Some time ago, Don Little pointed me to this post over on Creating Passionate Users. In a nutshell it says
If you think, you cannot be afraid. If you’re afraid, you cannot think. The mind shuts down. It’s built that way. Fear is a reflex that shuts down rational thought to allow you to move out of the way of danger.
Myself, I’ve been accused of being fearless in my willingness to confront what I see as “the issues.” Well, that’s not quite true, but the process of having to write means I have to stop and think. I have to do the “take a deep breath” thing and consider where to begin the ramble. Once I begin, the rest is easy — sorta.
All this leads me to consider what part fear plays in one’s willing participation in a social space. If you walk into a roomfull of strangers — how do you react?
Fear? (oh my god, i don’t know any of these people what am i going to say who wants to hear what i may be thinking how to i talk to them where will i stand is my fly zipped how am i going to … )
Anticipation? (oh cool. what an interesing crowd! this should be fun … )
Calculation? (Hm. There’s Smithers, she doesn’t know me but perhaps I can stand next to her and people will talk to me thinking that I do …)
Of course it depends on the situation — a cocktail party would generate a different response than, say, a lynch mob. The size of the group, the degree to which you know the people in your immediate sight, and the purpose of the convocation all have a bearing on your response.
Now what happens when you move online?
You don’t know, necessarily, who’s going to be there. You don’t know who might see your work later. You may know that you’re going to be observed by people who intimidate you. Or who have the power to change your life in ways you don’t really want.
Or maybe, you care deeply about something and are willing stake out some turf and see what happens.
My late father always told me, “Life is a risk.”