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10:04 a.m. - January 31, 2007
Real Life
A few things have happened that have made me realize something important.

All of this, what we do online, here, MySpace, message boards, wherever, is fine and fun and you meet interesting people. But thereís no room for drama, or hatred, or silly petty squabbles or fights. Real life is what itís all about.

I know, I know, pot kettle black, but hear me out.

Today, I read Boxx9000 (locked) and she wrote about a bad car crash. Everyone is OK, though there were some injuries, but it still scared the bejeebus out of everyone. I can only imagine what Iíd be going through if a loved one of mine was in a car crash that serious and scary.

If you read my MySpace blogs, I wrote about my friend, The Queen Of Pabst. She called my cell phone on Monday a bit loopy and out of it. This is odd, because she normally doesnít call my cell phone during a work day.

It turns out that her stepson has been in Riley Childrenís Hospital in Indianapolis after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Hereís an article about it. Now, they did get some info wrong, according to her, because she and her husband, Rob, have been at the hospital since it happened, and Robís ex-wife hasnít been there all of the time.

But still, when she told me, I was floored. When they got married recently, they blended together two sets of boys ranging from 9-12 (I think), from third grade to sixth grade with no one in the same grade. No doubt, their little house up in true BFE land was wild with all of that testosterone, but they were having a great time from what I heard.

Now, this happens. I just canít imagine. I canít even fathom to think about it. One minute, all is well, and the next minute theyíre life-lining your child to the hospital.

Iíve made sure Iíve given my girls extra hugs this week.

Then, I read the series of entries that Yvonne had posted about a horrific car crash that claimed the life of a classmate of her youngest son.

Itís a tragedy because a young life has been snuffed out. Itís a tragedy because high school kids shouldnít have to deal with grief and loss of a peer.

The big tragedy, of course, is how it happened. Alcohol was involved, and from what she says, the kids were having a party where the parents were supplying the liquor.

Now, I have heard of parents doing that but not allowing anyone to drive until the next morning, when the hangovers subside and everyone has had breakfast. Better to have kids in a safe and secure environment if they are going to drink. And Lord knows, teenagers WILL drink (most of them, anyway). Teaching teens to be responsible about alcohol should be high on a parentís list of things to do as they grow older, because the repercussions are huge if you ignore it or bury your head in the sand about it.

But it seems that these parents are just trying to be the Ďcoolí parents, and not stopping anyone from leaving if theyíve had a few pops. Thatís pathetic. If the parents are supplying the alcohol, they have to be responsible for the actions of the kids if they donít control them.

I know there is a lot of guilt and pain and loss up there, but there should be some anger too, as this is a horrible tragedy that need not have happened.

Thatís real life for her and her family Ė much more important than the online life.

So this leads me to the online life.

Now, I have been in some online drama lately, both here and in MySpace. And over at MySpace Iíve also seen a couple of other friends in some serious online drama.

Itís not worth it.

Whether you call them Ďfriendsí or Ďacquaintancesí or what not, it doesnít matter. At one point, you connected with this person in some way, and now thereís a fight, argument, or dispute. But itís all virtual Ė it doesnít really affect your day to day life and work.

And it could look very bad.

When you write in public blogs, essays, and diaries about the online drama you can look vindictive, petty, ugly, and spiteful. Even if youíre in the clear, and you think you are on the right side of the issue, it still looks bad on you. People who stumble into it just think you may be a crazy loon with a chip on your shoulder.

You can also look sad and pathetic, like you are trying to cover tracks. Wearing the hairshirt online doesnít look good. Itís still airing dirty laundry out in public, even if you are trying to clean it up.

Yes, pot kettle black, I know. I know. But hear me out, again.

But then, if you change passwords or lock up right after a tiff with someone, seemingly for the sole purpose of talking about them behind their back and not have them face your words also looks bad upon the person. Just like taking personal notes addressed solely to an individual, and forwarding them onto third parties, or posting them for people to see in other places.

I do realize people are locked and they have good reasons for locking up, but to lock up or change a password just for spite, to enhance the drama, or to talk about someone without the guts to say those things to their face, isnít right. And Iím not just talking about my drama, either. Iíve seen this before and Iíve been uncomfortable when Iíve read it Ė squeamish even.

Then thereís the reflexive deleting of people from lists based on an argument. Itís like *poof*, youíre gone. Yes, Iíve deleted my share of people, but if I was friendly with someone I always tried to work it out (and really, try too hard to do that) and not just shrug my shoulders and move on, like the past didnít exist.

That seems to be the course that online drama takes. Itís a misunderstanding gone horrifically wrong with overreactions, passive aggressive behaviors and other nonsense and most of the time itís something that could have been settled with a sit down lunch or something if people were in the same area.

Instead of rationally working it out, other people get dragged into it and then the casual readers and friends are wondering what itís all about.

But itís just not worth it. Not at all.

Friday, I was having a great day, until I accidentally clicked on a profile, and saw, to my horror, a blatant attempt at a passive aggressive swipe in a profile. That ired me so, and I responded in kind on my MySpace profile.

After the game I covered, I called a friend, who is no stranger to drama. She had the best advice for me. ďMove on. Forget about it. Delete that. Itís not worth it. Focus on your real life and let the online friends fall where they may.Ē

So I did. I also took all of the postings of the drama down forever. I also deleted all of the emails and notes that caused the drama in the first place. They are gone forever as well. I apologized to those who I thought were stuck in the middle and tried to make peace. I think thatís a giant step.

But then, those three events all happened and I read them early this week, and now Iím more convinced that it was the right step to take. I love my online friends Ė they make me laugh and are great to pass the time. But itís not who I am. I am Smed Ė husband, father, music lover, Advancement Services professional, sportswriter, and generally a good person. (Iíd like to think so.) Iím not perfect Ė I make mistakes. I want everyone to be my friend, and thatís probably why I get myself into a mess now and then. But now Iím realizing itís just not worth it.

I ask all of you currently in online imbroglios with people to re-examine the feud, make amends, admit mistakes, and bury the hatchet. You obviously had a relationship before Ė itís not worth it to keep up the bile or the underlying angst. Make your peace. Yes, the relationship will be different. Sure. But make your peace.

Send this around to others that are also in these petty squabbles. Itís just not worth it Ė your real life is where you should be focused. Donít get caught up in this mess. Make your peace.

Of course, if someone is truly deranged, or is a real threat physically and emotionally, then you should keep them far, far away from you. However, if it's just an argument between people many miles away from each other that spiraled out of control, make your peace.

And when real life kicks you in the teeth, you will have the support of friends, both1 real and online, to help you out.


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