The Internet Isn’t The Place For That

I’ve been online almost all of my life. I think we first got the internet when I was 16? And the internet has been my home ever since. As an introvert who works too much and socializes too little the internet has long been one of my fallback forms of socialization.

Over the years I’ve grown wiser.

I was there when MySpace was the ‘IT’ place to be, I was there when Facebook arrived, I was there when Twitter flitted into being. I’ve watched as people have struggled to find their place.

I seem to remember the internet being a far friendlier place, a far more open place but it’s not like that anymore.

Scammers wait at every turn, people lose jobs because of ill thought tweets, people lose friendships because of a simple meme on their Facebook. Every day, in every way, the internet is making people miserable…

But it’s not the internets fault, it’s our fault for using it improperly.

You DO have friends online, but the written word is a funny thing. We all aren’t skilled at reading between the lines, nor are we all skilled at writing between the lines. Some people are really awkward with written word, some just aren’t very good at reading. We’ve become ‘skimmers’, we only see what we want to see or conversely what we’re afraid we’ll see.

Somebody posts: I like cake.

Somebody responds: That’s why you’re fat.

The response is meant to be a joke, but it’s not. And next thing you know poster and responder are no longer friends. Not offline and not on.

Somebody posts a picture of the Republican Candidate saying something or other vaguely controversial, someone else responds with arguments as to why the Republicans are wrong. A debate ensues, another friendship ruined.

Some dumb teenager posts dumb stuff on Twitter and years later she has to drop out of her political campaign because people find those tweets and now she’s the villain.

I’ve learned, the hard way, that we can’t treat the internet like a face to face conversation. Too much is missing. Body language, effective communication skills, in some cases; maturity. We also tend to fall into this problem of seeing ourselves differently than others see us. We think people should KNOW we’re joking, but they don’t, because they don’t see us as we see ourselves.

I am a controversial person. I have opinions that are not in line with popular thought. I have ‘uncool’ opinions. I don’t deliberately try to be counter cultural, but I am.

I’ve learned that I cannot voice my opinions online. I can’t share certain aspects of who I am or what I believe online because it inevitably offends someone, somewhere and honestly I value people more than I value my right to express myself.

I save the deep conversations, the debates, the intellectual run arounds for offline conversation only. Offline I can look in someone’s eyes and see if I’m hurting them, I can see in their body language that they’re uncomfortable, I can know where the line is so that I don’t cross it. I can’t do any of this online.

So what is the internet for, if not for the exchange of opinions and ideas?

Think of the internet as a letter to a random penpal. You don’t know them well enough to discuss your thoughts on politics or religion. Instead you talk about your new dog, you talk about the beauty of your corner of the world, you talk about TV shows, you talk about books, you talk about anything but the really deep issues.

That’s what the internet is for.

Cats.

Pictures.

Light hearted entertainment.

The internet isn’t the place to air your deepest thoughts. It’s not the place to share your controversial opinions (doing so can hurt your future, it can even lose you your job). It’s not the place for debates.

Once you realize this, once you come to terms with this, you’ll be much happier in online land. 🙂

PS: And if you really MUST use this as an outlet for your secrets, your opinions, your controversial truth, at least only do that in private discussions among those whom you truly trust. Those sort of things aren’t for Twitter or even locked Facebook posts (because as we all know, even those aren’t TRULY hidden).

Should You Be Embarassed To Write Fanfiction?

There really does seem to be a lot of shame centered around fanfiction. I’ve had people sneer at me when I admit to writing it; “Oh, you write fanfiction.” I’ve had people presume I’m not a real writer because I dabble in fanfiction. I’ve had to endure all manner of pretentious assholery (pardon the language ma) because of my love affair with fanfiction and quite frankly I’m tired of it.

Look, just because I like playing in other people’s worlds doesn’t mean I’m automatically inferior. Judge me for the quality of my writing, not for the content.

Some lady writes about a woman’s love affair with a bear and people give her awards. I want to write about Spock and Kirk and their adventures in space and I get sneered at? Nu uh, nope, not okay.

The thing about fanfiction is that we ALL have dabbled in it. Either in written form or just in our heads. I really think fanfiction is how we start. Every young writer I’ve ever met has written fanfiction, but here’s the trick… they don’t know it!

I’ve mentored a young woman who wrote The Little Mermaid fanfic and if I had told her she was ripping that movie off I think she would have stopped but because I didn’t she kept writing and the story became wonderfully and weirdly her own.

My very first full length novel (80K) written when I was 16 was a Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum), The Sentinel (old TV show) and Quantum Leap (another old TV show) crossover fic. But like the girl I mentored it quickly went from me borrowing everything I loved about those shows into something uniquely my own.

Fanfiction is undeniably a great way for young writers to learn and grow. They haven’t quite mastered the art of creating their own worlds and characters so they borrow those from books, movies and TV shows that they absolutely adore.

What about adults?

