Sometimes I really think that cyberspace is not the healthiest place to be. Every once in a while I encounter someone who is clearly in need of help, and since I’m not a mental health professional I am definitely not the go-to girl in situations of this nature.
Generally all I can do is the same thing I do when I encounter a rattlesnake in the bush: calmly and gingerly step back to a safe distance and then run like hell. In the digital world that means block, delete, ignore until they get bored and go away, whatever it takes to take myself out of that person’s realm.
The other day I was visiting a Facebook page that celebrates a certain breed of dog, and a lady posted about her guilt and anguish that her beloved dog had just gotten hit by a car. We were all saying things along the lines of, “I’m so sorry for your loss” as you do, when two different nut jobs chime in that she was careless, it was all her fault, and that she shouldn’t get another dog because she was utterly irresponsible.
This, without knowing the whole story. This, at the most inappropriate moment someone with even a modicum of tact could possibly conceive. But there you go. And it did, in fact, turn out to be an unavoidable accident that could not be prevented, even by a very loving pet owner. This was a tragedy that was definitely not made lighter by two people with borderline personality disorders who were incapable of keeping their mouths shut.
In the virtual world of Second Life, I’ve met quite a few amazing, wonderful people who will be friends for life, but I’ve also met my fair share of pathological liars who are only in there to manipulate people and see how much emotional damage they can cause. It seems to be a playground for sociopaths who want to experiment in ways they could never get away with in the real world.
And I’ve also encountered a few crazies on this blog. A psychopath once told me that a mass murderer I had mentioned should actually be celebrated for his acts as he had done the world a great service. My blood ran cold with that one.
And once or twice I’ve made the mistake of disagreeing with a narcissist and the response I’ve gotten was epic and totally out of proportion to my statement. Narcissists love to blog, and love to read other people’s blogs so that they can point out their many flaws and therefore feel, for a brief shining moment, intellectually superior. Their blogs are generally self-absorbed, irrational and easy to dismantle, but for the love of God, don’t do it, even with the most helpful intentions, or you will risk their wrath. It’s a very fragile bubble in which these people live.
Of course, most bloggers are fine, stable people who are writing to explore the world and its intricacies or to put forth new perspectives without forcing them upon anyone, or they simply want to share opinions or entertain. When you cross over to the dark side, I believe, is when your blog becomes, “All you people are idiots! Here’s the unfounded truth!” Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Cyberspace is also the hunting ground for stalkers, bullies, and people with every form of sexual disorder. To dwell in all things digital is to realize that there is a lot of sickness in this world. Tread carefully, dear readers.
I’d like to think, though, that in some circumstances being in here can be a healing experience. One can make friends and build up an emotional support group that will shore you up against waves of depression. It may also allow agoraphobics or those who are socially awkward to interact with the wider world. It can inform and it can make you feel less alone.
Perhaps the internet is the universe’s way of teaching us that we need to be more self-protective and set up very clearly defined boundaries. But every now and then I must admit that I prefer the sanctuary of a good book or the comfort of a real life, in-the-flesh hug.
Narcissus by Caravaggio