Monday, January 7, 2008

Brutal Honesty

Sometimes I go through the documents on my computer and delete some of them, worrying about what people might think of me if I were to die today and my friends and family were to go through my computer files. There is just a lot of poorly written, fragmented, unfinished, unpolished, and wrong-headed writing on here.

Whenever I get a friend request on MySpace or Facebook I first look over my profile to see if anything on there will offend them, and think about what I can add to it to make them think I am funny or cool. The latter effort is often fruitless.

From time to time I perform a "vanity search" on Google, trying to find everything on the internet with my name on it. I then try to either delete or edit the page, or do anything to maintain the landscape of my internet identity. To the person who only finds out about me online, whatever it is that exists online that has my name on it constitutes my identity. The same thing is true I suppose on MySpace and Facebook. And that bothers me.

I hate the thought of people judging me. My old blog is embarrassing to me. This blog is embarrassing to me. Dude, like future employers could find this stuff. I've hidden everything I know how to on my Amazon profile (except my wishlist - ha!).

I had the opportunity to deliver my first "sermon" or message or whatever in "big church" about a month ago at Thryve in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Afterwards I was afraid to go anywhere. I didn't want to be recognized. I didn't want people to look to the guest preacher as an example of a Christian, or worse - as an example of Christ. And it happened. A bunch of people recognized me in various coffee shops around town, and also at Papa Murphy's Take-and-Bake Pizza. I hate it. Don't look at me. Don't watch my computer screen. Don't ask me what I'm working on. Go away.

I am afraid of what my cousin Chris thinks of me, because I feel like we talk about religion too much, and I argue with him sometimes online. Like, he doesn't have a good sample of my beliefs or behaviors. Do you think I am a crazy wacko fundamentalist Evangelical? Wait - am I?

I still work hard to impress my wife, and I worry about whether she thinks I'm cool. Every time I write anything down or have the opportunity to teach something or anytime I feel like I have good advice or something funny to say I want her to perceive it and esteem it.

I try to impress my friends a lot, too.

I always make a fool of myself in front of new girls I meet. And the thing is - I both don't care at all because I am married and I don't even like other girls, and I care all too much because I want to be cool.

I worry about people seeing pictures of me with alcoholic beverages in my hand on MySpace or Facebook or Flickr (oh yeah, Flickr - another source of concern for me!) and judging me as a bad Christian, even though I have specific anthropological, Biblical, and theological reasons for drinking.

I don't have such reasons for smoking cigars, but I choose to do so anyway, and I worry about people judging me for it.

I could easily go on about the permanence of the internet, not to mention photographs, much less videos and audio recordings - and the fear of my shortcomings being immortalized. Moreover, every action anyone does will cause each person to eternally have the quality of having performed that action at that time. Profound. It demotivates me from writing blogs and broadcasting YouTube videos.

And from talking to people, trying new things, committing, being ambitious, being courageous...


  1. I think you're cool, so you can stop worrying about me.

  2. I can relate to your worries. Is it a sanguine thing? I can't believe I've given in to Dave calling me that.

  3. ha! (Amanda) I think it's an issue sanguines are more prone to, but certainly something we all deal with. It seems to me more rooted in pride, though. I deal with the very same thoughts and feelings, though probably less often. Augustine says pride is the root of all sin. I may or may not agree with this (I haven't yet decided)...

  4. Dude. The first thing of mine that came up as the first hit of a google searh of my name was this string on a Donnie Darko thread from a yahoo group on that movie. Someone opined that they thought the movie was demonstrating that 'everything is relative', including morality. I responded to this ridiculous claim by saying something else equally ridiculous. I said that if the movie was demonstrating that 'everything is relative' then it was incoherent for the movie to paint Patrick Swayze's character's deeds in a negative light. But I was explicit about what his character did in the movie, and as soon as I posted it, I got kicked off of the yahoo group for bringing up an 'inappropriate topic'. (Oh, the irony). But anyway, since I was banned from the thread I couldn't edit or delete the post. I didn't think anyone would ever find it. But about two years later my parents asked me about it! I'm not ashamed of what I wrote, but I think prudence would have demanded that I should be carefull what I post, given how my internet name can be easily associated with something I don't want it to be associated with.

    Probably my faux pas par excellence was not showing up for my senior theis presentation at Biola. That shameful incident is mostly behind me now... But I still get nervous about that whenever I step foot on Biola's campus.

  5. Re Dave: I think a lot of my skittish behavior with people and the worrying I do over my relationships is related to fear. But I think that pride can sometimes be the deeper root of that fear (i.e., not wanting to be discovered as less than they think I should be, or than I think I should be). Thanks for the thoughts.

  6. Thanks Babe.
    Thanks Derek, that's hilarious.
    Amanda and David, I think a lot of my hang-ups sprout from pride. The truly humble thing for me to do is move forward and generate in the best direction I know how, according to the paradigm drawn by the best fit lines made by my limited, tentative, dynamic data set.

  7. but fear too definitely and sometimes predominantly

  8. Louis. I cannot relate to your position at all because I am maximally cool and funny and smart and beautiful and etcetera.
    Oh, and you should come to my birthday party because otherwise it won't be fun or funny or good and I'll feel horrible about myself on account of your not validating our friendship, and thereby my self-worth.
    With the utmost sincerity,
    Jonathan Charles Wright

  9. "louis:

    you're alright!

    peace out,


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