There are a couple of things that make the internet one of my favourite places to spend a bit of time.
The first is the cross section of people you encounter: Here. Be. Everyone.
Put any subject, any group, any strange question that just popped into your head into Google, and there will be at least one other person seeking out the same thing (although I have, thus far, been thwarted in my attempts to find out the name of those fuzzy sticker things with ribbon tails you used to get at the dentist. What are they called?).
Over the years since the internet came into my life (circa 1996, when my sister, my dad and I gathered around what I know now to be a chat room, conversing with a middle aged man called "Rhino"), I've found people online who converge with me on a variety of subjects that my offline friends didn't 'get'. It's brilliant, it's what keeps me coming back.
Which brings me to the second thing I like about the internet. Discussion.
Yes, it's all out there. Fans of music I've never listened to, pygmy goat videos, all manner of pornography, religious discussions, pro-anorexia support groups, bombs, cats - lots of cats - and a whole raft of bloggers reviewing everything from politics to Mac cosmetics to countries.
You like all that? You can go and sit with your fellow online friends and charm each other with thoughts 'til the cows come home. I, on the other hand, will sit here and look at YouTube videos of bouncing greyhounds; blissfully unaware of the terrorist groups plotting world destruction on the other side of the virtual garden fence.
Other than to sate curiosity or arrest criminals, there seems to be no need to seek out and engage with those who don't share your views online. But we're human, so occasionally morbid curiosity takes over and we do. Luckily, there are forums for that, too. Places where conflicting opinions are encouraged. News sites, opinionated blogs, the comment sections of online magazines.
But the key to discussing things on the internet is:
1) making sure you get the right end of the stick - is this an appropriate place to air my views?
2) accepting that, when all is said and done, those who don't share your opinions are not evil. They're just different.
Nor are they wenches, or hopeless individuals who will fritter their lives away "racking up" so many men that by the time they meet a husband (who will be disgusted by their previous behaviour), they will be too old to have children anyway, and men will never look at them in the same way as they do now.
Did that seem out of the blue? It did to me, too. Yet the above is something I came up against on Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday. There are currently six comments still waiting in a moderation queue, repeating more of the same.
A group of people discussing their way of life on one side of the internet took issue with the way I'm living mine, and blogged about it. Two men arrived in the comments and told me exactly why I was Doing Life Wrong. The blog post that sent them here had a stream of condemning, religious, fanatical thoughts beneath it which I read, shook my head at, took no heed, and didn't look at again.
I didn't weigh-in on here. A lot of you did (thank you), and then came the inevitable, horrid trolls. Eventually I enlisted the comment moderation and then turned them off altogether (late on Friday, while I was out with my mates being a drunk, childless wench). Fatigue had set in. I was bored with an argument I didn't start and had no interest in, and it was a stale mate.
At which point I'd go back to rule 2 of discussing things on the internet: accepting that airing views is one thing, but repeatedly forcing them on others who don't share them - on their personal blog - is another.
It's a free internet. Say what you like. But at least have the common courtesy to do it in a forum where the subject is up for discussion, and respect the differing views you find there.
Because here's the thing, Simon, Mark et al: this blog is about my life. I invite people to read about it. But despite what the comment section might have you think, none of the choices I've made or am currently making are up for debate.
You want to exchange views, lecture and discuss the right age to have children? I'd start with The Sunday Times (£), Stylist Magazine, Vagenda and, as recommended by Kat in Friday's comments, XOJane.
They've got bigger circulations than here, and authors who probably have more cause for arguing online than I do.
Until then, you have a nice day on the internet. And please, leave me to have mine.