the comfort of strangers
It interests me how we navigate the morass of how much is too much to share online in this age of social media - for some people, any amount is too much and they avoid it completely while others give birth online, literally. Naturally there are generational and cultural differences too; when the presence of the internet has permeated most or all of your life it's likely you'll be more savvy yet perhaps more blase, about the concept of online privacy than an older person. I think for say, the Japanese, Twitter took off in such a big way because unlike Facebook it's more about interacting with people you don't know who share similar interests rather than real-life friends and allows a level of bluntness that isn't acceptable in face-to-face interactions.
I've used the internet for half my life, but only became adept six or seven years ago when I wasn't particularly happy where I lived and started being active on a forum for half-Japanese people. Since then, the level of vulnerability I am comfortable with online has ebbed and flowed. When I started using Halvsie, I hadn't met anyone else in person who posted there and that, as well as being surrounded by other people with similar experiences and who were very open themselves meant there was almost nothing I didn't feel I could discuss. When I moved to Japan and met a lot of the people in real life, it was like talking to old friends and I'm still close to them now though we all live in different places.
Part of the reason I set up Sasasunakku when I was living in Austria was because I wanted to keep in touch with my people at home and while I had a fairly intimate style of writing there, I avoided certain topics knowing who might be reading. My Twitter account was something that grew out of having a food blog and so it was natural that the discussion would stem from that but again, not knowing someone in person made it easier for me to be quite open in the beginning stages of friendships and that meant I made friends who I became close enough to to visit in both London and Berlin in just a few months.
Making and keeping friends and lovers in real life has never been particularly difficult for me and I'm often told how lucky I am - and often feel grateful for - the abundance of not only love, but acceptance, that surrounds me. Despite that, the awareness that people I know in real life might read certain things I write has inhibited me somewhat. It could that there's more to lose when you already love someone. Maybe it's because I'm aware that everybody has a picture in their head of how others are and generally don't enjoy having that picture messed with; not wanting the other person to change is, I imagine, one of the number one causes of break-ups. Perhaps it's that there really is something in the phrase "the comfort of strangers." Possibly I'm over-thinking things. Probably it's me projecting my fear of rejection onto others. It's likely it's all in my own head, that just because I pushed boundaries as a teenager and no-one caught me when I fell doesn't mean that's how the world really works but dealing with it this way is a damn sight cheaper than seeing a therapist.
I read something lovely which said that we should let others surprise us, in the sense that if we allow them to, others have the potential to delight us with their capacity for acceptance and that was one of the things I worked on this year. Whatever the cause was, I realise now that one of the main reasons for wanting to start spaces inbetween aside from the rigidity of the format of Sasasunakku and that so much of it was about my life with F. is that I want reconcile who I am now with where I want to be - that is more vulnerable - not only online but also in real life.