May 9th, 2008

Attention Creatures of The Night!

I had a dream (nightmare) last night that I made a comment on someone's livejournal that may have effectuated the harassing calls I have been receiving. (They have ceased by the way. My telephone is broken!) I dreamt that I made the following statement:

"I am sexually aroused by telephone calls, chats and SMS!"

I had a minor panic attack when I woke up this morning and spent a good half-hour going through livejournals searching for the comment. Then I came to my senses, realised I never made this post, and went about my day. But I still feel anxious about this...

I think it's because I'm starting to blame myself for inviting this sort of bullshit. I do know deep inside that I haven't done a fucking thing wrong. All I've done is try to be myself to the best of my abilities and keep a level head.

Sometime around the new year my comic got a surge of attention. I was really ecstatic about this but I also found myself ill-equipped in dealing with the influx of readers and "admirers". Thanks for thinking I'm sexy and exciting Internet, but should you see me in the street you'd walk right by. Anyways, my strategy in dealing with this was to just try be myself. What else could I do? And I'll tell you, Rene Engström is a pretty shy, but also friendly human being. I hate shit like status and pretension, so I never wanted to hold a huge distance between myself and my readers. I was so happy to have you guys, you know?

And then THIS happens. Where does that leave me? How the hell am I supposed to act now? I feel like I'm just as ill-equipped now as I was back at the new year, despite heaps of advice from well-meaning, experienced web-cartoonists.

Being myself means being pretty open about a lot of things. I'm not ashamed of things that are perhaps slightly more "tabu" in other cultures, things like sexuality for instance. I posted a picture in the Half Pixel forums (as a joke) of me with bare shoulders. I ended up taking it down, much in the same fashion as I would have with my nightmare post from last night. I got scared. I have also deleted several hundred people from my list of Facebook friends. I have nothing to hide there, why shouldn't I friend a fan of Anders Loves Maria? Why shouldn't I post a picture of me with my bare shoulders when I normally have no problem with this?

How much have I changed? I mean change is necessary but I don't want my apprehensions to come about by way of threats. I have also always been rather proud of my naïvité and trust in people.

So balls to that! I'm coming back soon (not next week but hopefully the week after, this all depends very much on matters outside of my control). And I will try not to let this asshole affect me all that much. I will be keeping most of my private life and internet life separate. But just because I won't be "friending" people I don't know or have a good reason to trust, doesn't mean I am going to shy away from my values, let myself become a damn victim, and above all blame myself for this shit. If I feel like posting a picture of my bare shoulders, I will do just that. And if I feel the need to tell The Internet that I am aroused by telephone calls, chats or SMSs, I will. (Incidentally, I sometimes do, just not with you, Internet.)

See you soon!
Rene
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