I sometimes read back on things that I’ve written, either online or in a journal, and I feel incredibly sad. Not sad as in: “Why did I do this, oh, my God, I cannot look anyone in the eye again!”; sad as in: “Oh, honey… sit down. Have a cuppa. It’s not so bad.”
Instant feedback is the siren song of today. I cannot say that the days of throwing bottles in the ocean are over – indeed, I’ve frequently compared my social media experience to pouring water in the desert – but the promise that someone might reply, the very possibility of someone hearing our call and shouting back is enticing. As a teenager, I framed my calls as fanfiction (okay, well, they were less calls and more like demands for my greatness to be acknowledged). As a young adult, I turned to reviewing and snark, developing my critical thinking and literary chops at the same time as purging my poison into unsuspecting websites.
These days, still a young adult (though not that young) I limit myself to the occasional post on social media, and use my critical eye on myself (most often in private, though there is also the occasional blogpost). I try to resist becoming overtly passive-aggressive – I know, from experience, that I will most likely not get the response I wanted, and that would make me even more depressed in turn, but there is something else that needs to be said here, something that I (and I suspect others) neglect when I go on a website to express my feelings.
Those feelings are often transient.
They are not the same the month, the week, the day after I had them. Heck, they might dissipate in the time it takes me to write whatever it is I plan on posting on my FB/Twitter/blog/whatever-it-is-young-people-use-to-get-away-from-their-parents. I might be tweeting about being hungry while making the snap decision to eat the last slice of plum kuchen. I might be writing about my heart still hurting after three months, and then look back another year later, happy in love, or a happy singleton, and shake my head in the same annoying way all adults do when confronted with a child’s youth of experience.
Growing pains are a real thing and most people are quite sympathetic to them, but there is a difference to experiencing those pains in front of your immediate family and friends, and having them in front of your potential employers, colleagues, and every future lover you might or might not have. So here is a gentle reminder, now, to everyone:
Dear future employers, colleagues, lovers and non-lovers,
I experienced growing up on the Internet. If you read a message from me, please read the time-stamp as well, and then check if I’ve written anything better more recently. I’m not telling you that I didn’t mean what I said way back when. I’m asking you to check if I’ve changed in the meantime.
Thank you kindly.