I come in peace

I feel like the Internet doesn’t understand me.

Actually, I don’t doubt that this is the case, but I don’t feel like I’ve been given a chance to explain myself either.

Why so cryptic, Jenn? Well, in the last few years, I’ve found myself getting blocked by other users on Twitter and Instagram. Upon discovering that I’ve been blocked, all I can do is scrunch up my face and utter “uh, okay…” to myself while staring at the screen, perplexed. Really, what else can I do? These users found something they dislike about me and felt it necessary to block me from seeing updates on their feeds.

But I’m here now to say that I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.

With online communication, it is sometimes difficult to interpret the manner in which someone is speaking. You don’t see their body language, their facial expression, or hear the tone of their voice. You only have words on a screen to go by. Most of the time, they are a mix of lower and uppercase letters. Sometimes all uppercase when emphasis or an increase in volume needs to be conveyed. Ideally, proper grammar is used, or thrown out the window entirely.

I think that I convey myself in a manner that is easily understood, but I must come across in a negative way to some if they feel a need to block me.

I see my online self as a more outgoing, playful version of my offline self. If I’m joking around or being sarcastic, most of the time I will end my sentence with a winking emoticon. If I’m talking about a subject that I am passionate about, I will probably use capital letters to emphasize my words and end my sentences with an absurd amount of exclamation marks. Did you spell something wrong? Yeah, I will probably call you out on it, but that’s just how I am. But I assure you. I’m not a malicious, axe-murdering stalker.

I’m on the Internet to socialize, make friends, and spend an obscene amount of time browsing Reddit. I met most of my current circle of friends on the Internet — my longest friendship with an “Internet friend” has gone on for 15 years, and just recently I attended her wedding. I’ve organized meet-ups with these friends, dated a few of them as well, and I think they’d give me a good reference as far as not coming after them with an axe. ;) (<– See? I’m winking! Sarcasm!)

What really hurts is when I am blocked by bloggers that I really enjoy following who encourage their readership to follow them on Instagram and Twitter. I don’t recall saying or doing anything that would make them want to block me — I just seem to be an unwelcome part of their readership. If they encourage their readers to follow them, but block some of them, what is the point in having a public account to invite people to in the first place? I’ve stopped reading their blogs because I don’t feel welcome to anymore.

But again, this comes back to the question “What can I do?” Hopefully one day they will stumble across my little blog, get to know me better, and maybe decide to unblock me. Aside from that, I guess I will just keep being myself.

And I know that I cannot please everyone, and that I will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I just want to be your friend, damn it! ;)

Have you ever been blocked by someone on social media? How did you handle it?

Who is Mr. Lethbridge?

He may be Lethbridge’s favourite inflatable companion.

Mr. Lethbridge, the anonymous persona known only by the image of a mustached blow-up doll, has floated around the local social media scene for the past few years, posting silly one-liners and funny links. Hiding behind the air-filled funny man is someone who cares a lot about Lethbridge and those who live here. I decided to interview Mr. Lethbridge (via e-mail, of course) to get to know more about the person behind the plastic.

A Lethbridgian View:  What made you want to become “Mr. Lethbridge” in the first place?

Mr. Lethbridge:  When I was a kid, I grew up with a vivid imagination. I had a blanket that made me invisible, and blue underwear that turned me into a superhero. I lived in a couch fort that transformed into a fantasy world where anything was possible. I had fun.

I became ‘Mr. Lethbridge’ online back in 2007. I created him because I wanted to have fun again, and I wanted to share my dreams with others. I realized that too often people lose their playfulness when they grow up. They get carried away in their responsibilities, fears, and anxiety. I realized this because it was happening to me. So, I decided to create something out of nothing. I decided to create something magical that could be entertaining, limitless, and good for the soul.

ALV:  What does Mr. Lethbridge actually do? What’s his purpose in life?

