Sunday, April 18, 2010

A confession

The Internet is a funny place. We read these little snippets of information and think we know people. I know someone I've met in person and liked for the most part, but when I read a comment he posted on a board I used to frequent I was so disgusted with him I immediately turn off when his name is mentioned. I know people who think I am a super bitch based on things I've said online, and when they meet me are completely shocked that I'm not a harpie.

Hell, in person I'm gentle as a lamb most of the time. I stop arguments from happening. In the classroom I am deft with words in the midst of brewing conflict and have talked angry boys out of punching each other. I've been called a bitch by teenagers and gotten them to apologize without any yelling on either side.

But here on the Internet I get more angry than I do in my life. Why? I guess it's because we don't have the benefit of a whole conversation or facial expressions or intonation so one comment can spiral out of control thanks to different writing styles. And we have these personalities - not our real personalities, but these creations we're developed on the web. If I were to suddenly start talking about how I actually liked The Notebook, would anyone believe me? Would people make fun of me? Would that change the persona I've developed?

I used to run before I had a foot injury, and one of my favorite songs to haul ass to was Brittney Spears' "Toxic." Yes. Brittney Spears. And I own a Rage Against the Machine album but it's a lie. Don't tell the Beefcake, but I don't actually like Rage. I only bought that album to help maintain my badass image in college, but I find all that aggressive screaming less enjoyable than a Justin Timberlake / Nelly collaboration. Do I like to kickbox? Absolutely. Do I cuss like a sailor and watch movies with explosions? Yes sir. Is my kitty's litterbox pink with hearts on it? Why yes it is. Know what else I like? John Mayer. Fuck off. He's talented.

I have layers. Like an ogre.

I had a Facebook page for like five minutes until someone I barely know sent me like fifty thousand flowers and kisses or whatever. I got the hell out of there. I had a Myspace for ages but never stopped worrying that my students would find it. Today I deleted it. I stopped posting to a popular message board months ago after I realized I was getting angry more often than I was laughing. I have fallen for many a troll in my day because I don't like to keep my mouth shut when I see shit that pisses me off.

But now I'm thinking about the whole thing. This blog. All blogs. Craig Mazin's most recent post to Artful Writer made me think about it even more. Which is kind of ironic.

I'm not trying to get people to say "Oh no, don't leave we love you" or whatever. I actually don't enjoy that kind of thing. What I like is honest discussions that don't get personal, where people are polite and respectful of each other and their opinions. When I think someone's being disrespectful I'll call them on it when I guess I should just ignore it or delete it entirely. There's no reason to let someone else's Internet persona upset my reality. My goal as a person is to become a zen being.

I like this blog. It's weird sometimes when I remember how many people I've never met have an idea of who I am, but then I remember how many friends I've made through this thing, and how much I've enjoyed having this outlet for my thoughts that can lead to a discussion of ideas. But I have to think about where I want it to go in the future and what kind of person I want to be when I'm here.

Do you guys know what I mean?


  1. One of the problems is that people actually read your blog and it draws people in. I know it's for you and you alone, but people like you. with my blog, I've got, like, two readers and I can rest assured that it's only for me. It's a place for my private thoughts and notes and shit- I've posted my shopping list there, so i wouldn't lose it!
    Sometimes, when kids have found my site, I've gone ghost on it- I just post impersonal, amusing shit that isn't really me or my heart or my head for a while. I will go read that post.

  2. I am so over blogs, tweeter, facebook and all the rest of it. It's just all so stupid.

    This will actually be my last comment ever. On any blog.

    Having said that I must thank you, Emily, for your time and effort in entertaining me for two years.

    Millar has left the cyber building.

  3. Vanilla is that why you started the blog? I'm always curious as to what motivated people. Do you think of it as an online journal?

    And Millar, you won't read this, but that's sad for me. I've always enjoyed your posts but I certainly understand why people leave this stuff.

