On the Panopticon and Being Discussed by Strangers . . . or Be Careful What You Click On

I had a weird experience the other day. I was checking out the stats on my other (not-about-writing) blog. There was a noticeable uptick in the number of views.  In exploring the details of where the viewers were coming from, I noticed that quite a few came from the same source. I copied and pasted the source URL into my browser to see what was going on.

overheard

It was some kind of conversation forum where a bunch of peeps were discussing shoes, outfits, style, and the like. One person had posted a link to some pics of me for the other forum peeps to look at as an example of someone whose style was similar to her own. Her forum-buddies chimed in their various opinions. Apparently I was found lacking and the poster was deemed superior in every way.

That wasn’t the weird part– indeed, as the Interweebs goes, everyone was quite civil. Plus I’ve already been to the 8th grade, so I am aware that people put each other down, damn with faint praise, and act all judgy (I sometimes– to my continung chagrin– do so myself). Nevertheless it was weird to be discussed by people I didn’t know. It was kind of like being in the bathroom stall in a public washroom and overhearing people you don’t know talk about you. I also felt strange about being in the forum and reading what they wrote without them knowing I was there seeing their comments. Until this year I’ve stayed off social media, and avoided participating in blog comments sections and other such places, preferring to lurk and just check out what others say. I suppose entering the panopticon was inevitable, and so were the vague unsettled feelings that come with it.

It’s funny, I was totally prepared- when starting my blogs- for people to write and say mean, nasty, horrible, and unreasonable things. So far, no one has. But I didn’t expect to be unsettled by ‘overhearing’ discussions.

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