Mr. L:  Besides groom his moustache, Mr. Lethbridge does a lot of things such as watch movies with others, take people to concerts, or hold fun events. He is an online personality but he is also a reflection of my life. Some people call him the perfect stranger, and some people call him the perfect friend. He became real when I realized that he could be more than just a joke. A lot of people follow him because of the fact that his identity is a secret. Some people even confide their secrets to him because they view him as being someone neutral. He has helped people with hardships such as depression, loneliness, and even suicide. He builds unique and creative friendships. I want to use him to make the city of Lethbridge a better place through kindness, humour, and love.

ALV:  You’ve hosted a few fundraisers in the past. Which causes have you helped as Mr. Lethbridge? Why is this important to you?

Mr. L:  Mr. Lethbridge doesn’t just hide behind a computer, but he gets involved. Over the past number of years, Mr. Lethbridge has helped to raise thousands of dollars for different organizations and individuals. He has held several fundraisers for the Chinook Regional Hospital’s Pediatric Unit 5C for sick kids, and also for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lethbridge. He teamed up with local news anchor Kaela Carr to raise money for The Crohns and Colitis Foundation of Canada. He held a benefit concert for local girl Madison Hirlehey, who has unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. He helped organize donations for a local lady who had lost her home in a house fire. Last year he raised over $1000 for Last Chance Cat Ranch, and he organized several events to donate food and clothing to the homeless.

I have always been passionate about people, no matter what their walk of life is. I believe that if you are passionate about something then you should do it. If you love cooking, then you should cook. If you love writing, then you should write. For me, I love being able to help people and to build people up. If am able to make someone’s life a little better, then I will. If I can put a smile on someones face, then what I am doing is worth it. It’s important for me to give back to others because the simple act of reaching out to someone else turns you both into something connected.

ALV:  What has the response been from Lethbridgians about you as Mr. Lethbridge?

Mr. L:  Being a blowup doll can be quite controversial, but I like pushing the boundaries. People either love me, or they hate me. Some people are also afraid of the unknown, but I am not out to hurt anyone. I knew that there would be a certain fascination but also public scrutiny by putting Mr. Lethbridge into the public eye. I understand that people follow the things I do and say, and I have to be respectful of that. I am constantly blown away though by how much support Lethbridge has shown me, and continues to show me. There is a lot of love in this city. I couldn’t do any of this without my amazing followers, for they are my inspiration and my heroes.

ALV:  I bet that many have tried to guess your real identity. What are some of the most interesting guesses that have been made?

Mr. L:  Some of the more entertaining guesses have been Mark Campbell, Dar Heatherington, and former mayor Bob Tarleck.

ALV:  Will you ever reveal your true identity?

Mr. L:  I’m not sure. I’m still learning who I am for myself.

You can follow Mr. Lethbridge on Facebook and Twitter.

Hearing that a business you love is opening in your city

I thought I would continue with last week’s theme of what I find awesome about Lethbridge.

I am a huge fan of products from Bath & Body Works. Every time I’m in Calgary, I have to stop by their location in Chinook Centre (followed by a quick browse through the Lego store next door). So you can imagine the immense joy I experienced when I saw the following Facebook post by Bath & Body Works Canada:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy road trips no matter where I go, but soon I won’t have to drive white-knucked in Calgary traffic (eep!) or pay shipping to order their products online. I’ve even wrestled with the idea of applying to work there part-time when they open just for the discounts, but I’m not sure I want to sacrifice myself to the world of customer service again.

Anyway, YIPPEE! I now understand how others felt when businesses like DavidsTea and Cora opened in Lethbridge. Sometimes, even the rumours and speculation of what could be opening a location in the city is enough to get people excited. I’ve heard that a Harvey’s will be going into the new building in College Centre, and that The Gap might be coming back (but as a stand-alone store).

It’s nice to see that our city is starting to be seen as a viable place for these businesses to open shop.

Though I have a sneaking suspicion that Lethbridgians won’t be completely satisfied until a Red Lobster is finally announced.

What businesses would you like to see come to Lethbridge?