October 5th, 2013



Loyalty is suck a fickle word.

The word itself isn't fickle but the way people express it, and the reasons they do, are very fickle.

A certain chain of events unfolded this week whose end I could clearly see because I'm afraid I knew the players all too well.

Some would call me a very hard judge, but I ask them to consider this: If someone or a group claims to have a certain set of beliefs, shouldn't you take them at their word, at least till they prove differently? That's the way I look at it, and actions with me always speak louder than words.

I must say the events in my life since roughly June, especially in virtual space, have caused me to make decisions and draw lines that occasionally make other people uncomfortable. Nothing unreasonable, mind you; I am far less likely to let someone transgress a boundary now than I did in the past. Certain parties would say I am less generous but I say I have grown smarter.

You see, generous souls like me can't help but attract those who see a sitting duck and seek to take advantage to their own ends. The smart ones start out by leading you to believe that they are going the same direction you are, so why not combine forces. If they have money, they will invest. They will be the most polite and apparently considerate individual that you've met to date. Your friends and family will also think they are great people, especially if they are aiding shared goals.

Sometimes they are genuine and do want to work with you to reach a goal and only time will tell you if they are. At the same time, it's smart to be cautious, at least till you get to know them and their motivations better.

There are people who go through life basing friendships and alliances solely on what that person or entity can give them, neglecting to remember that such relationships are a two-way street. Such an attitude makes a person a predator, a user, whose sense of entitlement is the central core of their relationships with others. Unfortunately, in this day and age, our very culture has bred way too many people of that stripe. The moment you stop giving that person what they want, they will turn their back on you - without discussion, without any desire to work out the impasse in the relationship. You see them for who they really are, and as much as it hurts, you're better off without them.

Truly healthy friendships and alliances are based not just on what is beneficial to you, but what you can offer to that person or entity. Alliances based on mutual respect and consideration are those that will last - and it takes both parties to show the respect and consideration. Are you seeking a relationship because you truly like and respect the person and what they stand for, or are you looking for people who can fill certain holes in your needs and/or life? Are you even aware of what drives you to seek out certain people?

Yes, usually it's a shared interest that brings people together, and that's especially true if a person is seeking out group membership. The "test of the mettle" comes in when situations arise that require the person to give of themselves and/or demonstrate what they believe loyalty means. If they are the type to say "no one lets me do what I want" then chances are excellent they are seeking to fulfill their own needs only, without being asked to give in a reasonable manner. Such relationships turn toxic in time and the person or people who are being asked to tolerate being abused for self-gain must decide how valuable that relationship really is. No one deserves to be abused, period.

The true test of friendship and loyalty comes in when you can't give anything at all. Does the other person hang around, or go looking for greener pastures? Do they stay and lend a hand till you get on your feet? Do they recognize and accept that everyone goes through scrapes from time to time but it doesnt mean they've ceased being a good friend? Is their loyalty fickle and subject to change should a true predator come along and offer them something which seems too good to be true (and often is)?

Two friends and I recently left a group which proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the concept of "family" changes when there are difficulties to be faced. My first thought is - why accept me as a part of your family if my voice is not heard? Why "play" at acceptance if it's not really there? Why say you respect my feelings and beliefs if your behavior forces me to the fringes?

I guess we were nothing more than "numbers" and when push came to shove and a predator inserted himself into the situation, the predator was given far more kindness and consideration than those who chose to swear their loyalty out of a sense of shared values. It's shared values and mutual consideration that serve as the glue which binds a group together. If the leadership of that group says one thing and truly feels another, that comes to light in a fairly short time. I suspected the discord between words and actual feelings, and yes, time showed that I was right.

All it took was a snake in the grass to separate those who really believe in family from those who just say it because "it's expected" or "it's the nice thing to do."

Digitual Dualism versus What's Really Going On.

There's this concept called "digital dualism" where people somehow think that what they say, do, and experience in a digital fashion is somehow "not real" and "separate" from concrete reality. People who claim belief in this are the ones most likely to behave very badly when allowed to roam the Internet.

