Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

2D or Not 2D: Transcending Barriers In Virtual Reality


I received a notification from WordPress wishing me a Happy 5th Anniversary. I thought this would be a good time to end my blogging hiatus.

By and large, you can learn a lot about people from blog posts and in the comment section. IMO, the best part about the blogosphere is the comment section. I have invested hundreds of hours reading thousands of comments over the years, and I’ve been fortunate to meet people who are refreshingly real. In a 3D world (and depending on the culture) people tend to be more inhibited in social settings, and it might take months and even years to get to know people, intimately; what they think and feel in an innermost way.

Chameleons changing colors
While a crocodile cries
People rubbing elbows
But never touching eyes
Taking of their masks
Still another guise
Imitation life

People buying happiness
And manufactured fun
Everybody doing
What everybody’s done
People count on people
Who can only count to one
Imitation life

All the pretty clouds
Are a lovely shade of black
You find the right direction
Someone tears up all the track
People worship crosses
Fingers crossed behind their back
Imitation life

Old friends get together
But it’s solitaire they play
Everybody’s rainbows
Done in different shades of gray
Its a lovely place to visit
But I wouldn’t want to stay
In a genuine
Imitation life

By Jake Holmes –  Genuine Imitation Life (1967)


In psychology, this ability to be more authentic, online, is known as the Disinhibition Effect, which is defined as a reduction or abandonment of social restrictions and inhibitions found in normal face-to-face communication.

A couple of days ago, my blogging buddy and friend, Esme, published a post “Poetry In Motion.” To my great pleasure, the comment section evolved to mirror my own sentiments, observations and experiences in this online community.


Here are excerpts from an exchanged between Esme and Swarn:

Swarn:  I agree with you that there is much that the virtual world can bring out in us that might take time in person. I wonder why that is? Perhaps we are all too preoccupied with sex. lol But it’s nice to have an environment with less fear of expression.

Esme:  “I wonder why that is?” – It’s because we aren’t distracted and dictated by the social conventions and restrictions we have been raised to almost rigidly stick to outside of this box – raps the computer – – therefore initial physical attraction is limited to a small avatar of face, (if there is one, and not picture of a cat eating spaghetti in a tutu, and sometimes that might actually help –  falls about), in any early stage of a friendship/relationship online. Tis the cerebral that is at the fore. Later perhaps people send more extensive photographs, videos or ‘face jibber’ at one another, but getting to know people initially usually involves rather more insight into the one organ that normally doesn’t get all that much exposure straight off — the brain. (throws two people out for sniggering at ‘organ) People fall in love with the mind before the body online — we may see a couple of photographs but 2D has none of the quirks/tics/body language that would normally give us our positive or negative cues.

So, one falls in love/becomes terribly fond of a mind, predominantly, nay exclusively. How someone ticks. For all of society’s emphasis on appearance, there is no greater compliment than to know you are admired, loved, or fancied to a point of utter distraction purely because of that which you harbour in your head. It’s cutting to the chase basically. It’s who you are at the core (blimey). In real life, if you get together with someone, you may never gain access to that which they show of themselves happily online, though some will filter through of course, (this tends to get rarer as time ticks on and the bath needs cleaning, and the kids need picking up from the ‘Toddler Zumba’ club) because they can’t say it all. They can write it. And of course some people would be unrecognisable offline should you bump into them unwittingly in a pub say, and I don’t mean physically (though yes, I’m sure that does happen quite frequently, especially bearing in mind how many people use flattering photographs which are about ten to fifteen years old) being incredibly shy, or a thousand other hidden attributes that bear no relation to their online persona in 3D. Others will be as near as dammit the same. If you have fallen for their mind first however, you know the heights of wonder they are capable of. You can find out all the faults later on hahahahaha. This all rings the same bell with friendships of course, though the path leans more towards just pure enjoyment/adoration/the gleaning of joy of their being. Their existence. And distance is no barrier. It’s a very different way to access love.

Then there’s age! One of my favourite aspects. I have several older friends, both male and female, and one of them , now in his eighties, is a shameless flirt of the highest degree. He makes Professor Taboo look like a virgin who has just taken her vows. If you didn’t know his age, you’d never know it was above thirty five. And that’s just as it should be! Our bodies age, get wrinkly and saggy eventually, but our minds still have the fire they had within when forty years younger. The web enables one to skate over age without even seeing it. Also, if you have an avatar that isn’t of yourself, people will end up subconsciously creating an image of you anyway in their brains — one that they think fits, and I think that’s quite interesting. Had I met my friends who are in their seventies/eighties in 3D, the conversations would never have turned to some of the rum topics that have been exchanged online. The freedom it affords is quite something, and leads to forging relationships (irrelevant of age or physical appearance) of all kinds that are likely to be far more well matched.

Swarn:  Great response. I agree with your answer wholeheartedly, but I guess when I asked why I also meant it in the sort of broader sense of why can’t we become more like we are on the internet? Personally I’ve been using it for practice. lol If I like my virtual world persona better, than I figure this is how I should try to be more in the real world. It’s a work in progress. 🙂 It has been my experience, in the words of Robert Frobisher, “All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended”, and that when we do transcend then people mind less than you think they will. In fact I’ve found that most people are happier being free to be themselves than to constantly feel like they have to tuck something away. I am a very open person, and I’ve found that by adopting that attitude people are more at ease around me than they might be with somebody else, because I think we can always tell, when in person somebody is tucking a part of themselves away. We are all waiting for the other person to lay their cards on the table first. I refuse to wait for others, mostly because it just seems like a waste of time, when you can get down to the heart of the matter more quickly.”

Just curious:

1)  Have you found it easier to be your most authentic self in a 2D world vs your 3D world?
2)  Has the virtual world played a role in helping you become more open and outspoken in your offline life?
3)  Would it be less likely you would engage in the same conversations or subject matters, and/or become friends with people who are several years, even decades older or younger than you, had you met them offline?
4)  What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been involved in the blogosphere?
 As an aside, my blogging buddy and friend, John Zande, just published his second book, available on

Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, the psychological techniques used to indoctrinate, and the brain's role in religious-type experiences and attachment.

189 thoughts on “2D or Not 2D: Transcending Barriers In Virtual Reality

  1. Am I the crocodile? I want to be the crocodile.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aloha, Victoria – how wonderful to read your own offering!

    In answer to your question, I am what I am. Here or elsewhere. Anyone who knows me would tell you this. I delight in diversity and can see far deeper than skin. I don’t harbor prejudices as such, only must admit to disdain for the idiotic. I don’t find myself lusting over avatars, either; I have seen far too much of humanity’s dark side to fantasize that what’s on the surface is The Person. Age does confer a sort of transparency that way, however – what we have lived is easier to read on an elder face. In the end, I’m a wordsmith, in love with ideas, concepts and words, themselves when used cleverly. Yet being an amateur photographer as well, I take joy in capturing the essence of a person in an image, especially if that person finds it a pleasing reflection.

    What I absolutely love about this WP community (for Facebook is for the uber-trivial and self promoting and I refuse to participate in anything called Twitter) is the gift of having minds to pick and ponder that, at least in my opinion, have something of value to say. I love that this community is global in nature. That I’m able to ‘dialogue’ with folks from different corners of the planet. I have traveled all my life as well, so it’s not just a virtual perspective I’m looking for.

    As for what I’ve learned about myself, it’s that people whose thoughts I admire likewise seem to value my own wordplay, and it is for these people, no matter how few or many, that I show up every week.

    Thanks for asking, Victoria. I look forward to reading more of your own posts! Aloha.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Bela, as I wrote this post, I realize that I might have come across as a bit naive, as I’m aware of the darker side of 2D. It took me some years to trust people again, online, but once I put myself out there again. (although I still practice caution), I discovered a genuine depth, an openness and connection that was not as easy to find in my offline world. I think much of it has to do with the culture I live in, where people tend to be skittish about diversity and those who hold different values.

      I, too, love that this community is global in nature. While we interact in 2D, we are connecting with 3D people who have 3D lives, so I agree that it’s not just a virtual perspective I’m looking for. I have found value on FB, as it has helped me connect with local people (especially since the election) who are not shallow and self-promoting,. We have similar progressive and humanistic goals, and it is likely that I would have never met them had it not been for FB.

      You wrote: “As for what I’ve learned about myself, it’s that people whose thoughts I admire likewise seem to value my own wordplay, and it is for these people, no matter how few or many, that I show up every week.”


