When I say balance, I mean common sense and sanity.
Once upon a time, we had the sad occasion of watching as a man we love deeply had his life ripped apart by a trifling woman. It was tragic really, and I say that with all that the word tragic implies, not a hint of hyperbole intended. To make matters worse, her church absolved her, laying the lion’s share of the suffering he was enduring at his own feet because he wasn’t *Christian* enough, as if she didn’t know that about him before she married him.
Things like that heighten your senses, changing your focus and tightening your lens onto similar instances. Just as you notice an overwhelming uptick in Honda Pilots on the road as soon as you buy one, you see evidence of that thing you despise every where you look. You want to say something about it, or even try to do something to help, drawing from your own perceived success. The Internet enables you to do so cost free and effortlessly and in another Internet life, I set out to do just that. I know others who have done similar.
After a while however, as life goes on and your vision widens back out to normal, you start to see the variations of life and its struggles once again. You start getting out, building relationships, living and growing.Your indignation tempers and sanity kicks back in. You become more balanced.
Some of your worst suspicions about human nature are confirmed, but also some of your hope in the redemption of human nature is restored. You remember once again that left to our own devices, we all suck. Some more than others, but we all suck. Men, women, boys, girls, wives and husbands. Redemption is a universal need and selfishness is a universal trait that we all have to work out of our systems.
Even as you possess full cognizance of the system we live in, you learn to deal with people on an individual basis, with unique stories and experiences. They’re not just a part of some imaginary team you’ve cooked up or part of the system. They are just like you, a person trying to live their life to the best of their ability.
Some of the people you encounter really do suck eggs big time, but not specifically because they are a man, or a woman, or black, or white, or Republican, or Democrat. They would suck no matter what wrapping they came in because character is internal. Herein lies the problem when you’ve entered the alternate reality of Internet niche culture one way, then grow into someone more sane.
In the real world, growth is a part of life, and while it may cause the occasional bit of awkwardness with your nearest and dearest as they adjust to the newest iteration of you, you eventually get on with it. You can do that with people who know several different sides of you. Not so online.
On the Internet, balance doesn’t indicate growth. It indicates that you are now the enemy, unprincipled, and have switched to the other team. While the Internet is populated with real people, it doesn’t leave room for the nuances and grace associated with real life.
Make sure to have some friends, at least one. The kind whose table you can sit around with a cup of tea, a glass of wine, or a beer.