Ok, here we go… end of an era? (boy, is this the right day for this kind of thing, or what?
The end of this month marks my 5th anniversary on the net, and the third anniversary for this website, in all it’s incarnations. I was actually on the web back in 94, when I was still at UBC, but used it then for what it was originally designed for – to display papers, essays and class notes (I was a TA then). That site wasn’t about me, wasn’t personal or anything. The first time anything about *me* appeared on the www was when I put up a thing called “Mark’s Place on the Net” or something like that. I still have those Netscape 1.2 coded pages somewhere, and I might pop them up here for some trivial entertainment.
But this past year has been the most influential, web-wize, for me. It’s the first year where I basically made my entire living by designing web sites. The year started off rough, but by the end of the year, I’ve built up a good stable of clients that kept me and my bank happy. This is also the first year I discovered webpolitika, and I have to say, I didn’t like it much.
I was witness to (and part of) a new phenomena: the webopera.
A few months back, I wrote a little thing about not taking the web to darned seriously. I wrote it after Michael stopped his excellent otherside.org. I meant it, but about a month after I wrote that, I realized I might has well been writing the darned thing to myself. I let Maggy’s trashing of Olio really get to me. I let some snot down in Cali get the best of me (for a short while). I worried too much about things, and worse, I worried about how people thought about me, which was unusual. I’ll try to explain.
Those who know me well enough know three things about me – one, I’ll almost never back down from a confrontation, Two, I’ll never say something about anyone behind their back that I wouldn’t say to their face. And lastly, I’m fiercely loyal to my friends and family. That’s my real life persona, and it’s the same persona I have on the Net. The problem with this, I’m well aware, is that I come off as an asshole to people at times. But you know what? I’ve never really let that bother me too much in the past – I figured that as long as I spoke my mind, and the truth (well, the truth as I knew it) people might not like it, or me much, but they would respect the honesty.
But I missed something along the way. When I am the way I am, in person, people can see me, can see my face, my eyes, and know that I’m being sincere when I’m speaking my mind. I forgot that the physical aspect of human interaction doesn’t work very well over the Net – not well at all – hence the birth of the emoticon. So, over the past few years, generally being myself online, I began to hear rumbles last fall about how much I’m hated or disliked on the net by a some people (beyond the obvious ones). A little while back in ICQ, an online friend joked that I was dangerous to know because I’m just so darned controversial. That made me think a bit.
You see, the net has become home to people unafraid of launching massive flammage at others, because they don’t fear any consequences. As a result, you have two things occurring – one, no one respects opinions much anymore on the Net, and also, you tend to think the person typing the flame, or the criticism, or what have you is some little wimp hiding behind his keyboard. I know that’s my first thought when I see some flame tossed in usenet or in email from some anonymous person – too afraid to even add their own name to their criticism.
Myself, I never launched a flame I wasn’t prepared to stand behind. It’s not natural for me to do otherwise, so naively, I expected people to at the very least respect what I said and did, even if they hated me for it.
But Mark, you said you were going to explain about why the net got to you, and why you started worrying about what people thought about you?
OK, I’ll get to that. You see, I have one weakness that was unknowingly triggered over the last several months. You see, there’s few things that ire me more than a hypocrite does. I’d rather have someone say something to my face, and hurt my feelings, or alienate me, or whatever, than to have them squak about it behind my back. When someone does that, my opinion is they are just a complete chickenshit. They are too afraid to confront a person, but are all to willing to stab the knife while your back is turned. The lowest form of courage and balls I can think of.
And because I could never stand a hypocrite, I let certain things get to me. And when those things got to me, I let other events bother me. It all snuck up on me, until I finally came to the realization, about a month ago that I myself am letting this whole net thing get to me far too much. The fact is, the world has it’s share of liars, thieves, cheats, and troublemakers, (maybe I fit the last one) and so does the net. I don’t let these types get the best of me in real life, and from now on, the only thing they’ll get from me in my net life is derisive laughter, because that’s all most of them deserve.
As for the the other people on the net who maybe don’t fit the descriptions above but I still voiced on about? Jen, Dave, and a few others – you’re right – it’s nothing worth me even getting remotely upset about.
Now for a little recap of 97 as I saw it on the Net.
Last year had I had a good year and a bad year. I got introduced to genius online (no names, no names). Several times. That was good. I found out there are even bigger assholes than me online as well. that’s both good and bad. I struggled at the start of the year with income. That was bad. I ended up 97 on a positive note, business wise, and that was good. I wrote some important stories (for me at least) and people read them. That’s good. Popularity and cliques came to the forefront on the web scene, and that was definitely bad, from all sides – the people writing for and against it – the people both on the inside and outside.
I had my share of a few online stalkers last year. That was bad, but not as bad as having Jean trashed by people she didn’t even know or have anything to do with. That was worse. I met a LOT of new people online, most of whom I’m “netfriends” with, and that’s good. I had some illusions about geniuses burst this year, and that’s both bad and good – good in the sense that it makes them more human. bad in that, I have no webheros anymore, and I think we need that (not necessarily web heros, but people you can look up to). I’ve been disappointed by a few people online, in ways they will never know, and that’s very bad – not because they disappointed, but because I let it happen.
Last year, I was recognized through honours for some of my work, both online and off. That was very good – first time for me, really, unless you count word of mouth advertising and referrals as an honour, which I do. I spent another year with Jeanette, which was very good. I got to see my Mom again, and after a relatively bad early part of the year with her, that was good. I became disillusioned with a few people this year, some who were fairly important to me, and that was bad. I expected too much this past year, and that was bad. I succumbed to rumours more in 1997, than any time in my life, and that’s bad.
As for 1998? Well, things are going to be a bit different. For one, my self-imposed “time off” September to January from the web geopolitika world I was in was good for me. I actually made a fair amount of new net friends (and some real time) during that period, most of them in the same field as me, and we talk shop often in icq and videophone, which has been very very cool for me. What is the coolest thing about these people is that they are blissfully unconcerned with the goings on in the webopera world, something I plan to do in 1998. My problem is, I did let the weboperas get to me fully. And no, I’m not a hypocrite for telling everyone to lighten up two months ago, because I didn’t realize then when I wrote it how tied up I really was.
So what are you going to see around here in 1998? Well, a lot of the same – me bitching or praising something going on outside the web, or inside the web. But this time around, I’ll be avoiding references or specifics about individuals.
But before I go, I have to take care of a few unfinished things. First, it’s been brought to my attention that one person on the net thinks just about everything written here is about them… hidden meanings or not. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s simply not the case. I rarely even think about this person much anymore… I simply don’t have the time to be remotely concerned about what the person does these days. I just thought I should cover this, since I was told this person thought my my cryptic xmas message wishes were all about the person in question. Buzz, nope. nada, none at all.
The other thing – I got a TON of mail about was one of my Christmas wishes: I wished that the “old bitch would be around for another 10 years”. Not one, but two people actually thought that was about Maggy!! That made me smile. Actually, it was about my old dog Mitzy, who’s now 10 years old. Female dog = bitch, get it??!
And so now, we’re into 1998 full blown, and the year looks bright from this end. As for weboperas and the webpolitika? I think I’m done with that – besides – there’s far too many cool, new, and exciting things to do with this little thing called the web, and with my life as a whole.
Se ya next time! Thanks for stopping by!