It’s time I told you—friends, watchers, Deviants across the world—a dark secret I think I need to get off my chest.
The truth is: my parents and brother, with whom I still live because I can’t afford anything in the San Francisco Bay Area given my current income, disapprove of my activity online as Colonel Knight Rider but have done nothing to deactivate my activity.
Since the dawn of the Internet, they have held the belief that a person does not need a Web presence to be successful in life (my father, being slightly more enlightened than my mother, has a LinkedIn, but that’s it). They also live in great fear of social media because of the problems related to it that keep popping up on news networks everywhere. Being protective sorts, my parents have done everything they can to keep me out of harm’s way, warning me of the risks associated with revealing personal information online, including birth dates and contact info.
You all know my story as to how I was stalked, harassed, insulted, heartbroken, deceived, and betrayed by a number of people before arriving at DeviantArt, but experience has taught me that’s no reason to give up on finding the good people in the world who use social media. The Wright Brothers built Lord knows how many test airplanes before building one that could fly, and I went through a couple of domineering forums before falling in love with DA and its infinitely more understanding inhabitants. History repeats itself.
Even in this particularly dark time for the human race, only I have the courage to defy my family’s orders to not have the Web presence that I have. Every day I get on social media, I look over my shoulders to make sure my parents and brother don’t see me. Sometimes, I stay up past my usual bedtime, violating my own self-scheduling, when everyone else is asleep so I can log into my accounts without fear of being eyed by my overprotective parents. They’ve often said they’re not paranoid, but is it possible for a person to be paranoid without knowing it? And, if not paranoia, then what is it? Is it really nothing more than their desire to keep me safe?
I know that my parents want me to stay off the Internet because they love me and want me to be safe and not embarrass myself by making social blunders on social media. However, if I don’t practice, how else will I learn?
Furthermore, I should note that I have made conscious efforts to make friends or otherwise engage people in conversation that doesn’t involve social media. At the same time, since the developed world seems to be more drawn to binary communication than it’s ever been, it leaves me with little other choice than to try the Web. The world’s gone digital, but I’m the only one in my house willing to, for lack of a better word, adapt.
I admit to making mistakes in cyberspace in the past by misunderstanding social cues from others, but I cannot stress enough that my #1 reason for joining DeviantArt was to redeem and reinvent myself in spite of them. Nevertheless, I know that, if I said this to my parents, they would still hold firmly to their traditional, if not uninformed and biased, views of things, believing me to be unwilling to change myself for the better despite two Deviations I wrote to the contrary.
And, of course, both my parents and my brother share the common belief that people only use social media to promote selfish interests and narcissism. They call it a breeding ground for hatred, racism, sexism, and more, yet they don’t quite realize that so many posts, memes, Tweets, etc. are engineered to be…well, relatable (Why else do you think so many of them start with, “When?”)! Most of them exist to evoke feelings of relatability, which I believe is selfless, but the small percentage of truly selfish or narcissistic posts—whether a flashy celebrity photo (with or without clothing!), a flame war started by a troll who tried to not get directly involved, or one presidential candidate’s latest attack on the other—gets all the attention from the news!
It doesn’t matter how I use social media. My parents just prefer I not use it. Though they’ve never said it aloud, they clearly believe that they are “above” social media and therefore “above” people who use it. Consequently, they sometimes threaten to institutionalize me if they see me using social media when they mention it, if they see me doing something millions and millions of normal people who aren’t at all crazy do every day!
But let me ask you all this:
Does a person who uses social media not have eyes?
Does a social media user not have hands?
Are we not fed with the same food?
Hurt with the same weapons?
Subject to the same diseases?
Healed by the same means?
Warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter, respectively, as a non-social media user is?
I speak for each and every one of us, my friends and fellow Deviants, when I say to my parents: if you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
And, if you wrong us, will we not seek revenge?
That’s why I’ve chosen you, my fellow Deviants, to stand behind me in case anything goes awry. If you see any of my social media accounts disappear, it means my parents have forcibly taken over, and I need your help.
So, the ultimate point of my writing this letter to you is: If I were to lose everything I’ve created on DeviantArt and elsewhere at the hands of my parents, what would you say in my defense and in the defense of social media users in general to help me protect my social media empire?
Please write your defense arguments in the comments below. Thank you, and best of luck!
~Colonel Knight Rider
P.S., Expect a music parody relevant to my plight—my REAL Knightmare—to follow in my next Deviation.