What a World
I am not afraid of my neighbors.
For the most part, experience has taught me most people are pretty decent. Not to say I haven’t associated with or come across people who showed very little compassion. In fact, like the rest of you, I have been around people who never seemed to have one kind thought, or happy moment. It is because the vast majority of our interactions are positive ones, that the really nasty moments stick out.
I remember being bullied as a kid and thinking, “don’t they see what a swell guy I am?” I even tried to say that to a kid when I was in 7th grade, getting a fist to the side of the head for my efforts. Maybe those bullies were swell guy to other people, though at the time I couldn’t see that. All I wanted was for them to go away.
Lucky for me, these interactions did not convince me to eschew people. I enjoyed meeting new people, finding new friends. Maybe because of that attitude (or maybe because we really were both swell guys), the 7th grade bully and I eventually became friends. Not the usual end to the bully story, but it was mine this time.
I am not afraid of the internet.
Social media has been a conundrum for me. It has revealed some of the worst humanity has to offer and I have to admit, I sometimes fear for the planet when I read or see what some people share and say. Internet access and social media make it easier for everyone to express whatever horrible things pop into their heads, instantly and to larger groups of people than they could two decades ago. still, I am convinced that the world is no more violent or corrupt than it has ever been. Information travels faster and to more people. Smart phones allow people to share events and break news before major media outlets. Things that used to take days or longer to disseminate, now take minutes or hours and events that perhaps might never have seen the light of day outside those they intimately affected, often impact people half a world away.
Good things get around faster as well.
The overwhelming majority of my online interactions have been with fantastic people. I am amazed and astounded that I can so easily communicate and share with people from all over the place with such little effort. The world becomes so much smaller when you engage in conversation with someone in Ireland, Indiana or Australia, while sitting at a computer in your own house. I have shared music, poetry, political arguments, family struggles and successes, art and literature, with people all over the planet.
What amazing possibilities present themselves. What incredible things can be accomplished.
It would be a horrible shame to miss out on those moments because I allowed fear to keep me away. There is far too much to see and do, learn and love. I think I will go out and see what there is to see.