If you only know me through Facebook, you would think that I was a syrupy-sweet Pollyanna whose glass is always full; full of what is a whole other story. Those of you who know me, know that I am not this person. I can get snarky and bitchy with the best of them. On certain days of the month, I could give Dorothy Parker a run for her money. Why then do I find myself being über positive online? I have pondered this very question, and I think I have an answer.
While some folks feel courageous with the complete anonymity of being online, and perhaps allow themselves to be more critical and judgmental in cyberspace than they would be in real life, I oddly feel more exposed and more vulnerable online. I get that this last statement is the opposite of what it should be, but bear with me.
If I was snarky and bitchy in a social setting, (I don’t know, say, a bar or at a friend’s house a glass of vodka in my hand) and maybe I was gossiping as I am want to do, there is wiggle room if it comes back to bite me. Let’s say that someone I was talking to reports back (tattles) to the person (victim) I was talking about. I can back pedal that shit ‘til Tuesday. “No, it was a joke.” “I never said that.” “Seriously? That’s what they think I said?” “It was misinterpreted” or the classic “OK, but I was drunk.” Also, there are times I don’t even need to say anything. I am a master of the silent sting. It has come from 22 years of teaching. My eye roll alone speaks volumes. My icy stare is as good as a witty comeback. If asked “What did you think of the play?” all I have to do is half-smile and sigh, and the message is sent. If asked about my negative response later, I can say “I didn’t say anything! How can you accuse me of being cruel? Honest to God, I didn’t say one bad word about it!”
Online I can’t take anything back. Everyone sees it for exactly what it is. I can’t sugar coat a status update like “What a bitch” or “He’s an idiot” or “She reminds me of Ann Coulter.” I can’t deny a status update like “For the love of God, avoid that play like the plague because it is worse than a pap smear.” I mean, where would I start? “You’re taking it the wrong way.” “I didn’t mean it literally.” Those don’t seem to fly in this scenario.
So my facebook status updates are usually relegated to the following: love for my husband, love for my daughter, love of literature, love of theater, love of teaching, love of the out-of-doors (which if you know me, you just rolled your eyes) love of life, love of art, and, on occasion, something political. I make myself sick, but I can’t help myself. Online I have turned into someone I never thought I would; I’m sweet.
Maybe online, I am the person I wish I could be. The nicer, sweeter Liz Woodworth. Ever since I was a little kid, I heard things like, “Lizzy, be nice” and “Honey, be polite” and “Good God, not so loud” and later, “Must you use profanity in every sentence?” I have tried to be kinder and sweeter and quieter than I am by nature, but after years and years of failing, I’m thinking of giving up the pointless battle. Maybe my facebook personality is the last gasp of that ridiculous and impossible self-improvement idea. The truth is, I am snarky and that’s that. I enjoy a good zinger. I relish pithy critiques of others. I am loud, irreverent and critical. And maybe, just maybe that’s OK, because it is authentic, unlike my facebook posts.