I don’t know about everyone else but for me fanfiction is reserved for only those things that deeply touch my heart. It’s for the books, TV shows, movies and even video games that were so good I just didn’t want them to end. And they didn’t have to. Through fanfiction I can keep them going forever. I never have to leave those precious worlds and characters behind, even if the original author does.

I respect the wishes of the authors I love. If they don’t like fanfic, I only write it privately and never share it online. If, however, they don’t have a problem, I write away. I write because I love. I write because it’s still great exercise, even now. I write fanfiction because fanfiction is the ultimate expression of gratitude and adoration to the talented authors out there who give us these things that we cherish and never want to let go.

Fanfiction is just another way for us fans to say thank you, so don’t be embarrassed. If some ignorant buffoon mocks, teases or harasses you for writing it, just grab the fanciest piece of fanart, shove it in their face and say: If you don’t mock this, you shouldn’t mock me, assface. Actually, leave out the assface part, we don’t want to incite fist fights here.

Use their mockery as a chance to educate.

Or not.

The choice is yours.

In the end who cares what anyone else thinks?

You’re the one who’s writing. You’re the one who’s creating. You’re the one who takes every opportunity to hone your craft, even if that opportunity is taken in the neighbor’s sandbox.

I write fanfiction.

And I won’t be ashamed.

Microsoft Word and Microsoft Online and Why You Should Use Them

WORD

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH MICROSOFT WORD

I’ve had Microsoft Word AND Microsoft Online (I guess they call it OneDrive) for ages. I never gave it much thought. I’m not even sure why I paid to own Microsoft Word, I think because it only cost less than $10 a month (and I wasn’t willing to shell out the hundreds it costs to buy any other editing program – and I disliked the interface of free programs). I suspect though the real reason was I’ve been using Word since I had a computer. I remember when it was a blue screen. I remember long nights in the family room writing away while I hoped my parents wouldn’t notice I was awake. Microsoft Word just makes me nostalgic.

Normally I write on USB drives using WordPad. It’s always been enough for me. I don’t do much in the way of formatting and I don’t like the distraction of red lines and green lines when I’m writing. I used the USB drives so I could bring my writing with me everywhere. I’ve been known to write on my break at work, at the library, at the park on my laptop… I’ll literally write anywhere so I liked having that USB drive.

Then tragedy struck. I washed it. Not once, not twice but three times. After the third wash the drive began to malfunction so I transferred all the data to a new drive and for whatever reason that drive began to malfunction too. The day both drives quit and I couldn’t access my writing and I realized I hadn’t backed it up either was the day I decided I needed something better.

I went home that night uncertain of what I would do. I thought of using Google’s online editing program but honestly it just never worked that well for me, too many glitches and the load times were abysmal (I don’t know why and am not patient enough to figure it out). Then I remembered that I had Microsoft Word at home and decided hey… why not use Microsoft Online.

Since that fateful day I’ve discovered so many perks of using Microsoft Word/OneDrive. Perks I had NO IDEA existed and I wanted to share them with you, so you didn’t have to go through the same painful learning process I did (Don’t wash your USB drives!).

1. One Drive automatically loads to Microsoft Word

Of course you have to have an internet connection on your home computer but who doesn’t? When you open Microsoft Word it gives you the option to load from your personal drives or from OneDrive. From there you can access any files you have on the go and when you save them they’re saved again to OneDrive so you can leave your home computer and pick up where you left off anywhere there’s internet and a computer.

2. One Drive is mobile friendly

I have the One Drive app on my phone so I can log into my files from literally anywhere, even if there isn’t a computer. I HATE typing on phones though so I only use the app for proof reading.

3. Microsoft Word has a handy dandy ‘where you left off’ feature

WORDLEFTOFF

I LOVE this feature. It’s really as simple as it sounds. You log into a document and it’s all: OH YAY YOU’RE BACK! DO YOU WANT TO JUMP TO WHERE YOU LAST LEFT OFF? This eliminates a load of scrolling time and searching for the exact spot you were in. When you’re editing it’s especially useful because there’s no need for bookmarks or anything of the sort.

I don’t believe One Drive documents have the same perk but I only edit in Microsoft Word so it’s fine.

4. The Interface is Easy

I’ve heard so many complaints about the interface in Microsoft Word but honestly I have no issues with it. I’m not even sure why people don’t like it? It does what I need it to do and that’s all I want it to do. If I did have to complain my only complaint would be that I can’t figure out how to make it full screen. I love writing full screen with no tabs, word counts or other bars to distract me.

Speaking of distractions, this entire post has been a distraction! Haha. In conclusion Microsoft Word and One Drive have been an absolute joy to use for writing and editing. I am now truly mobile and I never have to worry about washing One Drive and corrupting the data!

If you’re looking to upgrade or wondering what program you should use, consider this power team. You can choose to pay up front ($100s) or you can pay monthly ($7 a month), which I think makes it an affordable program that is truly worth it!

And that’s what I have to say about that.

I have no idea how to end this.

I’ll just trail off awkwardly and …