      Also, I haven’t known you long, but I could tell by your interactions with other bloggers and commenters, that you delight in diversity and resonate with other gifted wordsmiths. Reading the exchanges is, indeed, poetry in motion. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Bella, and for your kind words.

      Liked by 3 people

        • And meant to say very cool that you have an interactive FB community. I use it mostly to post ideas and photos for folks I’ve known all my life (conservative Repubs, save two), family (all Mormon/Repubs), people in our local community and friends but not close ones. I know a lot of artists and performers who mostly use it for self promotion or ranting about the current political debacle while not doing anything about it. Wish I could say it (FB) was mutually satisfying, but I’d be lying. Just my experience. Aloha 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • Bela, thanks for that clarification about “self promotion.” I wasn’t quite sure what you meant by that. I think most of us, who write online, self promote in one media form or another. I’m rather selective with who gets to view and participate on my FB page, family included, and my profile is not public. It took me a while to like FB, but it’s been a rewarding experience for the most part. It can be draining at times, because there is so much going on in the U.S., so I do have to unplug from time to time, but I value the opinions of those who are genuinely concerned about the state of our country, who stay abreast of the news, share it, and are proactive. Also, many of the people on FB are bloggers, which I am rather fond of. 😀

            Liked by 4 people

  3. Does anyone know what their authentic self is, I wonder? I think the closest we get to it is recognising that our social interactions, be they online or offline, are to some extent dramaturgical performances. That’s self-awareness, so actually, being authentic — in the sense of being uncontrived — is just this awareness that our social interactions are an accommodation, a performance of sorts, a meeting of the other on some intuited middle ground. Yet carrying that off naturalistically, without it being stilted and contrived in a premeditated manner, is your authentic social self in communication. Behind that self as a social construct, there simply is no enduring, changeless self-entity that can seen as authentic or otherwise. Esme is Queen of the Blogosphere.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Who am I to suggest that you don’t know who your authentic self is (genuine and real). It’s a good question, though, and one I think is personal. I like what you said about interacting with others carrying that off naturalistically, without it being stilted and contrived in a premeditated manner. Your comment reminded me of a study I read from Cambridge not long about about swearing. It was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

      “Temperate language has traditionally been considered a social virtue, but new research suggests that people who refrain from swearing are often the most devious and dishonest.

      Dr David Stillwell, one of the study’s authors, said the correlation may stem from the constraints imposed by social convention.

      “If you’re trying to follow the social norms rather than saying what you think, you are saying what people want to hear,” he said.

      “In that respect you are not being very honest.”

      That’s not to suggest that people who don’t normally swear in private, are more dishonest if they don’t swear in public. Just that those who normally would do it in private but not in public are “tucking parts of themselves away, as Swarn puts is.

      I was just curious if you and others found it easier to be more transparent and open online more so than face-to-face.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Well Victoria, if anyone can identify what their ‘authentic self’ is — as a changeless and enduring entity — I’d be fascinated to know. We all assume we constitute, or are in possession of, a self, or soul-self, or somesuch, but none of us can quite pin it down. And that’s because it isn’t there; all there is, is a mentative stream, or Hume’s ‘bundle of perceptions’, none of which can rightly be deemed a self-like entity, and neither rightly so as a collective. As I suggested, one can be authentic in social interaction and displays, and our interior monologue is in a sense always authentic (even if delusional), but to reify these phenomena to an enduring self or soul is simply an error. The self is a common sense intuition, a persistent evolutionary artefact, but isn’t an ontological (objectively existent) phenomenon.

        I’ve seen those studies about swearing, and Esme will tell you that I’m a proper foul-mouthed fucker.

        As to your final question, then I can’t say I do ‘find it easier’ to communicate online. I’m conscious that all my interactions are some sort of display (that sounds awful!), some sort of otherness being inhabited, but then I think communication necessarily is so — there’s nothing wrong or deceitful in that; in fact it’s an act of generosity, it seems to me. Communication is about leaving one’s own terrain (the morass of nonsense that floats around in all our heads), and standing on some intuited common ground which is neither my private world, nor the others. It’s giving up the security and freedom of one’s private world, one’s vast array of private options, and standing in a newly-created quasi-virtual space, and within which one has to allocate (give) some of one’s private mental space over to the other, and right there and overtly in that relational space.

        Liked by 3 people

    • “Esme is Queen of the Blogosphere.”

      Esme is one of the top most talented people, online. I hope her book is a smashing success when it’s published.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Hariod. Empress of the Clouds too.

      – esme enjoying all H’s words in the comment upon the Cloud

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I can only speak for myself here, but in the blogosphere I don’t need to be so much aware of the non-verbal forms of communication that most people use in the physical world. I still have problems “reading between the lines”, but I notice other people face this problem to some degree when online too.

    I think our culture has yet to evolve a comprehensive and universally accepted set of social rules and taboos. Perhaps in another generation or two, social etiquette online will become just as complex as it is in face to face situations today, although body language and voice tone etc will need to be replaced with something else. I guess it depends whether the written word remains the major means of communication online, or whether it’s replaced with something else (some form of virtual reality?). In the meantime, the socially awkward such as myself and many others on the autism spectrum, can participate in the virtual world on an almost equal footing with everyone else.

    As an aside, way, way back in the late 1960s, I started a relationship with a young woman by means of “snail mail”. Although it was very slow paced – a reply took weeks or months between NZ and Japan – we both found the same freedom to be more open than we would have been otherwise. It clearly worked as we have now been married for more than 45 years.

    I think that one of the reasons it worked, was that we both realised that neither of us really understood the social conventions of the other’s culture, so we set about creating our own set of conventions. It still need “tweaking” from time to time, but that’s half the fun.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Barry, that is a lovely story about you and your partner and I like what you said about you two creating your own set of conventions. I was curious, though. After you got together, did you continue to find the same freedom to be more open, face-to-face?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Face to face we did, and to some extent still do face some difficulties due to our neuro diversities. However, early on we evolved something akin to letter writing by positioning ourselves back to back and requiring a short period of silence between each turn of speaking. We often passed notes between us when intodicing a difficult topic. We no longer practice this, although at times I wish we still did.

        Liked by 4 people

        • That is interesting. I have often thought that if I should meet a potential partner online, and we decide to make a life together, that I would want to continue to keep our online relationship going. It’s a part of who we are, not just as a couple but as individuals.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Yes indeed, I too think I’d insist on some online time and send them into a different room so we could write to each other hahahaha. But it really is something I think I’d miss. Perhaps letters would be nice too, like Barry says with the notes. (Great story about how he met his partner – how lovely! *waves at Barry*)

            – esme working her way down the comment post and hugging Victoria along the way upon the Cloud

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Victoria! I am so glad you published this post! Well, I’m always glad when you publish but I have to confess that I – for whatever reason! – missed this exchange between Esme and Swarn, and I’m subscribed to that thread! I’m a notorious skimmer and look what I misssed – excellent, in-depth commentary which is so true. As usual, someone else was able to ‘voice’ exactly what I’ve thought (and wondered about) so often — it’s so effortless to ‘make friends’ online compared to ‘in the flesh’ for all the reasons articulated in their conversation . . . I agree 100% . . . !!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hey Carmen, I’m glad you got the opportunity to to read this exchange. I found it exhilarating, as though two people had jumped into my head and were writing out my own thoughts. Lol Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who’s had similar musings. There was a feeling of connectedness. I have a fairly outgoing personality in my offline life — more so than online, but I find that there are more barriers when it comes to making a genuine connection, offline. People around here are always asking you what church you go to. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Carmen I know what you mean about skimming, a tendency of mine also. It requires real effort for me to discipline myself and read through a whole comment thread, especially when longer comments are involved. The tragedy is that some of the long comments are very inciteful, but psychologically they require a lot more effort to read.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Hello Victoria. I find I can be more open and engaging in an online discussion because I don’t feel as vulnerable as I do in person. I really enjoy a good conversation between a group of people online. Hugs

    Liked by 6 people

    • Scottie, that’s a good point about feeling vulnerable. I also find the conversation, online, more intellectual and often mingled with personal experiences which makes for great conversation IMO. It’s like attending a smallish dinner party, and everyone has a bit of a buzz from the wine; their inhibitions are lowered, they are relaxed, and the conversation just flows. 😀

      Liked by 4 people

      • Victoria, I know what you mean about the dinner party, but there is a tipping point as when they have had a bit more wine, the comments get louder and people start interrupting. (though perhaps that is in Australia).

