One very long thought about one little ugly message may be just foolishness or it may be not.
What seems like a very long ago, I can remember buying my first computer. It was a very simple machine by today’s standards. It was not new. I bought it off this nice couple. The wife was pleasant. I was not concerned with the price as much as the fear of buying something that would burst into flames or simply not work when I got it home. She reassured me it was fine and I trusted her judgement because she reflected such sincere honesty which I could read from her eyes as well as from her body language and manner.
They wanted a new computer they said which was going to do something faster. What that meant I was not at all sure but I decided to purchase my first computer. It was paid for with paper money notes and I was secure in my thoughts that this was going to be a good investment. The husband gave me two small boxes saying that I could have them as they would not be needing them. He said it was the operation backup system of the computer and probably written in basic. I took them gratefully but had no idea what he had said but left with these tiny boxes and my very new used computer.
As it turned out, I did discover how to use it, very slowly. Strange terms evoked a sense of wonderment but as I discovered later, I never did get around using those two boxes of floppy disks.
Another mile stone in my computer life came later when I hooked up with the strange perplexing forever changing, always something new to learn, internet. I could hear a strange sound all the time I was connecting across the long outreaching phone line. With my computer and a browser window, I discovered new and exciting things I did not know before.
I can not remember each and every new learning experience but I do recall this one time message, vividly. I suspect my memory was scribed lightly with one single tear drop that wanted to slide down my cheek but got held back as I read a very horrid message. It was to be my very first message on this new invention. It was not so much the words that caused me pain, as it was the intensity of the message. Had I done something wrong? Were the words true and my intentions all wrong. I shuttered and closed the computer off thinking perhaps all my happiness in the purchase of this new tool was misplaced and this had been an utter mistake. Yet, despite this thought I did turn the switch once more only to find something totally different other than this previous negative thought.
I had unknowingly entered something called a board relay something or other. I was very interested in writing at that time and this seemed to be about writing. While using this mailing message sending box system thing, I was neither sure of its workings or why the thing was there in the first place really. I had arrived there by choosing to insert words somewhere else, all very confusing to say the least. There would be a message there about it infrequently. I think it was one or two messages per month, if I recall.
One day, I decided to ask a question? Since my interest at that time was a struggle with writing in general and I sincerely wanted to learn more about it, I proposed a simple question to this relay message thing. My principle activity while using my new wonderful computer tool was to attempt to write things which could be saved to something inside the computer. The internet allowed me to sometimes read things and to learn what the internet was about. The idea of how I could use my computer as a communication device had not yet occurred to me.
I can not remember the exact question I asked only that it was a general question about writing itself. Writing to me has always been about expressing myself using a medium of some contrivance, not really about anything vocational. The response that brought me such sadness was one of angry contempt. It basically told me that my question was better put somewhere else, that I should not be using this box, and that if I thought I was a writer I was badly mistaken for a writer would already have the answer to this question and would not need to be asking it. Now, that was the message as best as memory will allow but may not qualify as far as the general overall nasty tone goes.
On returning to my computer inside box (stuff that would mysteriously come into the machine when I would hear the strange sound) I was surprised to see another message and then in another day another message followed by still another and another in succeeding days until quiet once again resumed. It seems that my one question had ignited a whole stream of responses. My amazement was how something so unresponsive could become so alive with just one dumb question from me.
The responses were something of this nature. This message board relay system thing was created for the purpose of helping and assisting anyone learning to write. If you can not answer one simple question from a user without resorting to a flame then perhaps you should stop using this thing. This person is making an honest attempt to use this service for the purpose of learning how to write, we were all there once and your disregard for the effort simply shows a completely wrong attitude regarding this system thing.
The rest of the messages supported that one above and I can only say changed my way of looking at writing. Yes, though I was hurt initially, it was the realization that not everyone would agree that rang out so true. Perhaps more importantly that the idea that only the experienced need apply was not always the best mandate. As a beginner, I could continue to learn through out my life and something offer up, if only small notions of expression.
The lesson I got for writing generally was more philosophical. Regardless if another human attempts to shut your writing down, attempts to devaluate or try’s to stop you from entering their domain, you can continue on to maintain the one thing that can not be taken away from you. The motivation to write. We all have a need to express ourselves and regardless of what others write about you, we still can learn. An angry message can inflict injury but it may not be able to kill the spirit for writing.
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