A friend who knows me only online just called me "sweet." I did a very small thing - I remembered somebody's name.
But, see, I am NOT sweet. I'm a shrill, grouchy shrew. No, really, I am, and the more I say it, the more people think I'm joking.
Which is something about the internet that greatly interests me. On the internet you can become someone else.
In real life, I use language that could blister the paint on a fire engine. I'm known for taking out my computer frustrations on the keyboard. Once I slammed it with my fist so hard that the "escape" key shot up and hit the wall. This has become one of those Family Stories that one can never live down. "It sure wanted to escape! Ha ha!" And so forth.
I thought I was being very insightful once, when I admitted: "I'm a Type A personality."
"You're an A+, dear!" answered Dear Husband, with a warm smile.
"Aw, thanks, hon-- Hey, wait a minute..."
Yet online, I have a reputation (at least, in groups with more ordinary IQ levels - I live dangerously and hang around in one with a collective IQ that leaves me in the dust, so they might not be fooled) as being Calm, Wise, Mature, and even Kind!
They've never seen me when someone steals my shopping cart.
See, now, this is a big button I have, just waiting to be pushed by some Yeg out there in the real world. It makes me seethe. It causes me to reveal the nastiest side of my personality. The side that read Brave New World, ignored its message of dehumanization, and instead immediately began to delight in classifying people: "Eh, he thinks he's an Alpha Double Plus, but he's just a Beta." "This store is full of Gammas! I can't stand it!"
The only reason I've never made a scene in a store when my cart was stolen is that I can never identify the person who did it. I've stepped away to slap melons (This, by the way, is better than thumping them, for determining ripeness), and return to find my cart gone. On one occasion, a fair-sized stack of items I had placed in it was now lying on the floor. The miscreant who's violated me in this way is now aisles away and blending perfectly with the rest of the shoppers.
My nostrils flare. Lightning bolts shoot from my eyes.
DH finds me simply baffling. His philosophy of fighting battles is annoyingly sane: "How important is it?" he asks, decides that most trivial offenses like this aren't worth getting upset over, and gets another cart.
Trivial?! I snarl.
I have a mental picture of the cart thief. Only women do this. Obese women with the slack-jawed vacant stare that comes from the extreme mental exertion they must expend to decide who to vote off, on reality TV shows. Such a person is too stupid to realize she will want a cart and obtain one from the corral as she enters the store. Too lazy to go back out and get one. Too completely locked into the material world of expediency to consider that there's anyone else on the planet who counts. She has a Need. Something that will fill it is there in her field of vision. She takes it. The world exists for her to strip mine.
See? See how vicious I am? I'm an awful person.
But the internet lets me edit myself. I can write up a long rant dripping with acidic sarcasm, then say, "Ah! That felt good! Now...delete, delete..." I've done this enough times, and lived to be glad I had. I tore a self-righteous woman to shreds once, then deleted it, and later that day she returned with apologies, a mention of the stresses in her life, etc etc.
I learned long ago, the steam-release function of writing. Just writing. To no one. I once typed a lengthy letter to my college roomate on my electric typewriter -- with the machine turned off. I simply hit dead keys and vented everything. Then I got up from the chair and went to dinner, feeling about 1000% better.
But a lot of people don't seem to do this. They write, don't even reread it, and hit "send."
I don't get it. The internet is a golden opportunity for them to make themselves look nice. Kind and wise. They could be exactly who they've always wanted to b--
Wait. I think i just answered my own question.