        I don’t drink alcohol anymore and noticed distinct changes in people’s demeanor over the evening, You certainly learn more as inhibitions are diminished, though at times what you learn are feelings the person would rather that others did not know.

        Liked by 3 people

        • “Victoria, I know what you mean about the dinner party, but there is a tipping point as when they have had a bit more wine, the comments get louder and people start interrupting. (though perhaps that is in Australia).”

          I think it’s universal, Peter. I wouldn’t attend a dinner party, or invite a guest(s) to a dinner party who couldn’t or wouldn’t control their alcohol intake, which would generally lead to behavior that is disruptive. I don’t like being around people who are drunk, and will avoid social situations that encourage drunkenness.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I should clarify that the dinners I attend would seem to most to be very sedate affairs. But as a non drinker the subtle changes in others over the evening are more obvious to me, as another bottle of red wine opened.

            Liked by 2 people

            • So, a little more sedate than those folk who get “drunk in the holy ghost”?


              • A Pentecostal once complained to me about members of his congregation who would interrupt his service by speaking loudly in tongues. Although this pastor was ‘pro tongues’ he felt it should be done decently and in order and found that these outbursts were disconcerting for some newcomers.

                The pastor said that one ‘culprit’ was a very emotional person. This made me ponder (when I was still a person of faith) whether it was really divine as this behaviour had all the hallmarks of human emotion rather than being divine.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Victoria, exactly. I find I can have conversations online that no one wants to have in person. It is grand to be able to stretch myself to learn, reason, and understand. Be well. Hugs

        Liked by 4 people

        • “I find I can have conversations online that no one wants to have in person.”

          Same, here, Scottie. There have been a few times that I’ve experienced it in person, and it was special because it is rare. I’m not talking about an echo chamber. I talking about being able to be completely yourself, about being in the company of people who are OK with differences of opinion, and who are actually listening. People like that are rare gems.

          *hugs back*

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scottie discussions in person are very much time bound and move on beyond points we might have wanted to consider further. But on-line it is easier to come back to such points and dwell on them in more depth.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Hello Peter, very true. I am also in a situation like Victoria mentioned, no one around me wants to have a conversation on anything but the trivial things of the day. Ron will let me ramble on and even talk a little on politics or such, but he works 12 hour shifts plus does all the housework and stuff, so he is tired and just wants to relax when he has down time. So the only chance I have to stretch my self, learn new things, reason with others is online with the great groups I found with you guys. I do not get angry or upset, even with theist except when they deny reality. But I really love the conversations and I am so happy to be an accept part of them. Be well. Hugs

            Liked by 1 person

            • Good point you raise Scottie about sometimes the folk in our immediate vicinity are not seeking the same conversation.

              The internet really has changed the world for good and ill (I mention ill because as I wrote it I thought about how ISIS seems a phenonem of the internet age – at least their recruitment strategies).

              Liked by 2 people

              • Yes you are correct Peter. However the internet and computers have been a lifesaver for some. Let me explain. When I was first put in a wheelchair in 1996 ( I was in the chair for 2 1/2 years that time ) I couldn’t go in or out of the house without Ron’s help. Yes I was stuck inside all day every day he was at work. We had no TV or cable. I had nothing but radio to entertain myself. My sudden illness had taken a lot of our money but Ron got me a computer, a device I had not seen before. I loved it. We had AOL way back then, and it was dial up. But it was a way for me to leave the house. I spend all day on that old thing. It was used so it was always having troubles. I learned about computers trying to keep that thing running. That was when we found out I had a gift for them. But the point is the old computer way back then already was a way for me to join the world way back then. Now that I am again disabled, not able to go out really, not able to be part of the world that is not inside my home, the computer is again my gateway, my door way to people. It opens the doors to them, lets me talk to them, share ideas, do normal people stuff. So yes there is bad, people who steal and hurt others, people who go after children, hate groups and all sorts of other bad things on here as well, there is great good. It is like real life I guess. There are good people and bad people in life, there is good places and bad places in life. I am lucky, really fortunate that I found the best people and the most grand places. Hugs

                Liked by 1 person

        • I consider the comments section on most blogs to be group therapy for me.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I know what you mean Charity.

            Some Christians find it bizarre that us deconverts comment so often on Christian topics. For example Neil Carter’s recent post on Hell, where I noticed you made some very inciteful comments. These Christians conclude that either we are still drawn to the faith or that we are being malicious. What they fail to understand is that this practice of commenting is largely a psychological exercise to help us work through the issues still affecting us from our religious indoctrination.

            When something had been the core part of one’s life for decades and is found to be a sham then this is bound to be have a deleterious effect on our mental well being.

            Liked by 2 people

            • “insightful” comments … 🙂


              • Thanks Nan, or should I call you a ‘grammar Nazi’?

                Once a few years back I was presenting an important paper to the Board of the Company where I worked. Half way through the presentation, the Chairman interrupted me, and peered over his glasses and said, ‘Peter one word of advice on your papers, if in doubt lose the comma’.


                • The only reason I pointed it out is the meaning of “incite” is to provoke or stir up … and I don’t think that’s what either you or Victoria meant.

                  If I were truly a “‘grammar Nazi,” I would be too busy to write any blog postings. 😀


                • One of our daughters (who studied linguistics in Uni) would ask, “Can you understand what he meant?” If the answer was “Yes”, she’d say, “Well, it’s linguistically correct then!” 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

            • Agreed, Peter. I couldn’t even find a secular therapist until four years after deconverting. I don’t even want to imagine how much more difficult RTS would have been for me if not for our version of “group therapy”. It’s hard for a lifelong secularist to relate because they’ve never been apart of the planet religion. Those who are still religious, particularly Christian, rarely are open to honest dialogue. Deconvert blogs have been my relief from the Jesus soaked society where I live.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. I find it easier to be open about myself in virtual discussions. I have concluded that primarily reflects my naturally introverted personality.

    What I have learnt about myself is that I am shallower and less robust than i would hope, by that I mean that I find myself getting disappointed if I comment on a post and everyone ignores my comment. Psychologically it is very reinforcing to make a comment that generates a lot of response, especially if that response is positive.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Peter, I think it’s perfectly natural for feel disappointed, and I don’t see that a shallow. Your comment reminded me of something that John Adams once said:

      “A desire to be observed, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as one of the keenest dispositions of man.”

      On my other blog, I posted information from a study out of Wake Forest University and elsewhere. “We are acknowledgment machines. Living cells are as well. The only thing is, cells do non-stop and ‘seek’ feedback from their environment through their lipid bi-layer membrane. Even the molecules that form those cells, too, are feedback machines.

      Only by getting feedback from markers in an environment does an atomic structure “know” or sense that a change has taken place. Not surprisingly, even our future will be dictated by this principle of recognition: Norbert Weiner, the founder of cybernetics, stated that artificial intelligence is based on feedback. So whether it concerns real or fake intelligence, feedback/acknowledgment is the key to understanding it.”

      If you think about it, we have “like” buttons for that same reason. I really appreciate your feedback.

      Liked by 3 people

      • One thing where I do admonish myself is that I have never got around to setting up a wordpress account, this means I am unable to use the ‘like’ on their blogs. It is not that I am being hard to please.

        Thanks as always for your inciteful comments. When I passed from youth into adulthood, I learnt something of the when people were teasing me If I ignored them they got bored and stopped, they thrived on the feedback of me expressing frustration/annoyance.

        As an aside I do feel in esteemed company with the quality of commentators you attract to your site. The discussion are thoughtful indeed and there is so much information provided. This is such a relief when I compare it to the comment sections in some parts of the internet. One of the truest and funniest things I have ever seen is part of the following video, around the 1:23 mark, when it say that the little girl is left with loses some emotions, ‘she is left with only your average Youtube comments section to guide here, rage, fear and disgust’ :

        Liked by 5 people

        • Peter, that video cracked me up. 😂😂

          “When I passed from youth into adulthood, I learnt something of the when people were teasing me If I ignored them they got bored and stopped, they thrived on the feedback of me expressing frustration/annoyance. “

          There’s a lot of truth to that statement, and online, it tends to be disadvantageous to feed the trolls. I find great enjoyment in robbing them of their dopamine fixes. *grins*

          I am happy to read your thoughts that you feel in esteemed company with the quality of commentators on this blog. I have learned so much from them, and many who post here, I consider dear friends — you included.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Quite true, Peter and VN, and so the issue I have with banning and censoring for such ‘bullying’ I think is better achieved by simply letting the offending comment stand unanswered. Even a series of them. But of interest to me is just how often some people feel they must respond after being poked this way – over and over if the commentator really is a troll seeking attention and not expressing and/or exploring an honestly held contrary opinion. It is the responder who actually has a problem here, which is not corrected or fixed by banning or censoring.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I should add I am glad that you are able to interpret what I mean rather than what I sometimes write with my dyslexic typing skills.

