.journal 2001.04.16
The purpose of this site.

Now listening to: Michael Jones, Michael's Music
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Courtney Love: the Real Story
Now playing: Final Fantasy Anthology (Playstation)

Why do I do this?

I mean, seanshannon.org is coming up on its six-month anniversary here on the 11th of next month, although technically the term "anniversary" can only be applied to the passing of full years, so I suppose the question should be asked: why does seanshannon.org exist? What purpose do I want it to serve?

Well, the genesis of seanshannon.org came from an old personal site I used to keep on the free Website space allotted to me by a former ISP of mine. I'd certainly had enough Webspace of my own with all the projects I was working on, but not really any space that I felt was really mine to do with as I pleased. Even at that, though, I felt some sort of need to adapt to what was "expected" of a personal Website, and so I included sections on the musicians and video games I liked.

When it came time to close that space down, though (because I had changed ISPs), I decided that I really didn't much care for that style, and I wanted a site that was more a pure expression of who I was, of what makes me the person that I am. I had also undergone quite a number of changes in my life at that time (the end of the "situation" I've talked about in the past), and that too contributed to what ultimately became this site.

One of the reasons this site exists is to serve as an online portfolio of my artistic work, my poetry, writing and photography. I don't share all my artistic endeavours on here (certainly my music is something I hold too intimate at this point to publish it online), and perhaps I'm not the world's best wordsmith or photographer or what have you. But that's not the point. The point is that these efforts of mine are something that I'd like to share with all of you, to show you where I'm going and what ideas I have, what I can bring out of myself.

I know I seem to refer to The Artists' Way ad nauseum here, but it has been such a focal point of my recovery that I can't help but keep being drawn back to all the lessons I have learned from it. And one of those lessons, perhaps one of the harder ones for me given my perfectionistic streak, is not to obsess over being the best at everything. Maybe my writing and photography isn't up to a certain standard, but nearly any standard that could be applied to such things would be artificial. What matters is that I am happy with it, and I am happy with all that I have ever put on this site. Perhaps someone out there thinks that X work of mine isn't as good as another piece of work by someone else, or that as a whole my work in a certain field isn't up to Y or Z's work, but that's just their opinion.

And in the past I used to let other people's opinions influence me much more than I should have. I'm only now developing a real sense of self, as in the past I tried to fit into the molds that other people cast me in. In the months and years before my recovery I would ask myself hard questions, but I didn't have the perspective to realize I was asking all the wrong questions. Before that I was in a cocoon-like state, trained to believe that all the bad things that happened to me in my life were things that I deserved because I was fat or talked funny or what have you. I was starting to emerge from my cocoon before the recovery, but I was still without direction -- I was asking myself why I deserved having these bad things happen. Now I'm finally really getting to the root of the problems, by asking myself why I'm in a bad situation, and if I can possibly do something to make the situation better. And if I can't make the situation tolerable, then I simply leave it, because I've finally learned that I don't deserve bad things. I deserve good things, and if I can't get them in my present situation, there's something wrong with the situation, not me, and I need to get out of the situation.

All this talk on my part I suppose comes down to the second, perhaps more important, reason for the existence of this site. This has been a hard journey for me to this point in my life, and while I know I still have a lot of obstacles along the way ahead, it's only now, some twenty-odd years into my life, that I really feel like I'm getting better, that I feel like I am making some progress, that I am figuring out just who I am and what I really want out of life. I used to talk about this journey of mine before I launched this site, in places where perhaps my audience wasn't the most ideal for that kind of talk. But still, I received lots of correspondence from people who were undergoing similar circustances in their life, some who had advanced further in their journey than I had, others who were perhaps behind me and looking for guidance. And that was important to me, because I knew I wasn't alone, I knew there were other people out there who were doing what I was doing. Knowing you're not alone makes a big impact.

And I suppose that's what this journal part of my site has become, when I can avoid droning on and on about what CDs I've bought or what Jeff and I did the last time he was over. This is kind of where I'd like all these people on their various journeys to gather, just so I can share my own experiences so maybe my audience can glean some lessons from them. And for those who may be facing the same kind of dilemmas that plagued me before my recovery, I guess I'm hoping this site provides them with some sort of encouragement that things can get better for them, that they too recover, that they can find out what works for them, get out of the bad situations that are plaguing them and have an enjoyable life. From some of the e-mail I've received since starting the site, I know it's working, and that makes me feel good about what I do here, and it encourages me to give more to those people, and it creates a wonderful cycle through which we all benefit.

My only real desire for the site that I can't satiate is for there to be some sort of interactive component here, some method apart from one-on-one e-mail through which we can all communicate, encouraging and comforting each other whenever we need either of those things. Sadly, though, because of some of the bad elements I knww from my past bad situation are still coming to this site and think it is something to be mocked and derided, I know I could never do something like that because whatever I created would be summarily trashed by these people. I feel like an ex-street gang member who's become reformed and is leading a healthy, productive life, but still can't seem to shake the shadows of former members trying to draw me back into their filthy way of living.

