Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The shadownet

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little sister, or an unfortunately cautious person, but I always seem to get into something just as it’s coming to an end. When I was younger, all I wanted was to be a hippie, like the ones in Hair, one of my favorite movies growing up. Unfortunately, it was the 80s. Not that I didn’t see the possibility of being cool even in the 80s. My sister would go off to Danceteria and wear safety pins in her ears and generally be as punk as she could get away and still go to church with us on Sunday. But...I was too young for that as well (thought wearing safety pins to class made me a VERY cool fifth grader, thanks to that same sister).

This is my roundabout way to noticing that last week seems to have brought out the dark side of the sunny little corner of the web I usually inhabit. I feel a little like an exuberant kid with my new toy blog, getting to the playground just as Mary Ann and Jennifer had a fight over a Barbie and everyone took sides and then all left in a snit. Or something. Maybe, again, I got here too late.

I think part of the difficulty stems from the false intimacy that these sites can engender in their readers. I started reading blogs back when I was at Aimless but Cool Job--to me, they satisfied the same need soap operas did for a time, i.e. an intimate look at someone else’s life and thoughts. People routinely post pictures of their family, deep dark secrets, and the ever-popular stories about poop. You pick the people you “follow”, just like on a soap opera, and then you cheer with them at the conclusion of a journey or commiserate over a failure. But that’s where the similarity ends, because unlike with a television show, you can actually talk to these people--develop a relationship with the “star”. Like it or not, you start to feel emotionally involved, and that can lead to feeling, if not like friends, then at least “friendly”. And so you start to feel like you can demand things from them...why aren’t they responding to your comments anymore? Or replying to your blog? You have been a faithful fan...where is your payoff? It’s not enough to get entertainment from the site...now it has to validate you in some way as well.

In Jungian psychology, the shadow represents the aspects of your persona that you have deemed unacceptable, for some reason, so you foist them onto the outside world. So instead of admitting that you feel unpopular or “less than”, or are jealous of those bloggers who have huge followings, you attack them for being too...what? Confident, popular, eloquent, lucky? The shadow knows.

Jealousy can be a wonderful, laser pinpoint tool to discover what it is you really want, and really need...as long as you face up to it. A lot of the time, I have a hard time admitting to myself that I actually really want something--perhaps from a fear that it will forever be out of my reach. But persistent jealousy acts as an insidious little acid voice inside forcing me to look at what I am doing, or not doing, with what I know. A willful blindness to oneself is like being divorced from your intuition. You stumble along down one rotted path after another.

But it’s not all gloom. We also tend to stuff positive aspects of ourselves in the shadow...traits we either don’t REALLY believe we possess, or those that scare us because they seem to demand a change in our whole lives. But again, we have to accept it, and again, it’s the starkness of our jealousy that can show us the way. To loosely paraphrase Emerson, it’s as though our own rejected qualities come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

So...own the fact that you want more attention and support from the internets (or any, ahem). Own that you’d love to have enough of a belief in your abilities to call yourself “Gorgeous and Divine” and REALLY mean it. Own that you care enough about your blog, your writing, your art, your work, or your life to wish you could rise to a level of brilliance, but are afraid of the work involved, or afraid that at the end of that work, you'll be left with the knowledge that it wasn't enough. Because the messy, occasionally malodorous effects of wanting more and being angry at those who seemingly possess it? That is the open stuff of life and connection. But the closed-eyed, closed-minded fist of self-righteousness? Not so much.



Blogger Yummyteece said...

You did not come to this party "too late"... i've discovered over my time blogging (I have 3, and the oldest started over 3 years ago) that as you write and read, cycles change. you will have lots of response, and then you will have none. You will have supporters, and then you will find yourself tied to a stake, wondering how you got invited to the witch bar-b-q. you will have days of being inspirational, and days of wondering how all those silly people stay positive all the time. It is the circle of virtual life.

7:11 PM, February 21, 2006  
Anonymous Meramoo said...

love it, love it, love it

I've been blogging for a year and a half, and I still get only a few rare comments. It's not a big deal to me, my life isn't that exciting right now, and my blog is more for me than for anyone else anyway.

6:39 PM, February 27, 2006  

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