Transcending the Boundaries of Reality

So, I’m minding my own business, listening to the radio in my car and driving the kids home from school yesterday when I hear a little sound come from my purse. It’s a cross between a tinkle and a chime and I’ve only heard it a few times.

The sound reminds me of the stuff fairies spread around when they’re trying to be all magical and mysterious – you know, fairy dust.

My boys have heard it, as well as the boy I drive home from school every day, and I sort of grimace an apology in the rear-view mirror and wait until I’ve come to a complete stop at a stop light (because I’m responsible like that, especially when I have three very impressionable teenage boys who are watching my every move in the car with me) to dig my cell phone out of my purse.

There was a curious little thought bubble with various letters haphazardly scattered within the structure and flashing on the screen.

I had a text message.

Curious, I navigated to the note and began reading.

It was a DM (which means a direct message in Twitter talk – you can set up direct messages so that you get them on your cell phone) to a Twitter I posted earlier. A well-known blogger responded to my comments; how nice that she took the time to respond privately to me!

A gamut of emotions ran through me as I read that text message: disbelief, excitement, awe, embarrassment and … discomfort. It was a little bit disconcerting to face my online persona in real life. It’s one thing to “be” someone online, it’s quite another when that person steps over the cyber boundaries and stares you in the face.

I wouldn’t say I disliked the fact that someone from my online world had contacted me in real life, in fact, I’d say it was pretty exciting, but the experience gave me pause. It’s so easy to be this … person online. It’s easier for me to share my thoughts and feelings online because I don’t have the (dis)advantage of instant feedback via facial expressions or responses. I can voice my thoughts online and then simply walk away – chances are, I’ve forgotten what I wrote by the time I get back on my computer. I’m not a person who sits and dwells on things – I’m the epitome of the saying, “out of sight, out of mind.”

So, to have something I said come back and tap me on the shoulder in real life is … strange. But exciting at the same time. It also reinforces the need to be careful about what I say and who I say it to because with today’s technologies, it’s very easy to transcend the boundaries of reality and shove it back into my face.

Writing online is such a delicate balance of honesty and discretion. It’s important to have an opinion, but it’s equally important to have a tactful opinion. There really is an art to communicating with one another. I’m not saying I’ve mastered that art, but I like to think I’ve picked up a thing or two from my years of being online.

And one of the lessons I learned today? Be careful what you Tweet. 🙂