Long before texts and social media, elevators were the most common place that people would infiltrate another’s personal space bubble. Most oncoming passengers would be courteous and fill the most logical gap in the box with standing room only, and some would even wave the cramped crowd inside onto the floor of their destination. Cyberspace is now where personal space is more valuable than a Titanic artifact.
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” a famous quote from The Godfather movie, is based on the premise is that it’s wise to stay close to your enemies in order to be aware of anything they could be plotting against you, but maybe not knowing is wiser. Not knowing often entails sanctifying our own personal space not only physically, but virtually as well.
When someone oversteps our physical energy field, we can simply lean back. We may even choose to leave the room or the building in order to get away from the offensive person, but when someone bursts into our personal space bubble on cyberspace, we need to fiercely defend our perimeter of comfort.
Online encroachment makes us more than uncomfortable; we feel hacked and all out of whack. Revisiting cyber-offense is only a click away. We may find ourselves typing responses that are uncustomarily rude and hurtful in retaliation for an affront that, if presented to us in person, would have garnered a more courteous response. In person, we realize that the offender is not a virtual human, but an actual human being who deserves respect and perhaps some compassion.
This isn’t to say, we shouldn’t protect ourselves from online vultures, but to reinforce that we should employ civilized means when dealing with those on social media who attempt, often successfully so, to suck us into an uncivilized cyber world where feelings don’t really get hurt and common courtesy flies out the virtual window.
“Ignorance is bliss,” might be the better policy by which to adhere by according to poet Thomas Gray. Often the consequences of spending time in the same proximity as those people who wish you harm, is just not worth the toll it pays on your health and vitality.
In order to stay oblivious and I would contend, happy today, one must create virtual boundaries for would-be social predators. Block those people whose posts you no longer enjoy, delete those comments posted to your site that are designed to instigate negativity and provoke arguments and perhaps, more difficult and most important of all, ignore those comments aimed directly at you. Feeding the comments only fuels the toxic fire already burning. Snuff it out by not breathing any vital air into it.
The effects of cyber-drama lasts for longer than an elevator ride and is more intensely felt than having our foot stepped on. Escaping from physically uncomfortable situations where the offender is within a hands reach can be easier than fleeing from those who intrude on your cyberspace. Just remember, sanctifying your cyberspace is as critical to your overall well-being as is protecting your home — your true home, your soul, is present in both spaces.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. Access more at soundcloud.com\lifespeaks.