In wine country, this time of year brings the runny noses, the deep coughs and the irritable allergy response from the pollen in the air.
And it’s glorious.
This weekend, we celebrated the Superb Owl by taking our yearly photos in the mustard flowers. This weekend, I watched my friend Kristen targeted by internet commenters about the way she shares her family online.
The words we currently have for that kind of targeting, of relentless negative commentary sound like physical threats. When someone’s being targeted online, the words we have to describe it removes focus from what’s really happening.
Yes, it’s unlikely that that threat isn’t real, but my brain can’t yet distinguish between these internet threats and real life ones.
If I have 100 acquaintances, and 3 don’t like me, that’s normal. I can deal with that.
If I have a public internet presence with 100,000 visitors and 3,000 don’t like me and they tell me all about it every day, that’s not normal. I cannot deal with that. Even thought the math makes sense, my brain cannot handle the load of having 3,000 people not like me. My brain’s reaction to a perceived threat doesn’t scale like that.
What do I deserve to get by putting up these photos of my children? What form of punishment is enough for me? When does the internet majority decide to turn on me? When will I get what I deserve?
The network has outpaced my ability to process it.
Maybe my kids will have an advantage. The advantage of a structure, of new neural networks, of language to describe it.
Maybe they’ll be less unkind online.