Telling stories is hard work, telling those same stories on the internet is a form of madness. As once you go public with any sort of story, you open yourself up to all sorts of unexpectedness.
A funny story about how the food rules do not apply to Monty, after the rotten bugger ate a WHOLE KILO of cherries. Led to a flurry of concerned messages telling me to take that dog to the vet immediately or the dog will surely die and I will be sorry. No matter that we had been keeping a close eye on the greedy fool and that I shared the story a good eight hours after the fact.
A light hearted dig at the ridiculous Stoner Sloth ad campaign leads to a messaged accusation that I am glorifying drug use.
People do not read a story in isolation, they never consider the words on their own, because of course they read through their own lens of experience. And you will always upset someone, no matter how innocuous or well intentioned your words are, someone will always be pissy.
As a long time writer of words published on the internet, I have become used to some people not understanding what I have said. Even when I know my words are as clear as day, people still miss crucial bits and I am left baffled as to how on earth they managed to arrive at a conclusion poles apart from the point I was making.
When I was elected President of the Tasmanian Ceramics Association in 2012, the outgoing President gave what I thought was a lovely speech at the AGM. My favourite speeches are the short ones that stick to the topic at hand and this President was a whizz at giving good speeches. Later on I was taken aside by X and quietly told all that was wrong with that particular speech and to remember X‘s advice when I gave my own presidential speeches. As X thought it was dreadfully remiss that the committee had not been thanked at length. So of course, the following year, I had a list of all the people that needed to be thanked. I made sure I spoke gratefully and honestly about my appreciation of the effort and time spent running the association. Later on I was taken aside by Z and told that my gracious speech thanking everyone, was in fact a terrible speech, as it made those people who had not dedicated any hours feel very guilty, and in future speeches I should be careful about who and how I thank people.
For Fucks Sake internet, you can not win. Once you do anything publicly you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I try and keep sections of my life compartmentalised, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. I well remember the dislocation and horror I felt when Mum was dying and her boss at Brighton Council gave everyone the link to this blog. Mum and I had decided that the best way to disseminate information quickly was to publish it here, we assumed it would just be close friends and family reading, not zillions of people. That decision certainly stopped my telephone from ringing off the hook but it also catapulted frog ponds rock from being a semi anonymous space where I spoke mostly to other internet users, to a very public record of a hitherto unknown side of Kim Foale.
One upside was that one particularly aggressive local stopped trying to run me off the road because his wife now read my blog and discovered I wasn’t a radical green feral trying to ruin his livelihood, I was an artist and that is why I was a bit odd. One downside was that everything I wrote was then commented on and dissected by people who were not my target audience. People would get furiously angry with me for writing about them, when in fact I was making sweeping generalisations, or commenting on society as a whole, not any individual in particular.
I do not write my words on the internet lightly, every post I publish is carefully crafted and edited. I think about what I am saying and what I am prepared to offer. I weigh how much pain the reactions will cause me versus my need to clear my head. Sometimes I press publish, sometimes the simple act of writing is enough and I save the words to my drafts file.
Perception is a strange thing. Ego is even stranger. I am not responsible for your interpretations of my words, I am responsible for telling my stories honestly.