I used to be braver.
I used to share my thoughts more freely. From a college-wide chat room in the late 80s, AOL in the 90s, blogs and forums in the 00s, and Facebook and Twitter in the 10s, I wrote without second-guessing myself.
I don’t do that anymore.
A few years ago, I dropped off the internet. I deleted Twitter and Facebook, stopped posting on forums, deleted my website, and went dark. There wasn’t any one thing that made me flip the switch. Instead, it was the accumulation of lots of experiences and observations that made me prefer to hide. I turned into a digital agoraphobic.
Not that I didn’t have a reason to feel that way. Many people, not just me, found large swaths of the internet to be inhospitable. Also, all the advice about author branding, best practices, pitfalls, and the “right” way to act online paralyzed me. There is such a thing as knowing too much.
I’m now back online with a new name. The new name helps me feel emotionally safe enough to write at all, especially in today’s environment. I hesitate to say I also have a new outlook because I’m still figuring things out. I still second-guess myself, but I don’t want to be invisible anymore. I’ve done that for too long, in too many contexts.
As Sara Bareilles says, it’s time to let the words fall out and be brave.