            The number of times I read back a comment of mine after posting and find a wrong word seems to have slipped in..grrr. But thankfully mostly folk can discern what I meant to say.

            Liked by 3 people

          • ‘it tends to be disadvantageous to feed the trolls. I find great enjoyment in robbing them of their dopamine fixes. *grins*’

            I assume that is why you barred ColorStorm form your site.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well, Peter, I was being a bit facetious when I wrote that I find great enjoyment, but yes, CS is not welcomed here. Many people, who read my blog, have experienced some form of RTS, and he will not get his jollies at the expense of my readers. I’ve only barred 4, maybe 5 people (trolls) in the five years I’ve been blogging, and I make no apologies.

              Liked by 1 person

    • I have worried you’d think I was stalking you Peter, as is would be rare for me to see a comment of yours and not *like* it. ‘Why is Zoe always liking my comments? No one else seems too but there’s Zoe around every corner.’ 😉

      I find what you contribute Peter to be very valuable. Remember there are always lurkers who never comment but do read. You’d be surprised just how many people relate to what you share as well as are helped by what you share.

      I do understand the need/want/desire to know that someone did read and *like* what you contribute. At Ark’s blog I chimed in very late into the comment section about PTSD. I know Ark saw my two comments as he did *like* them but by then the conversation was over and I received zero feedback. Sometimes it takes time for me to chime in so I miss any back and forth afforded if I had jumped in sooner. One never knows though. Maybe something we say does make a difference. We just may never know it. 🙂

      I hope you see this as a “positive” response. 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

      • Zoe, I take note of your ‘likes’ and very much appreciate them. Thanks.

        I have noticed that contributing late to a discussion often results in no ‘likes’ or responses. This tends not to be related to the quality of the comment, but rather people have moved on. There are some exceptions where comments linger, I recall one on Nate’s blog where the active comments went on for a month or so, but that was because there was an energetic debate between Christians and atheists. If most people are of the same general view comments tend to fall off after two or three days in most cases.

        Also some folk who are very active in comments, (Ark as an example) seem to be far more energised when they come accross a comment they disagree with than a comment they agree with. This is where I tend to differ from Ark as I prefer to exchange views with people I broadly agree with, I suspect is personality based in my case.

        What i do miss is the mischievous humour of our sadly departed friend Arch.

        Liked by 5 people

        • Don’t we all, Peter? *she raises her coffee cup*

          Liked by 5 people

        • Yes, most of my comments I realize I’m preaching to the choir. I often hope though that the intended audience sees what I say and considers somewhere down the road that idea that Zoe mentioned. I do know from life experiences that things I have said in the offline world resonate with people but I don’t hear about it at the time.

          I sure miss Arch too Peter. ❤

          Liked by 4 people

        • “What i do miss is the mischievous humour of our sadly departed friend Arch.”

          I’ve been thinking about Arch the last couple of days. He loved getting under my skin, sometimes, so I gave it right back. I didn’t take shit from him, haha. Ironically, he said he loved that about me. I do miss him.

          Liked by 5 people

        • Been thinking a lot about Arch. I never really stopped thinking about him, he’s just on my mind more lately. When I first found out about his death I couldn’t stop crying. I sobbed in my car, at home and in my therapist’s office. Never met the guy. However, he was great towards me. WordPress doesn’t feel the same without him. There’s no way it can be the same again because there will never be another Arch. I miss him so much.

          Liked by 4 people

          • Charity, your comment is a rollicking endorsement of Victoria’s post — the fact that such close relationships can be formed online. I mean, who DIDN’T realize what a character Arch was? He invited discourse, his candid humour was legendary, and he really was a deep thinker. I think many of us were like family to him, and he really appreciated the people he ‘met’. He had a way of connecting with most everyone.

            I had many a great belly laugh at the give-and-take between Arch and Victoria (anyone remember the time Arch told Victoria he was broken down in his car by the side of the road and wanted Victoria to show up wearing something see-through? And she said she’d be right there — and sent him a picture of opaque boots? – oh, my) — he told me that he loved the fact that he just couldn’t get outdo her. 🙂 That man just rocked.

            Liked by 4 people

          • I feel similar every time I take a photo of the flower crab spider! And probably always will.


      • “I find what you contribute Peter to be very valuable.”

        Zoe, I couldn’t agree more.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Victoria and how have you been?
    Great post, this one and good to see you blogging again.
    1. While echoing the sentiments of Hariod on knowing what our authentic selfs are, I think I am much the same online and offline.
    2. Nope.
    3. Maybe or maybe not. Blogs are like scripts. They allow for almost a guided discussion which may not be the case in offline conversations.
    4. I don’t think it is something I have learnt, but I know I am impatient with most theist bloggers.

    ION, John should make the book available in epub format. I will buy.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hey Noel, thank you! I’ve been a bit busy, both in my head and in my community/state since the election. Mostly spending time helping to bail out water in this sinking ship, called the U.S.

      “1. While echoing the sentiments of Hariod on knowing what our authentic selfs are, I think I am much the same online and offline.”

      Last night, I got to thinking about his comment on authenticity, and I probably should have clarified in question #1 that I was meaning the person you are when nobodies around. So my question was, in essence, are you more like your “alone self” (what you think and feel), in an online setting compared to face-to-face settings? Are you equally as comfortable telling someone that they are way off base in their assumptions or beliefs about, say, religion, in face-to-face situation, compared to your online persona?

      It also makes me think about how those of us who were indoctrinated, extensively, by religion, might have more challenges to contend with because, 1), when you deconvert, you often don’t know who the hell you are because you spent so many years dying to your own desires, dreams, and personal opinions. Also, when you live in religious communities, your well being can be significantly impacted if you don’t conform to tribal values. So, you might be more inclined to be inauthentic for survival’s sake. Swarn wrote:

      I guess when I asked why I also meant it in the sort of broader sense of why can’t we become more like we are on the internet? Personally I’ve been using it for practice. lol

      That speaks volumes to me — and quite an honest admission. I think many people aren’t fully themselves in face-to-face communications, but are online, and so I wonder what it is about you and a few others who commented that makes you equally authentic, both online and face-to-face. I don’t necessarily thinks it’s about having more integrity. I think there’s more to it.

      Liked by 3 people

      • The ship will survive as long as it wasn’t build with gopher wood 😛
        Fortunately for those i interact with, it is the same both ways. Offline and online.
        Luckily for me, even though my countrymen and women are quite religious, it is not a bother.

        “I think many people aren’t fully themselves in face-to-face communications, but are online, and so I wonder what it is about you and a few others who commented that makes you equally authentic, both online and face-to-face.”

        Now, that’s a hard question.

        Liked by 3 people

        • “The ship will survive as long as it wasn’t build with gopher wood.”

          Lol — Did you know that Ark used to work on a cruise ship? Here it is. Fortunately he was no longer working for them.

          Everyone was rescued. There were no fatalities. That isn’t likely going to be the case with the U.S.

          Liked by 4 people

          • Gives one a bit of an idea how deep the ocean is … this was no little fishing boat and yet it got totally eaten up by the waters of the unforgiving sea.

            Liked by 2 people

          • That’s some scary shit right there.
            The country will survive


          • Actually, Victoria the story went like this ….

            I came to South Africa on a twelve month contract after turning down opportunities to work in Bermuda and on a cruise ship.

            Nine months into my contract in Johannesburg I began writing away for more work overseas. I re-investigated the Bermuda connection, but there was no position available, but there was one on the cruise ship, which I accepted.
            I would leave South Africa after Christmas, fly back to London and join the ship in February for a cruise that would, ironically, bring me back to South Africa.

            Ten and half months into my Johannesburg contract …. I met my (future) wife. She actually walked into the salon for a hair appointment.

            I was torn between continuing my global hairdressing ”adventure” or staying put and renewing my Johannesburg connection.
            I decided to accept the job aboard ship. ( an eight month contract if I recall?)
            However, I was not prepared to lose my new found girlfriend, for whom I was head over heels for.
            My contract ended, we both left SA and flew back to London where it was agreed that she would wait while I fulfilled my contract. My parents offered to help with temp jobs etc.

