What motivates you to share your life with relative strangers on the internet?
- It's part of the world inside my head. As I imagine most of the people reading this do, I spend most of my time being silent, in my head with my thoughts. When I'm at work, I sit in an office with other people who are mutely absorbed in their work. When I sit on trains, I'm with people who are absorbed in books/laptops/newspapers. When I'm with the bloke, we are often sitting together doing quietly meditative things. None of these are unfriendly environments, but they are all silent. A good deal of living, for me, is internal. The internet has always felt like a very natural extension of that inner world. Access to it via a physical interface is so swift and simple that I almost don't notice it.
- It feels safe. I know that being so open has risks, but my online experience, as I mentioned not long ago, has largely been positive. I share things on my journal - my paintings, my photos, intimate personal stories that sometimes don't reflect well on me - and the reaction from my stranger/friends has always been thoughtful, supportive and kind.
- It's part of being a "global" citizen. I've spent very few years of my life in any given location. I'm accustomed to my friendships, the ones that have spanned years and countries, involving very little face-time for long stretches. I'm happy to maintain cerebral connections to the people I love via this medium. Even when the communication is one-sided. I tend to concentrate my need for physicality in one person. This may or may not be healthy, but it's my solution to the regular geographical uprootings that I undertake.
- It lets me be randomly generous. I have occasional urges to, as the saying goes, give the world a Coke. I don't have the resources to carry out anything on that scale, but I can send my flist/dwircle postcards, magnets, pretty pictures of Saturn and paid account time.
- This community belongs to me. Whatever else happens in my personal life, I have this. I have this group of somewhat haphazardly collected folks, some of whom I've never met, others but once or twice and a few with whom I've spent significant time in meatspace. They read what I write here, and they care about it. I reciprocate. I depend on this, and it comforts me to know it's here.
- And finally, crucially, where else am I going to put all these cat pictures?
So, flist/dwircle, why do you share your life on the internet?