Sounds Like a Personal Problem

Smart Girls Who Do Dumb Things on the Internet are Problematic: My Twitter Fiasco

The internet is pretty amazing. You can find out just about anything, about anything, at any time. What might be even greater than your ability to find thing is your ability to say things— revolutions have practically started over the internet, and it’s one of the first things foreign governments like to limit access to in times of unrest.

For most people, however, the internet is not for starting revolutions—  it’s for posting pictures of our cat in a holiday sweater and letting everyone know what we’re eating for lunch, where we’re eating, and who we’re eating with. Which is as awesome as the completely insignificant can get.

The great and terrible thing about the internet is that you can say whatever you want. If you just had a really awesome Pork Salad at Cafe Rio you can tell the world. If you’re totally unnerved because your grandmother just told you that you need to go to college to “meet a good man,” you can tell the world that too. The lack of barriers on the internet allows us to do things like shamelessly flirt with the hottie from Starbucks, and express our pent up rage about that person who spits when they talk to us. There is nothing quite as satisfying as airing your grievances to the world— I mean what could be more empowering and passive aggressive? As a native of the land called Passive Aggressiva (perhaps some of you know it), the use of the internet as a means by which to note annoyances came naturally.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not that girl who updates her Facebook status with “Fighting with my (supposed) best friend who shall remain nameless. Admit you’re wrong— Tina!” Likewise, I don’t go into a fit of Mark Zuckerberg like rage on my blog with the name and bra size of anyone who pisses me off. I also know that for the most part, no one on the internet really cares what I have to say, especially when it’s about something so mundane as the fact that someone opened up the window while the heat was on. That’s part of the attraction— no one else cares, but I do.

My poison was always the more mundane gripes, made in passing and usually without naming culprits. I would later try to rationalize this discrepancy as being better somehow— a lesser evil— but who am I kidding? Bad is bad, even if it’s just a little bad.

I didn’t put any thought into these comments, and more than anything else they were born out of frustration that seemed too small or fleeting to make An Issue of, but big enough to rub me the wrong way (see: bug the hell out of me). It seemed pretty harmless; I got to voice my complaints and watch them disappear into the endless ether of the internet.

But when it comes to the internet, nothing really ever disappears, and the internet is an ether that can be scoured with a search engine. As it turned out, the primary subjects of my ‘harmless’ 140 character rants had googled my name and had been periodically checking my various social networking and blogging portals for as long as we’d known each other. They thought I was a Grade A Bitch, and they had evidence to support it.

In my passive aggressive quest to not make a big deal out of little things I successfully created a huge problem and convinced people I had no real problem with that I hated them. What did I think I would accomplish by tweeting about problems rather than dealing with them? My only answer is that I didn’t think, and that little blue bird came back to bite me in the ass. I haven’t got any advice about how to not be passive aggressive (other than: don’t be passive aggressive), but I do have some tips that will hopefully save you from an internet fiasco like my own.

  1. Assume that anything you post on the internet will be seen by everyone you have ever met (that includes your Nana, and that cute guy who played Horatio in your school production of Hamlet, and your lovable but neurotic best friend). Then decide if you really want to say something.
  2. If you’re that person saying, “Good, I want them to see it.” No, you don’t. If you did, you would be telling them, and not the conglomerate that is your twitter feed.
  3. If you really have to say something, make sure your settings are private. Even then, it’s probably not a good idea to put your name on it— just in case.
  4. Search your name on a regular basis, cause nothing on the internet expires and even years later people can still look at the relics of your shameful Myspace page.

Please tell me I’m not the only one to do dumb stuff on the internet…

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