            When I discovered the ship was due to sail to South Africa we arranged to meet in Durban and take things from there.
            But the thought of being apart for so long made me have second thoughts and I eventually phoned the shipping company and explained I was unable to take up the position. ~They were none too pleased, as you can imagine.
            But I was in love, and some things g put the window in such cases.
            Afterwards I phoned South Africa, managed to renew my contract with the salon in Johannesburg, and we flew back a few weeks later after a holiday in the UK.
            Eleven months later we were married.

            The name of the company that operated the salon aboard ship was called Waves and of course, the vessel was the Oceanos.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Great story, Ark!!

              The things we do for love, eh? 😉 Isn’t there a song about that??

              Liked by 2 people

              • 10cc if my cranky memory is correct.

                There is more serendipity to the ship story.
                Initially,I had accepted all three positions, Jo’burg, Bermuda and the Oceanos but decided on Jo’burg as they processed all the paperwork first … and overseas was overseas.I was 21, it was all an adventure.
                I had kept this very quiet from work colleagues and was flabbergasted when one of the stylists, Linda, in the salon I worked at in Chester, collared me in the staff room almost bursting with excitement.
                She told me someone had just pulled out of a contract on a cruise ship and she had been offered the job!
                Of course that was me.
                I wonder what the odds are that two stylists from the same salon would have applied for and been offered the same job on board ship?
                And of course I was only offered the job the second time because (unbeknown to me) Linda had decided not to renew her contract and went to work for a salon in London!

                Liked by 2 people

  9. There’s a maxim that if you really want to learn something, teach it.

    In the same way, there’s an extra step between talking and writing that I think clarifies and organizes thoughts that otherwise might never be considered or examined/reexamined. I think this extra step makes thoughtful written contributions valuable in a different way that simple and responsive conversations don’t. And I suspect this sometimes grants online commentary about a topic or opinion more insight than otherwise might be ‘heard’ (busy as we are in person checking visual cues, determining emotional tone, figuring out if our responses are stimulating or boring, and so on). There’s no better way to get to know someone than to be exposed to how they think because we all know that the body changes and degrades rather dramatically over time but how we think keeps our interior persona at about 35 forever! That’s the real person.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. There are differences, to be sure; but, I think the social dynamics are pretty much the same. Honestly, I interact with people online and in person very similarly. I always try to treat people with dignity and respect. If they do not reciprocate, or if they are disingenuous or simply bat-shit crazy, then I lose interest in the relationship. Some see social media as an inconsequential outlet for their personal frustrations and/or questionable impulses, but that’s not me. Being true to oneself, by being consistent with others, is a trait I hold in high esteem.

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Honestly, I interact with people online and in person very similarly.”

      Hi Robert, thanks for your input. I think culture and where you live plays a big part of how one is able to interact with people in person. For example, I know for a fact that if I share my opinion about something, say, to my very politically conservative father, the shit is going to hit the fan. Lol The same can be said about most of the people in my community and state. So, I am very selective with what I say to him to keep the peace. But, online, I can express myself, and my opinions much more openly. Many more facets of myself can be seen online, than in my offline world. If I was living in, say, Scandinavia, or even in your neck of the woods, where it’s progressive, I might be able to be more expressive and opinionated, face-to-face without repercussions to my well being.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Thank you for your kind words, and I am glad you enjoyed that conversation with Esme as much as I did. I suppose I am more of the type that I am similar in person to what I am on-line, although writing things out usually does give me more time to argue any a more organized fashion. I am also probably more bold on-line, but as I said to Esme that’s something I am trying to get better at in person, and I think I have thanks to the internet. So I guess it still means that the internet has had a profound impact on me as well. lol How can it not, but I’ll admit, that for the people I really enjoy communicating with on-line, I know I’d enjoy it much more in person. Perhaps the other person would not and become all introverted and not no what to say. I certainly find that when I’ve met people in person who I’d previously only interacted on-line with, it still felt like I was with a brand new person for the first time and it felt different. If every language has a certain grammar, perhaps the on-line language is different than in person, even if your persona is unchanged, perhaps it still requires sometime to figure out how to communicate in that new language. 🙂

    I think Hariod’s comment is quite valid in that who knows what are authentic self-really is, which is why I simply like to look at it from the perspective of who I would like to be? If I’m part of a good community on-line as a result of who I am on-line, why wouldn’t I want that same type of community off-line?

    That being said, the internet allows us to cast a wider net and I know I am richer by those I have met on-line even if I may never meet them in person, I am so thankful the internet has allowed to me intersect with such people at all. 🙂 And if course there is at least one person from the blogosphere that I plan on meeting in person. 😉

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hey Swarn, thanks for sharing. You wrote:

      “I think Hariod’s comment is quite valid in that who knows what are authentic self-really is”

      I understand that there are many facets of ourselves, especially because we are social animals. Here’s where I’m going with the authenticity question, and I’ve already mentioned to Noel (Mak) that I should have clarified that question. I’m talking about the person you are when nobody is around, where you are not influenced by cues in your environment. I’m talking about the person you want others to know better, because its you, not the you that sometimes, or most often plays a social role that society/culture expects.

      You wrote: “I’ll admit, that for the people I really enjoy communicating with on-line, I know I’d enjoy it much more in person. Perhaps the other person would not and become all introverted and not no what to say. I certainly find that when I’ve met people in person who I’d previously only interacted on-line with, it still felt like I was with a brand new person for the first time and it felt different.”

      There is a part of the Disinhibition Effect when people lack any kind of visual face-to-face cues, their mind will assign characteristics and traits to someone during digital interactions. When reading another person’s message, they may insert characteristics that are imagined — of what a person looks like or sounds like, into their mind. The mind will assign an identity and traits to an online user according to that person’s own desires, needs, wishes, etc. — traits that the real person might not actually have. This effect can allow for fantasies to play out in an the person’s mind because he/she has constructed an elaborate system of emotions, memories, and images, inserting the user and the person they are interacting with into a role-play that helps reinforce the reality of the person on the other end within the mind of the user.

      You wrote: “That being said, the internet allows us to cast a wider net and I know I am richer by those I have met on-line even if I may never meet them in person,”

      I couldn’t agree more.

      ” And if course there is at least one person from the blogosphere that I plan on meeting in person.

      Counting the days. 🙂

      (edited for typos — ugh)

      Liked by 4 people

      • So I guess in terms of that context of authenticity, I would say that for the most part there is no side of me in the 2D world that is also not available to know in the 3D world. That being said there are parts that are harder to bring out in the 3D world than in here. Although, as I have mentioned before I find it hard to demonstrate how silly I can be in the 2D world. A part that’s much easier to let out on the 3D world. At least for me. I don’t think that’s true for everyone. Sarcasm, doing different accents and voice, these are all things that are a part of me, and that I think I do rather well (although all may not agree with me there, but at least it’s something I like about myself) that I can’t really bring out as easily in the 2D world.

        Liked by 4 people

        • ” I would say that for the most part there is no side of me in the 2D world that is also not available to know in the 3D world.”

          You are fortunate. In my offline life, I’ve had nobody to talk to about my painful deconversion experience (I did share some of it with my daughter). I had a very difficult time talking about my partners suicide, because my family felt like talking about it would just make me upset (which would upset them), so I held it in for years, until I could finally express myself in blog posts. I’ve had nobody to talk to about how hard it is to be a secular humanist in a culture that considers you a threat — and untrustworthy — where you remind them of death (as the studies have shown).

          I know that the things I am the most passionate are really only appreciated among my online friends. I know that, for the most part, people in my offline world don’t know me nearly as well as the people I’ve met online, because the people I’ve met online, who I’ve become quite close to, were drawn to me because of the things I’m passionate about, and they get it, because they have similar passions. If I were to talk about some of these things I love discussing online, to people in person, their eyes would soon glaze over, Lol That’s not to say that I don’t feel loved. I do.

          Again, I will emphasize — where one lives, and the culture they live in makes a big difference. I live in a culture, where most people just want to talk about religious fairy tales, who got “saved” last Sunday, and what happened on Duck Dynasty. #laughcry

          Liked by 4 people

  12. I’m in the header too! *passes out* – only with appreciation Victoria – thank you so much for valuing my exchange with Swarn enough to write a post around it. I particularly like that you felt as though we were in your head, writing words you think yourself, it’s one of the best things about online writing – finding others we can connect with this well.

