I realized that I’d become paralyzed.
Facebook statuses, tweets, blog posts… I’d somehow transformed into the social media equivalent of the guy who sits at the bar all night and never talks to anyone.
How did it come to this?
I think it started with weariness. Someone idiot would post something outrageous on reddit, so I’d stretch my typing fingers for a well-reasoned and thorough response… when a little voice would whisper, “Do you really want to argue with idiots for the next three hours?”
“Someone needs to say something,” I would counter. “Such idiocy must not stand. The world needs a hero.”
“Right, sure,” said the little voice. “Why don’t you just head on over to the comments section of youtube then, you brave Internet Batman you.”
So I would delete my partially drafted comment and go back to reading what other people were writing, quietly disagreeing with them in my heart of hearts, where nothing counts for diddly.
The same kind of double-think would kick in whenever I would go to say something on Facebook or Twitter. After seeing so many missteps and cringe-worthy posts and then ripping these apart with my friends, it gradually started to seem like the wisest course of action would be to say nothing at all.
As Honest Abe and/or Confucius allegedly put it:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ~Abraham Lincoln and/or Confuscius
Soon this paralytic self-consciousness grew into a paranoia of all things potentially imperfect: malapropisms, tpyos, self-promotion… The prospect of being accused of any of these things was enough to make me just throw my hands up and say, “Nevermind! I’ll just text this opinion to someone I know will agree with me.”
Which meant, of course, that the idea had no chance of ever reaching anyone for whom it might be new.
Today, these fears and insecurities seem ridiculous to me. In fact, it takes a pretty stupidly large ego to be that concerned about how strangers on the internet are interpreting my thoughts.
So here we go. I’m back to the party, and now I’m angling to be that semi-sloshed guy who is totally not picking up on your frantic nonverbal signals indicating that you aren’t interested in hearing a single word more about his views regarding gender politics.