Then there are the rest of us. Those who, no matter how comfortable they might feel in their own skin, would rather die than have a spotlight on them. We're the ones who would forget how to spell "the" at a spelling bee, the self-conscious stutterers, the stage-frightened, the wusses.
"Hi, I'm Julie, and I'm a chickenlittleshit."
I fool some people, sometimes. Maybe even most people most of the time. For instance, I stutter sometimes. Not often, but enough to be self-conscious of it, enough that I hear it and know to take my time speaking to avoid it; I don't think even my husband or mother has picked up on that. Also, I do pretty well at poetry readings. If I know and am comfortable with my material, I can "comfortably" speak in front of a crowd of thousands. I've done it. I was shaking, but my voice was steady.
However, I still avoid jumping into shark infested waters of public political or religious debate. Which is a shame. On some levels at least. No matter how adamantly I might oppose an opinion, I am more likely passively volunteer to be the attacked straw man than to be the vocal minority. Heck, I'm not even likely to be a member of the vocal majority.
So while I applaud and encourage the freedom of expression, I self-censor. I don't bring up the fact that I don't think Obama is a god, or that even though a close family member once admitted to thinking Hillary might be the Antichrist and another very Republican family member voted for Obama to thwart Hillary, I would rather have had Hillary as the democratic nominee than Obama. Nor do I mention that, given the options, I'll vote for McCain when the time comes.
But then I think about how much of elections is about name recognition and general publicity. And I wonder what Jane Undecided might think as she surfs through cyberspace. The "Yes McCain Can" posts are a little less visible than those on the other guy. Mostly because new things, new people, changes are exciting. So people will talk and write about the new thing more, with more passion. What happens to the old guy? What about those who just might vote for him?
I'm asking these questions of myself as much as they're rhetorical. A lot of this has to do with reconciling my own largely conservative -- though not necessarily "Republican"-- beliefs with the ballot I'll cast in November. And with each ballot thereafter. I do this in hopes that maybe once I know better what I believe and how those beliefs translate into political ideology, maybe then I'll be ready to voice them more freely, without fear of the inevitable cyber-smackdown.
In other news, I wrote a poem today as promised; "Happen" (which may be retitled) can be read by logging into shakespearesmonkeys.com.