    1) Well I’m on a Cloud in the Troposphere and visit many different dimensions so both 2D and 3D have their joys and challenges, and I wouldn’t choose one over the other either way.
    2) No. In a nutshell. Hahahahaha.
    3) Well you know this one for me already as I wrote about that, and have many older friends I’d never have become close to in the 2D world.
    4) That I could easily start and cult and run it successfully. And that my writing pleases far more people than I’d ever have dreamt it would.

    Thank you dear Victoria. I am honoured and thrilled to have featured in this post, and agree with many others who say this is a place where many fine and interesting people gather, all of whom have good hearts.

    – esme hugging Victoria and getting the sticky buns out upon the Cloud

    Liked by 5 people

    • Haha — that was a glorious reply. I’m still laughing about #2, and it makes me want to meet you in person even more, now. Who knows, the way things are going here in the U.S., you might have a new refugee friend — oh wait . . . 😂😂😂

      Btw, I so owe you an email, and my sincere apologies not getting back to you sooner. I hope this post makes up for it, at least in part. Your post, and the comments that followed, rocked. I told Swarn that it’s hard describe the reaction I felt reading your exchange. There was a connectedness that made it feel so special to me, and one I’ll never forget.

      – Victoria hugging back and excited about the sticky buns (I hope they have pecans). xox

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stranger things have happened, and we have a good thirty to forty years left in us (I hope) so nothing is impossible. I;m glad you’re meeting up with one blogger, how wonderful will that be?! Fear not about te emails, no-one in the known (or unknown) niverse is as slow at replying as esme. Really, always in your own time, that’s part of the fun – no pressure *nods a great deal*.

        – esme feeling much happier for reading Victoria’s words and shoving some pecan nuts in her sticky bun (that sounds so dodgy, hahahaha) upon the Cloud ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Hello, Touch Of Cinnamon, and welcome. Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions, and for the follow. The images on your blog are amazing.

    Your answer to #4 really stood out to me. It’s brutally honest, and I think that you are not alone in feeling that way. I was reminded of a funeral I attended about 7 years ago. At the memorial service, the son (John), a middle-aged man, spoke about his mother — a mother he learned he never really knew. He only knew her as his mom and provider. She’d been widowed when he was a child, and never remarried. John said that as he was going through her things, he found notebooks where she had journaled much of her adult life. He was taken aback having realized that he’d never taken the time to get to know his mother as a person. I wonder how many people have died throughout history, having never been known by the people in their lives.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The written word is usually more measured and considered than the spoken. Its construction can be revealing at levels we don’t always intend.

      On places like this, being faceless (with or without a photo) releases you, giving you license to express sides of yourself that those closest to you in ‘real life’ could never imagine.

      The most important adult relationship of my life grew online. Creating beautiful words, romancing, fantasising, dreaming this way has been more emotionally and spiritually revealing than decades of ‘real-life’ interaction. Both are important but the online has been far more challenging, captivating and enchanting. It’s given me license to be explorative of my own needs and desires.

      Going back to your comment about never really knowing the people around us, I wonder if it is inevitable. Our loved ones can give us retrospective accounts of their lives in minute detail but it’ll be skewed. There will be omissions and embellishments of events and emotions. Maybe we should just love/accept those parts of themselves they chose to share with us.

      Liked by 2 people

    • NeuroNotes would it be possible for you to remove my comments, please. I


  14. Hello Touch Of Cinnamon, I found your answers 3 & 4 to be sad. I wonder why you don’t get close to anyone, and why you can’t be yourself. Can I help? If you want you can email me instead of posting it publicly. Here is my email. . Be well. Hugs


  15. Sorry to be late to the party! My internet was down all day yesterday (I about went nuts!). All I had was my phone connection and it’s not the greatest way to communicate on blogs.

    Anyhoo … in response to your questions. Yes, it’s easier for me to be my authentic self online — primarily because I live with someone who has pretty much total opposite perspectives on life. He’s not a “Christian,” but he leans towards belief in a god … and he’s a Conservative/Republican. Thus, most of our communications tend to be limited to subjects like “what’s for dinner.” 😉 ‘Nuf said.

    I have few “outside” friends. Not that I’m anti-social but rather that my interests tend to be “younger” than most in my age group. (Whoops! Have I told on myself?) Also I live in a small rural town where “everybody knows everybody” — and I tend to be a bit more private than that.

    And finally, I love to write! In my younger, busier, work and family-filled days, I tended to write more creatively. As circumstances have changed through the years, my writing focus has also changed. I would like to get back to being more creative (as some of you know, I started a “creative” blog), but so far that side of my brain is still being lazy.

    Anyway, this has been a fascinating blog topic and I loved reading the comments. Too bad others didn’t contribute as I’d be interested to learn more about some of the online “regulars.” 🙂 But I guess some people are just not comfortable “revealing” themselves … even behind an anonymous wall of protection.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I goes way past ‘just not comfortable’ when both you and your family enjoy the experience of becoming targets not just of dedicated and daily harassment but violence towards you, your spouse, and your children.

      Some people take their disagreements way too far and the only protection I have is either withdrawing my opinions entirely from any kind of publicly accessed platform or by staying (relatively) anonymous.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Timely comment, Tildeb. Dickhead (he needs no other explanation) has just used my surname on his site. I SO wish I had thought to employ anonymity. 😦

        Liked by 2 people

        • I know what you mean and I know you know what I mean! I doubt Branyan and his gang of misfit nits would dare venture outside of their bubble world and into the high arctic to visit you in your igloo. But it shows a stunning lack of character for him to post information you have not offered about you… Why am I not surprised at his vindictiveness?

          Liked by 3 people

        • “. . . has just used my surname on his site. ”

          I agree with Tildeb, a stunning lack of character.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Branyan? How did he get that? Is he a stalker as well as a dickhead?

          Liked by 2 people

          • @Carmen Mar. 15, 1:45 pm

            Liked by 2 people

            • Zoe,
              That sound you hear is me kicking my own arse. 😦 (my own fault for being so trusting)

              Liked by 1 person

              • Hello Carmen. Forgive me but you shouldn’t be the one getting kicked. Ok I am not 100% sure of who the people are you are talking about, but I am sure that they did something low down, unethical and mean. Right? I do expect some proper behavior in people, especially those who have access to information on others. There is a right way and a wrong way to treat people in a civilized society. If you are proclaiming that you follow and believe in and speak for a morally superior deity, if you are thinking you hold the moral high ground, if you are holding yourself up as the model others should follow, I damn well expect you to be above reproach. That means you act in ways to help people, work for more freedom and respect for people, insure everyone has equal civil rights. So in this case it is the ones claiming to be “Christians” and god worshipers who should be kicking themselves. They should take steps to fix the problem they created. IF I can care about others so deeply as I do, and I don’t need the fear of eternal punishment to do the correct thing, then I really do demand that those who claim to be so much better than I, that they lead by making sure they are not acting as jackasses and delinquents. Be well and happy. Hugs

                Liked by 2 people

          • What JB did to Carmen is a perfect example of how evangelical Christians tend to not respect boundaries.

            Liked by 2 people

        • Ugh! That’s so intrusive! Whether you agree with a person on topics or not, people need to keep other people’s private information private! I’m so sorry that he did that to you. I know so many of us email each other and comment on different blogs, we have always understood to keep the private details private, no matter what. It reminds me of my prolife days. I could never bring myself to picket a person’s private home or even their neighborhood, no matter what. My former Christian moralist acquaintances thought I was wishy washy.

          I don’t even know who this guy is, all I know is he is horribly cruel to do this to you. Still, sounds typical of that Jesus agape love though. So sorry, Carmen.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Sounds ominous, tildeb. Sorry you’re in this position. 😦 However, I don’t think you’re alone when one considers the plethora of individuals hiding behind avatars and unidentifiable monikers.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Of course not… but you’ll notice I never go after personal details of people because I have a deep respect for their right to privacy. And I’m in no way suggesting you are. It’s the throw-away idea that I’m addressing here.

          Who and what you are in real life to my of thinking plays almost no part in the value of ideas and opinions offered… unless the topic involves a degree of real life expertise, in which case I would often defer if central to the idea.

          I guess what I’m trying to point out in a circumbendibus way is that anonymity is not necessarily a quaint kind of shortcoming, perhaps a peek of character shyness coming through or what have you. Nor is what anonymity might mean a reflection of one’s assumptions made about it (and this is really the reminder I am offering here).

