5 Behaviors that Permeate the Internet

The internet's social sphere is a high school hallway filled with lockers. Just like in high school, you walk the halls and see faces you recognize and others give you pause, "She goes here? Wahh?" You observe people frantically trying to remember combinations and then busting into lockers and opening the doors wide. You see some doors slamming shut quickly, so as not to expose the contents within. Some doors are all tagged up with bumper stickers and photos. Others are bare, ain't nobody got time to decorate. The hallway is big enough but its population is dense. Sometimes it's Darwinian; the meek and the small can easily get shoved around. You're best served if you know your destination and seek it out with laser focus, rather than get jammed up by some middle-of-the-hallway conversation that's going to keep you from getting to class on time. Students Resting in the Hall Against Their Lockers Waiting for Class at Senior High School in New Ulm, Minnesota...

I've been a member of several online forums, am active in social media and have maintained this blog for over ten years now. All of these experiences have exposed me to some recognizable behaviors. I'm tempted to say it has exposed me to certain types of people. But the unique aspect of online communication is that there are no people. There are only the marks of people: their writings, their photographs, sometimes their facades. I have observed a pattern of certain behaviors that emerge. I wonder if you've observed them, too.

    I. Howling like a Coyote

- the tendency to howl loudly with high pitch that HEY, I'M HERE. HEAR ME HOWL? Marks of coyote behavior: update Twitter, Facebook to indicate exceedingly amazing things happening in their own domain; Instagram updates include smiling faces, always. Often "speaks" over other's posts - will howl more loudly and share a more amazing story of their adventure, their childrens' accomplishments, their experience in overcoming this trial Favorite punctuation form: !!!

Coyotes in traps,  1909-1918

    II. Hovering like a hyena

- the tendency to lurk often and then only emerge when there is prey to seize. Marks of hyena behavior: will stay quiet as Facebook friends for months and at the first sight of a controversial post, emerge and are ready to pounce with claws and fangs showing Favorite punctuation form: ???

Caged canines, Lord John Sanger & Sons

    III. Prancing like a rainbow unicorn

- the tendency to be the Delilah of the internet Marks of kitten licking behavior: always has a silver lining to offer on the dreariest of posts, is always the one offering hugsies across internet lines, always offers a "You're so pretty" even if it's the umpteenth selfie posted on Instagram today Favorite punctuation form: :) :)

The Third Term Panic

    IV. Barking like a guard dog

- the tendency to educate, fundraise, or draw attention to a cause or angle, often with a sense of urgency, or dripping with guilt Marks of guard dog behavior: Lots of solicitations to Sign this petition on change.org, buy this product, avoid this product or your eyeballs will fall out Favorite punctuation form: :O

Small, brindle-marked dog posed on table in studio

    V. Huddling like a turtle

- the tendency only to lurk and watch life happening through the internet portal, never emerging to make contact but rather preferring the safety and comfort of one's own protective shell. Marks of turtle behavior: Member of forums though never posts, reader of blogs though never comments Favorite punctuation form:...

Thomas Brown on a Loggerhead turtle

I have surely been guilty of all the above forms. What behaviors have you observed?

Me Do This Summer

I start back to teaching this week, so I thought I'd glance back LIKE LOT'S WIFE OHHH NOOOO and take stock of how well I managed to complete my summer bucket list.

From June 7, 2012: A list of summer must-dos in no particular order: 1. Organize clips + build professional website Here it be! 2. Complete sabbath school lesson project (Um, 1 out of 4 ain't bad?) 3. Publish an essay or two (Oh, haha. About that...) 4. Hunter Museum (It'll still be there next month, right?) 5. Salted Caramel ice cream from Mitchell's in Cleveland, OH 6. Fit back into all of my summer shorts 7. Read at least 4 books for pleasure (2 out of 4 ain't bad?) 8. Complete Photoshop professional growth course 9. Take a hike in Asheville 10. Learn to make some new summer salads

Love, laugh, floss, bike, smooch, read, friend, mom, wife, summer like it's an action verb.

comfy seats


Good Riddance

You know the Mirror of Truth that Stacey and Clinton hype up on "What Not to Wear"? What do they call it again? The chamber of mirrors where no belly bulge or flood pants leg goes unnoticed? I used to feel as though I lived in that chamber and maybe I still do, but Stacey with her oppressive humor and Clinton with his flamboyant helpfulness are not quite as loud for me. In fact, I can barely hear their voices. Are they even here anymore?

It's not enough to see our reflection in the mirror or to feel the gaze of judgey peeps casting glances YES THAT TRAIN IS CONNECTED TO MY BODY. Now we have the online onlookers peering through the wide window of Fakebook and sundry and various other portals.

Naturally, I am NEVER GUILTY of logging onto the Fakebook for the sole purpose of just...you know...checking up on some peeps. You know, like, to see how they're doing. And if they're still photogenic.

Let's talk about living in our bodies, let's talk about what it's like to live in this little 4'10" body, shall we?

And while we're at it, let's talk about a whole history of disordered eating and going through half a bottle of TUMS in a week. Let's talk about years of recovery, let's talk about thousands of dollars of therapy, let's talk about being glad just for the ability to have children because of the things I have done to this healthy body with which I was blessed.

Or not.

Rather, let's talk about how I am grateful for the past that is behind me but how I keep making the What Not to Wear Chamber of Mirrors even more a reality for others when I perseverate on my or others' appearance.

Let's talk about how incredibly hard it was for me to lose weight this summer. But how I did it, and how I count it a victory.

To review, I moved last year from a place where I had the luxury of Baby Boot Camp 3x a week and walking everywhere to having to squeeze in dinky treadmill work-outs and driving everywhere. Throw in a major ankle sprain in the spring and I started the summer looking five months pregnant. Uggggggh.

So I took a picture of myself in April which I shall not share with Stacey, Clinton, or the internets and then I Photoshopped it next to the photo I took of myself today. And I can honestly say that working out 5-6x a week helped my outer appearance.

But moreso, I can tell you what no Chamber of Mirrors and what no Fakebook Portal will show about what happened to me on the inside. This summer, I learned that I CAN keep a fitness regimen and I am a better person for it. I know some may count it as selfish, but given the stresses of this past summer (some of which I have written about and plenty I have not), I am simply proud to have lost 5 lbs. and not gained them.

There really aren't enough doughnuts in the world to eat all the feelings I have had this past summer, but there are surely enough minutes in the day to get the neurons firing and the blood pumping and the serotonin raising. The hot yoga and the 5k and the rowing are all my friends.

Next stop: Getting out of the obesity bracket in order to reduce my life insurance premium. Kids, if you thought being a grown-up couldn't get any better, well, there you go. This adult stuff is CRAAAAZAAAAY FUNTIMES!