creator was very anti-trans and chose to attack many FtM guys publicly – copying and re-posting their surgery pictures and giving horrific details of why these people were wrong to transition. Quite a few people banned together and got involved and we tried to get this person banned from vlogging and blogging using pictures without authorization – or even common courtesy of asking to use them – We got a private investigator involved, we know the person, far too much about this person actually now…and sadly she’s still got people who read and believe all of the sludge that she created; who looks completely past the hurt she’s doing / has done to these innocent people with her vile posts. I thought most of the world was progressing, but obviously we have some stragglers! I am sure that some of you remember this time in our online history, those that she didn’t completely shame off of the web, she hurt our community with her poison – which is just hard to forget!
(((Note: Don’t even mention her vile name in any comments left, I will not approve them if you do!!!! She deserves NO more “hits” on her vlogs or blogs, so don’t mention her moniker or name please!)))
I will be following this blog with another in the next day or two speaking on the solidarity we have created via our online connections, and how those alliances have so positively affected and helped many of us in the LGBT community. Much more up beat! 🙂 Rock on!