  4. I started it as a notebook. I don't care if anybody sees it and i guess that shows. I just wanted a place to store scenes and notes. When my hard-drive crashed, I rebuilt two partial features from what i had online- priceless.
    The arguing...I guess if people came to mine, I'd argue with them. I subscribe to the whole 'Arguing on the internet = Special Olympics'. The people at Freerepublic and really don't CARE where Obama was born, they just want to hate. Fine. My side won.

  5. well, i'll still be reading i just won't be commenting.

    except for this last one.

  6. Vanilla it does kind of flow like a stream of consciousness sometimes. It's kind of interesting in that way.

    Millar, are you sure? The very very last?

  7. Sweet Mary, Mother Of God!


    You READ my Blog?!?!?

    (hurriedly straightening pillows and putting on pants)

  8. No only do I read it, I just commented on it omg.

  9. I've had a few blogs over the years, ranging from the most uber-personal (which is now safely locked away where no one can read it anymore!) to professional (literally, for the advertising agency I worked for.)

    I like the level of my Visual Poetry blog now. I make occasional personal posts, mostly posts on a single topic (film/screenwriting) but only post when moved to. If I were actively promoting a project, I'd step it up and post more often, but I don't feel I must post. When I feel that way, one or more of the following happens: 1) I get bored 2) I get resentful and snarky 3) I start revealing things of a far too personal nature that really should not ever be in print unless you want a career as a "Suzie Sexpert" because no one will remember any of the other things you post.

    I'm thinking about doing a diet blog, since that's where most of my energy is at the moment.

    Like anything - I think you should use it as long as it works for you. Change it when needed, put it on pause, reinvent it, or feed it. Though posts like this to remind people (sometimes including the person writing) that we are all far more complicated than can be contained in a few words written on a screen, are, I think useful.

  10. Shit... what the hell did I say?

    The funny thing about Mazin's anti-internet blog entry is that I read it on the internet on his blog. That's ironic (dramatic irony? no - I think it's situational irony.)

    I think Mazin's whole wasting time on the internet thing is a cousin to that thing - if I tell you you're a crappy writer and you quit, you were never going to be a writer in the first place. Lots of people waste time with pipe dreams and fantasies online - and when their fantasies get out of control it drives me crazy. Those people were never going to become writers. They just wanted to pretend. The people who keep writing and trying to get better - they have a chance... and in an odd way, they are the only ones who really matter. It's easy to go to a screenwriting message board that is 90% fantasy-land people and think those fantasy-land people need to get back to work. They are wasting their time. Except - those fantasy-land people want to waste their time. The 10% who live in reality know that they need to get back to work - and do that.

    Yeah. We are all lazy and all spend too much time online (especially me), but when you need to get work done - you get work done.

    If you need to take an internet break to do some work - do that.

  11. I've learned one thing on the Internets. Just yesterday, I learned that I really don't like Craig Mazin and would probably be a dick to him if we were to meet.

    Personally, my little voyage into the land of blogs was mostly through Triggerstreet. It ain't perfect, it's a waste of time, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The time & dollars that I'm thankful not to have wasted is anything that Craig Mazin has written (with the exception of his recent blog post).

  12. I put my website up as a place to keep a portfolio and post my contact information. Why I feel the need to blog on it is another question.

    I guess I like having a place where I can articulate things I otherwise never would. I don't like to talk about my writing all that much in person; to me it always feels either like I'm bragging or I'm one of those weirdos who is "kicking around a few movie ideas" and I don't ever want to hear anyone's suggestions on what I should write about. Keeping a blog saves me a lot of trouble that way.

    Oh, and everyone loves a parfait, by the way.

  13. Like all things, it comes down to intent ... I can, and have, wasted lots of time in joyous flaming internet arguments (some on Mazin's blog) and for me it was a good exercise ... you have to be a good writing to excel at that ... it led to me meeting people in the biz who I admire, too.

    But I think, just like everything, if a person's only purpose IS to argue, then that's all you'll accomplish.

    I like videogames, love them, I think a person can learn a lot about role playing and story with regard to some games ... yet when my son was born, I gave my Xbox away to the kids on the first floor.

    Why? Because I knew I'd have little free time ... I only have time to be a dad and to write (and some months ago I made room for Brazilian Jujitsu) and had to be strict with myself.