The truth of the matter is human beings have been interdimensional creatures from the very beginning. Faith or religion is one dimension where individuals interact, through prayer or other means, with Beings who exist in another dimension of reality. You can't see it, or touch it, but it's no less real to you.

Anytime you share interaction that involves your brain alone, and not your physical body, you are engaging in activities that involve another dimension of reality. It's no less real to you, so why do some draw a separation between digital interactions and concrete reality, or "meatspace" interactions?

You read a story in a book and it allows your imagination to roam, and sometimes it causes you to think about certain things or come away with certain feelings. Is that not real? Do you not feel it?

You read something in the newspaper or a magazine, especially something which elicits an opinion from its readers. Is the opinion you form any less real?

You talk to someone on the telephone who is a state away, or even half a world away. Is that person real? Is your interaction with them any less real than if they were standing right in front of you?

There are many ways that we take our brains where our physical bodies can't go, and the experiences are no less real than if you can reach out and touch them with your fingertips, smell the smells, and see the sights. Those spaces in our lives are just different dimensions of our reality and the reality we share with others.

Just where did people get the cockeyed notion that having an experience in digital reality is "not" real? Isn't the Internet somewhere you take your brain where your physical body cannot go? Do you check your feelings at the door, or do they go with you, and influence you on your "journey"? What about your opinions and beliefs - do you check those at the door or do they go with you?

I maintain that no matter where you go and have experiences - whether it's a place you can actually walk/talk/smell/taste/touch or whether it's another medium - it's a dimension of reality and often a reality that others (in mass quantities) share.

In fact - when the facade of flesh and all we do with it to either communicate or mask who we really are has been stripped - the true person underneath comes to the surface where others can see it. Your true values, how you view others, the basis and motivations of your choices, are there under the glaring microscope with nowhere to hide. People use the various artifices of physical reality to impose layers, like an onion, between themselves and the rest of the world they are in contact with. When you step away from the physical, and enter the digital, those layers are stripped away. You must learn and employ a completely new skillset to express yourself in this space. Even so, it is impossible to completely hide you and your true motivations from others sharing that reality.

I often say that a person's true beliefs and motivations are magnified tenfold in digital space, and I say that because all those layers we use to shield ourselves in meatspace have been stripped away. The playing field is leveled. It doesn't matter how rich, poor, young, old, wise, or uneducated you are - everyone is thrown into this space and their true natures come out.

You are presented with choices that you haven't faced since you were very very young. How will you present yourself? Will you "own" your values and motivations, or try to distance yourself from them? If you try to distance yourself, it becomes glaringly obvious to all of those you interact with, and they see you as dishonest about yourself. Judgment is harsh and swift in digital space and forces you to either own up to what is at your core or be ostracized by those who see you as less than credible. Then again - others who choose to be less than credible may choose to band with you, because that becomes a shared value.

Honor amongst thieves? Hardly. If a person is motivated to take advantage of others for personal gain, they won't stop once they hit digital space. They may learn ways to temporarily obfuscate their true intentions, but in the end, they will be "found out". Because digital space is limitless, they will move on to the next group of unsuspecting people, but their behavior won't change, and they will be condemned to a digital life of nomadism.

Virtual reality is probably the closest thing to meatspace interaction. You can create a 3-dimensional "avatar" and use it to showcase the person you feel that you are. For some, they try to represent their human selves; for others, they see it as a place where they can open up and express parts of themselves that they can't fully express in a physical environment. You will find all sorts of "personalities" there - from plain human beings, all the way up to abstract expression, and everywhere inbetween.

None of it is any less real than the desk you're resting your wrists on as you type. If you insist that it's somehow NOT real then ask yourself if the events that occur in your mind on a daily basis are real, because they can't be touched/smelled/tasted/heard any more than interaction in virtual space.

You are who you are, no matter where your mind wanders. Don't make the mistake of classifying virtual/digital space is "unreal" in an excuse to treat other human beings with anything less than common consideration. That's a faulty viewpoint and one which cannot be used to justify the abuse of others.