The Pen Is Mightier

My mother always warned me to be careful of what I put down in writing.

When I was young, she warned me about passing notes in school – always assume it’s going to be read by everyone. That way, nothing you write will get you in trouble. God forbid you wrote something nasty about your teacher and got your note confiscated and read by that very woman.  Or worse, if you wrote something mean about a friend and they were later shown the note. In elementary school – especially one as small as mine – every fight, every disturbance in the delicate and intricate social structure we had established to enable us to live in harmony, was devastating.

So I was always careful with my words. Once written in ink, you can’t take it back. If you make a comment here or there that comes back to you, it’s easy enough to deny. It’s easy to clarify, to twist, to fix.  If someone comes up to you and hands you something written in your loopy, neat, unmistakable handwriting, there’s nothing you can do to save face.

Sadly, my mother’s lesson didn’t transfer in my brain to technology – at least not right away.  I had to learn the hard way that the mantra of, “Don’t put anything in writing” also applies to the internet.  I remember one time, my mother had hacked into my AOL account and printed out an long, serious email that my friend had sent me. She had highlighted parts that “concerned” her and locked the two of us in my room until I gave her satisfactory explanations for it all.  I was then more careful about what I put online – because emails sent were just like notes passed. They can come back to haunt you if you’re not careful.

Of course, when I say “learned the hard way”, I’m not saying that I miraculously realized this was a bad idea and stopped doing it entirely. I can think of many other instances where things I put on the internet ended up biting me in the ass. However, through this experience and the rapid increase in social media and internet visibility, I have also gained an overall awareness.

When I entered into this blogging experience, I was not delirious enough to believe that I could hide it from anyone. I didn’t want to announce to the entire world that I had one, because honestly, I thought I would sound kind of pretentious. “I write stuff! Look at me!” I know that just in having this blog, I’m saying that on a daily basis, but I felt no need to draw extra attention to it. Eventually I gave in and started whoring myself out on twitter, but aside from a link down at the bottom of the “info” section of my profile, I don’t mention it on Facebook. I didn’t mention it to coworkers until very recently, and really only did because they sort of found out on their own and I felt no need to lie about it. I don’t bring it up a lot. My theory is, I want people to read it. But I don’t want them to feel like they have to. So, if they find it and like it – awesome. I hope they keep reading. If they find it and don’t like it – awesome. Move along. No harm, no foul.

However, I write this blog with the mindset that literally anyone in the world could read it. WordPress is kind enough to provide me with statistics, and I know that no where near “the world” reads it. In fact, my highest traffic day yields less readers than there are people living in my apartment building. But, as it is with passing notes in class, the important thing isn’t who DID read it. It’s who, theoretically, could read it.

So, though sometimes it seems like I haphazardly throw words together and click “publish” [and let’s be honest, sometimes I do], I always have it in the back of my mind that literally anyone could come across this site.

Therefore, I do not regret a single word I have posted. That’s not to say I’m 100% pleased with everything I’ve posted, from a writer’s standpoint. Sometimes I go back and think, “That was poorly written” or “That could have used more structure” and things like that. I mean, my earliest Gleecaps were atrocious compared to the most recent ones. But I do not regret any of the content.  Even if my opinions on something have changed or will change since they were written, it is how I felt at the time and I will gladly stand by them.

Some people put things on the internet without thinking. Or they send something to a friend or lover, assuming it is for their eyes only. I know better. My mother taught me well.  So anything I post here, I meant it. It never fell into “the wrong hands”, because I wrote these words for all hands.

I do not regret a single tweet, a single status, a single post.  Everything I do involves some semblance of forethought. I promise.

Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 06/17/2011.

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