          So, just something to keep in mind; a person’s privacy is far more important than most people might realize. This concern about degrees of privacy online is going to grow significantly in the future, I suspect, once we begin to realize just how vulnerable we have made ourselves to be due to our own revealings.

          I have encountered this idea I infer from your throw-away line – that anonymity is somehow a sign of less bravery, so to speak, than those who sign their names to their writing – that one’s opinion or idea is stronger when signed than one offered without the personal identification. I find this particularly interesting when compared to, say, charitable donations or gifting… where attaching the same personal identification of who is doing the giving somehow reduces the virtue of the offering!

          So, I wonder, which is the case? Is an opinion or idea or insight – just like the value of a gift – really made any more virtuous by anything other than its stand-alone merit?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Not sure if this is what your meant, tildeb, but I’m not against anyone who prefers to remain anonymous. Too many have shared their reasons and personal circumstances for doing so for me to make any kind of judgments!

            And yes, I agree. The privacy issue will undoubtedly grow in significance in the future. There’s already too much “sniffing around” by the government and it will most likely grow as the “Radical Islamic Terrorism” threat continues to be pushed.

            I became a blogger (of sorts) almost 10 years ago. Had I known then what I know now, I might have done things differently. But, as they say, it is what it is.

            Liked by 4 people

    • Hey Nan, I’m happy you joined the party. You wrote:

      “I have few “outside” friends. Not that I’m anti-social but rather that my interests tend to be “younger” than most in my age group.”

      Ditto. Also, I’m limited to finding like-minded friends where I live. Very limited. I was fortunate to connect with a few people on FB, who are locals and share similar political/progressive interests, but not necessarily having much in common other than that. I really appreciate those who took the time to comment here.

      This particular post got a lot of traffic, which surprised me because I’ve been MIA for several months. There clearly was an interest in this topic, but I am inclined to agree with you that some people are just not comfortable going down the vulnerability lane. I’ve already had one person, a newbie to my blog, ask me to delete their comments. I understand, and appreciated the courage it took to share so personally.

      I will be meeting Swarn this summer — as he and his wife invited me for a 2 week stay, so I’m beyond excited. Of course, we have also gotten to know one another via the phone, so I feel pretty confident that we will all be quite comfortable being ourselves around each other. There are several of my online friends (including you), I hope I get to meet in person, someday.

      ” I love to write! “

      And it shows. You are quite talented, Nan, not to mention, a published author. Writing still intimidates me because a bit as I’m challenged with dyslexia, and not always comfortable with making myself vulnerable to the public, but becoming a blogger, and being a part of this community has been one of the most rewarding and growing experiences of my life.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I will be meeting Swarn this summer How very cool! You must share your experiences after your get back home.

        Yes, it would be a kick to meet you in person. Doubtful, however since there’s a LOT of miles between us. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, Nan, I have immediate family in Northern California, so you’re not that far from there. You just never know. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • Speaking of such things (and I hope I’m not going too far off-topic, here), I have met two of my blogging friends ‘in person’. In the summer of 2014, a friend I had met online (and her husband) came to visit from South Carolina and stayed a week with us. It was great – we had lots of laughs! Than last summer, another friend from New Hampshire (whom we had met the previous spring) came to visit. She had the plans all made and the I had to leave so I asked hubby if he’d entertain them without me here and he said, “Sure, no problem!” So he had Diane and her three children (two of them were in their early twenties) here for the best part of a week – they all had a great time.

          Liked by 3 people

  16. On a more Sinister note, I see that Tiribulus is back. Seems to be asking for you Victoria (as well as border line stalking Ruth):

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw that earlier today, as I’m following the thread via email. I simply won’t waste my time with Tiribulus. He’s got issues. Serious issues. In case you missed it, he wrote this on Violetwisp’s blog in 2014:

      “God, that is, THE God, who in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, is Himself the standard by which ALL things are measured. That means when he commands Joshua to kill every man, women, child and beast in Canaan that that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. It means that when he causes Israel to eat their own children as reported in Jeremiah 19 that that is PERFECTLY holy righteous, just and good.

      It means that if He has decreed all of the horrific human misery, suffering and death in all of history that that is PERFECTLY holy righteous, just and good. It means that if He has decreed the existence of billions of human beings for the expressed purpose of casting them into the lake of fire in judgement for sin that He also decreed that that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good.

      It means that if He has purposed that everything we consider to be bad, immoral and unthinkably terrible shall be so ordered by divine mechanisms known only to Himself, to His own glory for reasons sufficient unto Himself that that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good.

      It also means that His not caring one bit how you (or I) feel about that is most assuredly PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. I sleep like a baby knowing that every time I hear about some gut wrenching blood curdling act of barbaric depravity, that my Father God has from eternity seen fit to assign purpose to it that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good.” ~ Tiribilus


      • He most definitely is demented in his thinking/reasoning. I’m awe-struck that ANYONE would even consider this viewpoint!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Apparently a lot of people do. Divine Command Theory. He’s just more openly expressive.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Or he could just be a Calvinist?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Exactly — to the TULIP


            • When I studied TULIP as part my theology training, I found it very hard not to see ‘God’ as a monster of sorts, given that according to the theology ‘God’ decides who will be ‘graced’ with salvation before they are born and no action of the others, chose not chosen, will avail anything. According to the theology from the moment of their conception the ones not chosen are destined to the Lake of Fire for eternity no matter what they do.

              So much for Free Will!

              The Calvinists use the Augustine logic to explain it, which is everyone is guilty so all should expect punishment from ‘God’ but in ‘his love and mercy’ ‘God’ saves some. So Augustine said, ‘it is a wonder that any are saved at all’.

              I thought very deeply on these issues in the year leading up to my deconversion and never once could I see this as fair. Indeed I held out hope that in the vagueness (contradictions) of the Bible that things were really not bad.

              The whole concept appalled me. The fact that Tiribulus seems to exalt in it says something about how he thinks.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Peter, like you recently mentioned on Violetwisp’s post, “Tiribulus has a good handle on theology and thus shows just how shocking the the theology of the Bible is when taken to its logical conclusion.”


              • If you look at Augustine’s life prior to his exalted conversion, you would understand why he thought debauchery was the norm and that ‘everyone’ was such a sinner… as he himself clearly was. I think it was a case of assuming everyone of such means as he was must share a common ‘nature’ that can only be described in religious terms as ‘sinful’. Because he wanted everyone to be in the same boat, he presumed everyone was… thus, making him ‘normal’. He was anything but.


                • His ‘Confessions’ are a borderline ‘porno’ yet are seen as a Christian classic.

                  What shocked me most was that when he became a Christian he just dumped his mistress who had fathered his child, he cast her adrift. As a Christian this appalled me, I thought he should have ‘made an honest woman of her’.


  17. Wouldn’t say much different at all, although its much harder to have religious debates in the 3D world. Case in point, Saturday I was at a wedding. Great day. At dinner a wonderful guy (a gay graphic designer) asked what I write about. “Atheism” I replied happily. “Oh,” he answered, and took it no further. This is a very catholic country, even, it seems, among the gays. Being Brazil though, we both went on to get quite drunk and had a blast. I’m sure if I were in certian parts of the States it might have unfolded quite differently.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I would say one of the great things that the 2D blogging world affords me is the opportunity to discuss and/or argue with people I have would never have otherwise been able to. I also am certain that blogging – written communication – give much more ample time to arrive at a position and defend it as well as listen to the counter arguments to it. I suspect a lot of people might feel the way I do, but I think I’m much better at written communication than I am at verbal. Some people are naturally gifted at both (like Christopher Hitchens for example) but that’s pretty rare I think.

    I hope all is well!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am of the same opinion, and especially with regard to it affording me the opportunity to discuss and/or argue with people I would never have otherwise been able to do. Online debate and discourse has stretched me. As a woman living in a very conservative environment that devalues women, online discourse helped me gain the confidence in my 3D world to tell them to fuck off when they try to silence my voice. I’m a little more diplomatic than that (most of the time).

      Hanging in there, Ashley. Hope all is well with you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Okay, here it goes, this thought has been whirling in my head since I first saw this post. I think it’s time I share it.

    I don’t think that I’ve shared this with you, Victoria or with any other blogger. Not only do I comment on secular blogs in spurts because of my overtly religious environment, I do it because I trip over my words at times. Occasionally, I see it after I post a comment, but it’s really obvious when I speak to someone in person. I don’t think that I have an official speech impediment, but I run my words together and can’t always say sounds properly.