    Now does that mean video games (or Mazin's blogs) are bad? No. Not at all. It just means that I have to be careful how I use my time.

    I know people who wanted to write and direct movies who only ever WATCHED movies, they never got around to actually writing one. Too caught up in being a consumer.

    Same can be true of blogs ... I've met great, wonderful people through the blogs and message boards ... I've learned A TON of stuff.

    And I've had my share of arguments, too ... but now I don't often indulge in them because I've only got so many hours in the day.

    My blog is more of a personal journal, too ... more exercise for me. I've resisted making it too popular or ads or any of that, I'm not interested ... I decided early on that my blog was just going to be for me and that a large number of readers don't matter and I'm happy with it like that.

    I'm more aware these days of the image I'm sending with it (like you mentioned, folks are surprised to find I'm much, much nicer in person) and I think that's part of the growing process (internet puberty, as it were, is a real thing, I think) and my new rule is, if I'm not enjoying the flame war (Josh Olson told me he views a lot of these scuffles like video games, they're fun and test ones wit) or learning anything and it's making me too angry, I step back.

    But it's still a valuable tool, the internet and blogs, and you can use it to inspire yourself and others (like Scott Myers does) and so I guess in a way I'm saying Craig's right and he's wrong ... it just depends on the intent of the player.

    does that make sense?

  14. Emily, don't you dare going off your great daily habit!

    I started blogging back in 2006 and have had some serious ups and downs.

    I forced myself to keep writing, just because it was ridiculous how long I took to get a sentence in English down (you know, it's not my mother tongue and I speak another 3 languages badly).

    I would blog only when I got angry, so people thought I was this dark, self-centered angry European.

    (I'm actually quite the opposite. Rather naively happy)

    But the Zen remark struck me.

    The more I learn about the complexities of things, the harder I find it to strongly take a particular position - in any debate.

    Yet that handful of loyal readers I have told me to keep the vitriol flowing. So there I was, totally confused.

    I've become a lot quieter and I leave others to say what I believe is useful on my blog. Only once in a blue moon do I get worked up and I can't help myself.

    But here is what I LOVE about blogs: YES, you think you get to know people. You like them. Then they say something that shocks you. But doesn't it force you to question your own convictions. I really like that. And I have often concluded that I was wrong.

    Forever erring, forever learning.

    I hate it when people whose stuff I love reading disappear. Like a little light that goes out.

    Emily, please stay around.


    BTW: Where the fuck is Mystery Man?

    BTW: I don't like Rage either.

  15. Good post on an interesting topic.

    I come here for the cat pictures and get a kick out of your daily experiences. Originally my intent was to get more screenwriting info, and I have, but after gaining a good feel for the industry ropes, the kitties and funny stories keep me on here.

    I've learned that screenwriting is a very subjective craft compared to others, a lot of that is reflected in the attitude of blog commenters. Opinions or trade knowledge can be cool when shared, but a lot of people can get pretty dark.

    I had a fav trade blog that was inspiring until it was made over with the strange tone of "look who I know", "pay me for this and you might get somewhere". Sick.

  16. I like everybody's comments. Some interesting thoughts here.

    It's all Bill's fault, of course.

    And Karel, Mystery Man still occcasionally tweets:

    And he still posts to The Story Department frequently:

    But he's abandoned his blog.

  17. Mystery Man still has a website:

  18. Oh hey, so he does. Thanks for pointing that out.

  19. Steven Lee11:19 AM

    Periodically, I look at your blog, and I have learned things from it -- the links are especially helpful. However, I try not to comment on your blog. I'm the guy who is also a teacher and I made some comments about education / teaching some time ago on your blog that seemed to upset you -- which was not my intention -- I was just trying to help. However, I do want to thank you for having this blog. It has been helpful!

  20. That's what inspired this post in the first place - I get far too upset sometimes over things people have said. I don't post about teaching anymore because it's too personal and I got a lot of people telling me what a horrible teacher I must be. Sometimes it gets difficult to tell the difference between people who are trying to help and assholes.


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