Recently I commented about this on seanshannon.org.blog, and someone who read it obviously took some offense to the observation. I wasn't specifically talking about this person being a bad element, but when you write like I do, things are bound to happen, some things get misinterpreted, some things don't, and in the end I can't help but ruffle some feathers. Sometimes the feathers I ruffle deserved to be ruffled, but sometimes I hurt someone I had no intention of hurting. This time just happened to be one of the latter, and I regret that it happened.

I guess apparently I really hurt this person, though, because he then proceeded to go out in a public forum, and mock the fact that I had just come out in public and talked about my experience as a rape victim. Now, I've kind of not done a good job of avoiding hanging out with the wrong kind of people in the past, but never had I experienced such an abhorrable, despicable act from someone online, and that covers more ground than I'd care to admit. To poke fun of the fact that someone has been raped is just lower than low, and how any conscionable person could associate with someone who would stoop to those depths over what was ultimately a fairly trite observation is just beyond my comprehension.

Sadly, one of the things I've learned all too well from my experiences online is that some people just don't understand this concept of avoiding things you don't like. I personally think Rush Limbaugh is a despicable propaganda machine who has no problem spewing bold-faced lies and imbecilic rhetoric just to try to make a bunch of narrow-minded people who need to wake the hell up and welcome to the 21st century feel good about their outdated, often times immoral, world views. So you know what? I don't listen to Rush. At all. If I'm flipping past CNBC and I see him on with Tim Russert, I don't stay on the channel and wait for him to say something that's going to piss me off, I change the channel and try to find something that I will enjoy watching.

For some people, though, they seem to feed off getting pissed, they just can't help but keep returning to whatever it is that offends them so egregiously, even if it's something as benign as someone's opinions on music or what have you. And then they exacerbate their anger by trying to correspond with the source of their anger, to try to get themselves even more agitated and maybe agitate the source of their anger. From an outsider's perspective this behaviour is clearly problematic and indicative of deep-rooted problems on the part of the person getting so angry in the first place, but when you're experiencing the anger yourself it can be hard to see that.

Ultimately it is these people who have made the Internet messageboard such an abomination. Back when the .com scene was still a goldmine, the people who ran messageboards did a fairly decent job of taming such miscreants. "Oh, this person's giving you a hard time? Well, we'll cancel his account, and if he gives you any more problems let us know and we'll contact his ISP so they can handle him." Nowadays if you're lucky to find a messageboard service that's still running, and assuming the service is still running well enough that they can afford customer support, the support is so overworked that they can't handle all the various tricks and holes the adamant pain-in-the-ass can exploit in the messageboard system to ruin what good can come of it. Especially if you're dealing with a topic that tends to attract the less civil person.

And it is these people who would doom any messageboard I'd try to put together on the spot, because there are enough people out there who hate me for the most petty, trivial reasons that would disrupt the messageboard to a point where nothing good could ever come of it. That sucks, but that's just the way things are and I've come to accept it. So I have to find another way to take this site to the next level.

What really bothers me about these people, though, is that they think they can say whatever they want because of their "freedom of speech." Uh, no, sorry, I'm as strong a First Amendment supporter as you'll find, but the language of the First Amendment is specifically written in the way it is for a purpose. Freedom of speech does not mean I can walk into a newsroom with an angry letter about whatever topic and demand that they publish it; freedom of speech means I can start my own press to get that letter distributed in the manner I desire. Likewise, freedom of speech does not mean you can walk into anyone's messageboard and start causing a fight for whatever reason because the messageboard is provided to you by the moderator; it is not public property. Freedom of speech means you can start your own messageboard and cause all the fights you want, provided the person supplying the messageboard allows such conduct in their terms of use.

Likewise, any messageboard I could start up here would be specifically for the talk of personal and creative recovery. But I know the moment I even tried to launch something like that, right away I'd have tons of people in here mocking, insulting, screaming and just plain disturbing the whole scene. And even though I could try to stop them, in the end I know I just couldn't keep up with all that they would try to do. I don't need that kind of aggravation in my life, so in the end I just have to do what I have to do that nobody uses my own property to abuse me or cause me grief or suffering. And if that means no messageboard or interaction on the site, then so be it.

The only person allowed to say bad things about me on this site is me. And believe me, I know I have problems. As much as I think I "dumb down" this journal in terms of the things I talk about, especially in contrast to my private journal, sometimes I talk about things on here that maybe I shouldn't. I tend to keep things on this site a bit too open, and that causes me some trouble. But I have to do what feels right to me, what I think can do myself, and the people who come to this site seeking help in their recovery, the most good. And if I hurt someone's feelings along the way, I'm sorry. And I can only ask forgiveness for any mistakes I might have made.

And before I say something along those lines here, I think I'm going to turn in. This has been quite a hectic day for me, and unfortunately I think I'm going to be back to you on that sooner than I'd like. But for everyone out there who believes in my message, whose life has been benefitted by coming to this site, I thank you deeply and profoundly, and I hope that together we can all continue to get better. Be well, and I will see you all soon.

- Sean