Managing myself

One big thing that changed for me in 2015 is that I started really chatting again.

Much of my online life, starting with BBSes back in 1993, had been chatting. Talking directly to people. Making friends. With the advent of social media, my chatting, just like my blogging, declined. I started saying a lot of the stuff I’d say in private chats on Twitter instead. I liked the idea that I had a lasting record—my chat logs up until 2005 were lost in the fire. When I started using Facebook, a place where I could specify who was allowed to see my posts, I chatted even less. For a long time—years—I would chat with people here and there, but never regularly. Mom was the sole exception.

That changed early last year when I started meeting people in the Welcome to Night Vale fandom on Tumblr. At the time, Tumblr didn’t have their Messaging system, and Asks and Fanmail were too clunky for the kind of natural conversations I enjoy. So I started asking people if they wanted to chat with me on an actual chat service. At first I had several people on Google Talk, but then, when it became apparent that the majority were on Skype, we all shifted over there. Eventually a group chat formed, something I hadn’t really done since I stopped using IRC many years ago.

I don’t think I realized how disconnected I’d felt until I started chatting again. I only have a few local friends other than people I interact with at work. So I wasn’t really talking much with anyone. Suddenly I have this circle of wonderful friends who I care deeply about. It’s been quite a change.

I’ve made some big mistakes. I haven’t been as sensitive as I could have been. I can be extremely hurtful when I’m depressed. I say things I would never otherwise say. I don’t drink, but I imagine it’s similar to that, having my inhibitions lowered to the point that I’ll just spew whatever garbage I’m feeling. In one incident that I still haven’t quite recovered from, I really hurt a friend’s feelings. She suggested wisely that when I am feeling depressed, I should just stop typing. In another, more recent incident, I was feeling overwhelmed by the dynamics of a relationship and acted out, and upon rereading I was horrified to see what a bully I had been.

All of this is context for the following. Last night, I started feeling horrible again. I felt disconnected, down on myself, and angry that people did not care in the exact way I wanted them to care. Everything people said—stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with me—made me mad. And so instead of staying in that environment and possibly saying something awful, I politely excused myself for the evening.

It felt odd. Unnatural. I tend to just get online and stay online. But taking a break is what I needed to do. I’m happy that I recognized that and did it and did not say something cruel to people I love.

I’m pretty scared of my potential to hurt other people. I will continue to be mindful of my moods and the effect they have on my behavior.