During that time, I've seen a lot of "Men On The Internet", if you know what I mean. Pervies, letchers, fannyrats, smarmers as well as full-blown deviants. I think as the internet gains a stronger and stronger foothold into the realms of everyday life, the stereotype of the internet pervert is being slowly eroded and dismissed. But it's one which will never fully go away. It shouldn't. Because as with any stereotype, there is of course a certain amount of cases in which it is true.
However, it's not much fun for me. You can choose to believe what I'm about to say or not, I suppose. Any of my friends reading this will already know it to be true. I shouldn't, therefore, need to feel quite so defensive or eager to justify myself to strangers. And yet, I do. Because the fact is, I'm actually just an uncomplicated, straightforwardly, nice person. We do exist. We're the people who send you a nice email or a card just because, who compliment and praise you with no expectation of reciprocity. If I leave a nice comment, or send an email, or offer to do something for you, I am personally able to guarantee that I both (a) only do these things because I mean it and (b) that as far as I'm concerned, that's as deep as it goes.
Whenever I cross paths with someone online - again, us nicies will never go seeking anybody out, we'll just head to whatever forums interest us and if we happen to meet new people, it's just a bonus - I can honestly say my initial thought is, if I like them and like what they have to say or have done or made, that I would like to be their friend. I suppose this is rather childlike and naive, but I am. I suppose it's this rather uncomplicated outlook which gets me so upset when people accuse me of having ulterior motives.
I'm not going to let it change what I do. Hopefully as I meet new people and as, perhaps, some of them turn into real life friends, more and more people will see this for themselves. All I can do, I suppose, is try to toughen myself up and no get so upset as and when people accuse me of only doing or saying things to further my own cause. Because, of course, they will. For a lot of people, the online experience continues to be seen as a massive sausage party. All anyone can do - in any area of life, I suppose - is just to be themselves. Because the truth always has a way of making itself known.
So, all us internet nicies unite! We have nothing to lose but the unfair stigma!