Saturday, February 06, 2010

I've been thinking

Yes, I know.  That's a dangerous situation.  
Certain recent events have triggered a memory of my first years on the Internet.  I believe it was 1998 when we got our first Gateway computer.  I had no instruction, and I learned a lot of things the hard way.  For the first week I had the thing, I was turning it off the wrong way... you know, I wasn't going to "start", "turn off" or whatever a PC says; I've already forgotten, after only a couple of months using a Mac.  
One thing I certainly did not intend to do was enter a chat room; I'd read all the horror stories:  People being abducted, tortured, killed.  No way, not me.  
I believe I was on the Christianity Today website when I saw a place to click for chat rooms.  How bad could a Christian chat room be?  I clicked, and I was hooked.  
For a loner like me, it was the perfect way to communicate:  I could have friends over and not worry what they thought of my old house with the roof leaking in the bathroom.  I didn't even have to worry about whether my house was clean!  And if I didn't like what they had to say, I could turn them off.  
The website offered several chats for different interests:  women's chat, men's chat, and others.  I finally settled on the "Christian's Fifty Plus" room.
For a couple of years, it was perfect.  Everybody seemed to like me; a guy with the screen name "Havok" taught several of us some basics about computers, telling us about keyboard shortcuts and such.  I went to my first chat room reunion in Dallas.  I was going to hitch a ride with my friend Wilona, in Arkansas, but I'd never met her "in person", and Cliff was sure I was going to be abducted, tortured and killed; so he took me.  By the way, when he met Wilona, it was love at first sight.  To this day she is one of his favorite people.  
Somewhere around 2001, I believe, things in the chat room took a turn.  Suddenly not everybody liked me.  Looking back, I think the problem was that I spent way too much time chatting ("tatting", as my then three-year-old granddaughter called it).  I imagine some people got tired of me being there for every. single. conversation.  Whatever the reason, catty remarks were made by a handful of people, and my dozens of friends decided to defend me.  This led to people taking sides, and it became an all-out war.  Yes, I'm talking about adults, many of us "seniors" and most of us "Christians".  Christians are human too, you know.  
I left the chat room, never to return; but I think the war went on for another six months before AOL finally closed the chat room, for reasons having nothing to do with the fighting.  
I gravitated to message boards and found out the situation is  pretty much the same on those as it was in the chat rooms.  
Then I discovered blogging, and it has been the perfect medium for me.  I can interact with others as much as I like; if they get tired of me, they can choose to stay away from my little home on the Internet.  If they get hateful in the comment section, I can delete their comments.  Considering so many of my foes from the old chat room are floating around in cyberspace somewhere, it surprises me that I don't get more rude comments.  I often wonder if any of them have found their way here, and whether they still judge me in the same harsh light as they did back then; I wonder if any of them would tell me why they turned against me, if we were to meet. 
I know several of my allies from the old room read this drivel.   
All of these memories were brought back by a poem I had occasion to dig out of my archives yesterday.  I was never satisfied with the first couple of lines of the thing, but I've been too lazy to change them.  I wrote it after leaving the chat room behind me.

Donna Wood July 23, 2002

I was my mother’s only child, so I grew up alone.
I had no one to tussle with, as puppies with a bone.
You might think that’s a blessing, or consider it a blight,
But in a confrontation, I just do not choose to fight.

When dogs of war surround me, I will always walk away;
I do not care that others agitate, or join the fray,
With passing time, I’m sure we’ll figure out who’s wrong or right.
But meanwhile, I have things to do: I do not choose to fight.

My friends may love the battle, and all choose to bend the bow:
I never studied weaponry. Such skills, I do not know.
But God has often stood for me, with power and with might.
With such as He assisting me, I do not choose to fight.

In one quite recent “smear” campaign, I answered not a line.
Why stoop down to their level, when the battle is not mine?
I have a thousand songs to sing, and poetry to write.
Why would I waste my energy? I do not choose to fight.

Let others have the medals, and let others fight this war.
I’ll save my strength until I find a cause worth fighting for!
I have a purpose to my days. My slumber’s sweet at night,
My sins have been forgiven, and I do not choose to fight.



Ora said...

I love you Donna...and Cliff too...and would you do me a favor and sing "a million dollar car"??

Robbie said...

LUV the poem! I never got into Chat rooms or Message Boards. I saw some of the fighting and sniping on the AOL journals one and stayed away from them all. I try my best to stay away from any of the online drama. I think of it like a monster. If you feed it, it will grow. If you starve it, it will die. And, so what if it doesn't. What I don't know won't hurt me. One of the things I really learned clearly from being online which is sad, is that there are some truly ugly, miserable people in this world. But, on the up side, I've also learned there are some pretty amazing people still too.

ms martyr said...

Love the poem. Makes excellent sense.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

good insight...and good poem- a great poem actually (watch for fb message later)

Leilani Lee said...

Something to think about -- especially with certain tempests brewing in teapots on other blogs. So much easier to walk way than getting tangled up in a fight. Your experience is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong.

Penny said...

I love your poem. I never got into chat rooms, really. The few times I tried, I felt overwhelmed and quickly left. I must be a coward at heart. I do chat one to one with a few trusted friends. I like that very much. Blessings, Penny