I have a confession to make. My last post about feeling like maybe blogging isn’t the best way to use my time – it wasn’t the 100% whole story. Since I’ve always been pretty darned truthful with you, I thought I should fill in the rest of the story.

See, something really been bothering me for the last month and a half. And I would like to talk to you about it.

Right around Labor Day, a very well-respected man named Trey Pennington took his own life. Friends of his had been seeing all of the signs that Trey was in danger, but he seemed to be getting better. Those of us who did not know him well found out that he had tried to take his life once before, earlier in the summer. These were shocking revelations, because from my point of view, all I knew of Trey was that he was well-respected, well-liked, and well-admired.

Even though I did not know Trey well, I was quite taken aback by his passing. He was one of those people I had always wanted to get to know better, and I figured, as we so often do, that I’d have that chance. However, since I had only exchanged one very brief set of ideas with Trey over my year in the online world, I didn’t figure that any outpouring of grief on my own behalf would really make sense. I reached out to those who had been true friends of Trey’s and offered my support to them.

Then, two things I had thought were unthinkable happened. First, people started trying to ride Trey’s death as a way to get more traffic to their blogs. And second, people showed, in some situations, such a shocking lack of care for the people around them that I considered leaving the online world – it had become a dirty and marred place for me. It felt like I was sitting in a really muddy reservoir.

The very worst thing I witnessed during the week or 2 that followed was an exchange on a blog post where Trey’s brother was actually popping in from time to time. He was preparing the funeral arrangements for his brother, and what met him was a person who was hurling accusations at Trey and at his friends. Essentially, the person was saying that Trey got what he deserved. An ugly, divisive exchange of words followed in the comment section, all of which Trey’s brother was witness to. All while he was preparing to bury his brother.

Have you ever been out in a restaurant or just walking around town and the person you’re with is acting like a complete idiot? You kind of want to pretend you don’t know them, right?

That’s the way I felt about witnessing all of that ugliness. I still would have been upset about it, regardless, because it was gratuitously unnecessary, but the fact that Trey’s brother had to see all of that, it just made me feel ashamed on behalf of the online world that I am involved in.

To be 100% honest, I still have not really gotten back to the love of the online world that I had before that moment. Every ugly spat I see just adds to that one big mess. And it makes me feel ashamed.

What can we do to get that loving feeling back?

Of course, there is a lot about the online world that I love. The percentage of stuff I enjoy outweighs, by a long shot, the stuff that gets me down.

So when you are feeling kind of burnt out on this here world, how can you get that love for online communication back? The easiest answer is to concentrate on the people, at least for me. How could I dislike something or be ashamed of something that ended up in me meeting people like Sherree Worrell, my 12 most friends, powerful women like Carol Roth, or super duper spitfires like Lisa Barone and Gini Dietrich? How can I hate something that allows me to talk to people from the Philippines (hi Danny), Malaysia (hi Jan), Australia (Hi Sandra), and Canada (hi everyone else!)?

Beyond that though, you can confront whatever is getting you down. In this case, it was utter thoughtlessness, rudeness, incivility, and crudeness that made me feel yucky about the online world. So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to work hard to try to show people that social media can be used for a lot of neat things, none of which revolve around making other people feel poopy. There’s a whole brave new world out there of ways we can use this technology to make the world a better place, and that excitement…that thought…that is what makes me proud to be a part of this world.

What do you think? Can we wipe those shadows and cobwebs away and make the online world shine?

Image by Shannon Pifko. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/SEPpic