    For many years, the neglect and abuse got quite bad with my parents. As a result, it seemed to give license to other adults to pick on me and other kids to bully me, particularly girls. My worst time in childhood was between the ages of eight and thirteen. I was even anorexic at eleven to twelve and I visited it again in high school. During those five years in particular, I spent time between a couple of different public schools and three private/Christian/church schools. The Jesus girls were always the worst. They’d play games of telephone right in front of me about my lice and filth issues. Often girls gathered around me in the restroom and outside during recess and tell me to say certain words. I’d repeat them back to them and they’d make fun of me. It was during this time that corporal punishment was huge with my parents and my teachers. My dad often made fun of my body and my speech. I was often between speech classes and other special education classes because I was considered a slow reader and a slow learner altogether. I was even in a remedial class in ninth grade.

    Forward to my adult years. I seriously began to question so much about the Bible and Christianity. I was often gas lighted as a result. Again, my words were ridiculed and silenced, but for very different reasons.

    Hence, why I’d rather share openly on line versus in person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Charity. My heart aches with the suffering, the pain , humiliation, and the deep desire to be some part of the others that you describe going through. I am so glad you had the strength to develop past that. To break out from under that situation, the abuse and neglect, the problem with your parents must have been hard enough. I would add numbing and fearful also . To then have to struggle your way to break away from an aggressive possessive religion and suffer the abuse of the church members is a task so large I have trouble understanding it all. I sat here and read your comment with a trembling in my body. I wish I could have reached out to the girl you were and offered my hand in friendship. I am so glad you found your husband and that your strength grows every day. Be well. Warm hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I swear, Scottie, don’t you ever stop being you! It’s okay, love. The therapy is bringing a lot of this out. I was well aware of bad memories for years. I’d bench them on the sidelines and occasionally would glance at them out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes pretending they weren’t there or they at least weren’t that bad. Now many of them are coming out unto the playing field and I’m having to sort through them. Sometimes it’s not about the memories as much as it is about dealing with the core belief that they gave me about myself. That’s what I’m dealing with now.

        Yeah, we would have been an interesting set of friends back then. The swirly looking dark headed quiet girl with the Yankee accent in the South with her kind and tall surrogate gay big brother. They all would have laughed at us both, but at least we’d be happy and have each other. Honestly, that’s all that matters.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Charity, thank you for sharing so personally on this topic. I have always been awed by your fortitude, considering all you’ve been through. I can’t even imagine how difficult it was and has been for you. The progress you’ve made in such a short time is commendable.

      As you know, I was diagnosed with dyslexia in my 30’s, and while I still have challenges, it was especially pronounced when I was a child. During my years in school, teachers didn’t have the skill sets to recognize the symptoms, and my parents certainly were unaware of this condition. I experienced a lot of shame.

      As I was reading your comment, I was thinking that perhaps you may have experienced dyslexia, as well. Check out the symptoms in children and adults, and keep in mind that this is a comprehensive list, so most people with dyslexia didn’t have all the symptoms in childhood and may have overcome some in adulthood. I still have difficulty organizing my thoughts into words, both verbally and in writing, but I think I’m better at it when communicating online because I have time to think about it, and don’t feel pressure to “spit it out.” haha Ironically, the strengths that come with dyslexia (as noted in the link) played a major role in my departure from religious beliefs. Silver linings.

      ” Again, my words were ridiculed and silenced, but for very different reasons. Hence, why I’d rather share openly on line versus in person.

      That is completely understandable, and relatable. Living in a conservatively religious part of the country, with churches on every corner, where Christianese as the main language, trying to navigate through the tribal quagmire where people feel it’s their “god given” duty to tell you what to do, what to think, and how to feel, is no picnic.

      Love ya, Charity. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • So true. This speech thing is something I want to discuss with my therapist tomorrow because so much of it is tied to my anxiety. I also get panicky in speaking with others around here because of the nagging fear of being judged.

        I feel bad that your dyslexia wasn’t diagnosed until your 30s. You’re so incredibly smart, but I’m sure many judged you harshly because of your learning condition. They were too ignorant to recognize the Einstein before them.

        If it wasn’t for you, V, I would still be floating around thinking that all of my religious drama was only in my head. And that there was no validity to my trauma. You helped me to feel normal. You also directed me into better understanding what impacts the brain and how the brain affects our lives. I’m so fortunate to have a secular therapist who specializes in trauma and who understands how the brain is a useful tool in deprogramming through rewiring. She still continues to read studies and books about neurology as well.

        I can see that dyslexia may be something for me to look into. I do have a really difficult time reading books. And before I post comments or send a message to someone, I read it and re-read it again. After I send it I still find all kinds of mistakes and incomplete thoughts throughout it. Thank you for the information, I will certainly see if any of it pertains to me.

        Thank you for your kind words, Victoria. Here’s to wishing you and everyone else, an excellent rest of the month. I want to state here and now that I love my WordPress family and I’m very slowly developing some bonds on disqus. I’m taking a little time off from both, just for a while. Everyone reading this needs to know that I love them. Everyone needs to understand that I desire for everyone of you to be happy, encouraged and to enjoy good physical, mental and emotional health. It is spring. It is a new day and time to be loved and to share the love in our hearts. Every secularist reading this has encouraged me in countless ways. I love you, Victoria and I love my other blogging friends as well.

        I’m sorry I’m so emotional, I’ve just been thinking of Ark over the weekend. I don’t want to lose any of you. I certainly don’t want any of you to pass away alone and in pain. I just don’t tell you all that I care and love you all enough. For years I’ve told hubs and my kids that our home is to be a safe haven of peace and love. I feel that way about secular blogs. They are places of honesty, hope and productive discussion, as well as methods to help us heal. I’m so sorry, I sound like that girl in the gym in “Mean Girls”. She didn’t even go to the high school in the movie but still showed up to unify the 11th grade girls because she was so sensitive. Please excuse me.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Charity, I like reading what you write. And that was hardly a ‘long-ass’ comment; compared to me, it was the length of a short introductory paragraph!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha, Tildbe, but I bet she’s got you beat in the email writing department. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, but you’re so brainy. I learn something new every time you post a comment. Thank you for that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, CB. You’re not so bad yourself.

          You have to have tremendous courage to start taking steps towards gaining insight, perspective, understanding and, eventually acceptance of who and what you are even with so much of that past life that is painful or dysfunctional. You have to re-examine, where you’ve been, how it has shaped you, what tools you’ve relied on, what kind of changes you want to implement, and how you can move from where you were to where you want to be. That’s a tough road but – and here’s the thing – such a journey is a pretty exciting plot line. It’s not boring. And, as the author of how you live – with everything that has happened and will happen to you – your continued participation online means we get to join you on this grand adventure from time to time . And that’s a privilege I hope more people can appreciate because it’s an opportunity to learn from you, our teacher in this endeavor… as we all are from time to time with each other and I think richer for it.

          Liked by 1 person

  20. Typical Charity. I wrote a long ass comment and it disappeared into cyber space. Basically, I have periods of commenting on line because I’m not comfortable speaking to people in person. Between anxiety and occasional speech issues, I’m not always comfortable talking to people, my religious environment doesn’t help much either.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Like Robert, I reckon I am pretty much the same offline as on and have no qualms discussing similar subjects in the same manner …. and yes, if someone like Branyan was at the table I would still tell him he is a Dickhead, although to be fair I would probably say it politely, enunciating the syllables.

    I used to be a little concerned about the anonymity thing, hence the Gravitar, which, in my naivety, I believed would keep the ”Real Me” free from prying eyes.
    But I knew little of how this blogging stuff or the internet worked and did not realise at that stage that the CIA, the FBI, the Templeton Foundation, the Fundamentalist Indiana Not Very Funny Christian Comedian Society and my Granny monitored everything I wrote on my blog.

    So what the frak… by now everyone knows my real name is Ethel Sidebottom, and that I actually live in a somewhat damp bedsit in Clacton-on-sea in the UK. I usually wear designer hair nets, discounted underwear from Marks and Spencer, and am currently having a torrid affair with my Sunni housekeeper, Suria. My favorite food is Beans on Toast, My two favorite books are: How to say Fuck like Gordon Ramsey, and other culinary disasters, and: Join-the-dots Karma Sutra, Lesbian edition.
    Anything else you might like to know, either speak to my parole officer or my therapist.

    Liked by 5 people

  22. Off topic**. Happy Birthday. Wishing you many more . Love having your input and thoughts. You are grand. Birthday Hugs for Victoria 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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