[Friendly reminder that if you’re going to link to me you should use the proper pronouns. I know you’ve seen the comment, please fix your entry. Adding in that you put quotations around one of my names before, this seems to be more a case of your discomfort with my gender than a typo.
As for people who link to me and do use the proper pronouns – thanks. It does actually mean a lot.]
I’ve been considering what to write the past few days. I’m working on a few posts about my shrines, another about various art(ish) devotional projects I’m doing, and a smattering of other smaller topics. But I was stumped as to what to write. I knew I wanted to write up another post on online practices and interaction in modern Pagandom and polytheism. At first I considered writing about the block button (praise the gods for that feature), but I decided to put that on the shelf. Maybe next month.
(People really underestimate the use of the block button though.)
Finally, after a ridiculous time turning ideas over in my head, I decided to talk about what we decide to share online and the assumptions we make about what is shared.
It should go without saying that I don’t write about all my practices. Not publicly, at least. There’s plenty I don’t share, either because I don’t have the time to write it up (because I’m busy doing it) or because it can’t be shared. Sometimes it can’t be shared because a spirit doesn’t want it to be. More often, I just don’t feel like sharing. Nobody is entitled to all the details of my life. You’re definitely not entitled to all the details of my religious life, since it can be as private as my love life.
That said – I am pretty open about what I do. I like answering questions and dialoging with people so we can learn more about each other. I try my best to be upfront when I can’t answer questions (whether that be because I don’t know or because I’m not allowed to speak about the issue). I expect questions when I’m talking about the gods and spirits I work with; they’re not historical, and the first question is usually, “What are they?” I like sharing what I create or learn, since that’s why I’m creating and learning – to share.
Before I do something scary or settle down with an H.P. Lovecraft story, I’ll touch my fingers behind my right ear and pray to the Dierne. Before swimming I pray to the Ophelia. I pray to Antinous when I going for my daily bike ride. I thank the Clarene before I eat raspberries. And when I’m using my pop culture materials in my work, there’s just as much prayer and preparation as there is for my other religious activities.
Of course, it’d be hard for someone to know that unless they asked first. But assuming that because I don’t detail every small devotional act I do that those devotional actions don’t exist or aren’t happening makes me tilt my head in confusion.
My generation of polytheists and Pagans often has similar arguments leveled against us from within our religion as we do outside of it. We’re ‘self-centered’ and ‘lazy’ and so on and so forth. We’re the ‘me’ generation, so anything we create must be self-absorbed and shallow. I think if I hadn’t matured I would probably agree with those assessments. But…I grew up and got over myself. I don’t detest people because they use Facebook or Instagram or take tons of pictures. My stomach doesn’t roil with contempt when someone exclaims they are going to tweet about what just happened. I use social media too, and I blog, and I enjoy it, and I’ve learned how to use it to my advantage.
But often I hear that people who use social media aren’t ‘real’ whatever-word-we’re-favoring-this-week. We need to get off the computer because we’re not actually engaging in our practice. Or that technology will be the death of us all and ‘true’ whatever-word-we’re-using-today wouldn’t use it. I hear how we’re ungrateful and don’t do anything and don’t actually have a practice –
Without anyone ever actually asking.
Because somehow one is able to tell through the screen and across the distance who is ‘real’ or not, with just a glance.