The geography of the internet is a lot like the wilderness – wild, mostly inhospitable for humans and subject to volatile weather. The wind can be gentle and then all at once bring a fierce storm which threatens your life. The sun can be warm and invigorating or suddenly a scorching torment. One can find a diverse sampling of everything and it is often hard to tell what is safe to consume or is dangerous to your health. We need a shelter from cyberspace sometimes. A safe place from the raw elements which can threaten our health and sanity. The world wide web is an interesting place to visit but not a great place to live without some all-weather gear for protection from the elements.
I have travelled through and worked in the Arctic, the Rocky Mountains, the Kenyan jungle, several Arabian deserts, the French Pyrenees, the Mexican Andes, and skirted the Himalayas in India. In the wilderness, you wear protective clothing to shield you from the harsh weather, use a compass or GPS to keep your bearings, and you try not to stay too long.
For me, in the virtual wilderness, my protective clothing is discretion about the level of personal exposure I allow; keeping my bearings by remembering who I am is not defined by what people think of me; nurturing my relationships with those I trust and …choosing not to stay too long.
On the internet we can get a lot of feedback but it is usually an opinion of what was said and not a reflection (and who hasn’t been flamed?). This can be painful and confusing. Sometimes, it’s just better to talk to a real person. One who is not volatile or unpredictable and who has the compassion to hear what I’m saying. When a good listener uses reflective listening I get to hear what I’m thinking, instead of what everyone else thinks and it is much easier and safer to make sense of what is going on inside me. Then I can figure out what needs to change.
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