1. What is your name?
I am the Lightbringer, lux aeterna, Mithras, Apollo, Helios, the unconquerable sun, Sol Invictus! Also just Ryan.
2. Tell us something about you, your background, and what you've been up to lately?
Where to even start? I don't like talking about myself, honestly. Always makes me uncomfortable. Well, for starters, I'm 29 years old. I live in Florida. I have blonde hair and blue eyes. I'm an Aquarius and I like long walks on the beach. I have a degree in Political Science, which nowadays translates into "I have a degree in retail management." Unlike everyone else I knew in school -- at all levels -- I loved writing essays. I'm not bad at it either. I have been published one time in an obscure academic journal almost ten years ago. Unfortunately, writing about topics like ancient religious practices, black metal bands, Transformers, and my favorite guns isn't especially lucrative. I'll come back to what I've been up to lately toward the end.
3. How did you discover Everything, and how did you become a noder?
Now this is an extremely interesting story! (For me, anyway.) Years ago, I was really active on mIRC. I had a good friend in a Transformers-related chatroom who was an Everything evangelist. He would constantly post links to writeups and talk about what a wonderful and creative website this was. His username here is Squizzle, which is the same as it was on mIRC. Finally after listening to him talk about the place for a year or so, I decided to go ahead and start my own account. I have to admit, I didn't really understand the place at first. Almost 11 years later, I still don't know if I do now. It didn't help that my one lifeline into the site never actually wrote anything or interacted with the community. I fumbled -- a lot. I didn't understand things like earn your bullshit or editorial standards. I was frustrated for a long time. Eventually, I started finding my niche...or niches, really. I bounce back and forth between topics I find interesting until I've exhausted all the information I have on the subject.
4. What are your favorite writeups -- both your own and from other noders?
This is a tough one. My favorite writeups of my own are Blood Axis, Roy Orbison in Clingfilm, SS Hell Camp, and Differences Between Greek and Roman Religion. The first because it was my first attempt at a writeup and it was not deleted. The next two are funny. I think the last one is one of my better researched and more informative writeups. As for those by others...All the gold you can eat, the Unaired Frasier masturbation episode, and just about everything from Noung, Bitriot, and The Debutante.
5. What are your favorite and least favorite memories from E2's history?
I'm going to say something controversial that not a lot of people would agree with: I don't think there was anything fundamentally bad about the "raising the bar" era. Maybe it's a generational thing, I don't know. I started reading the site when I was about 17 and I started writing when I was 18. At that age, most people aren't sophisticated enough to fully understand why there are different sets of standards for different sets of people. I was no different. I didn't get why I couldn't get away with posting something goofy but people who had been around longer could. Back in those days, too, it was very difficult to be seen. I could post a writeup at 9:00 AM and by 10:30 or 11:00, it would already be off the New Writeups list. What sucked about it is like 90% of the writeups that drowned out mine would be things like "How to fuck a crocodile" or a three-sentence paragraph correcting something in William Shatner's main node, usually starting with "Well, ACTUALLY...". Now, I understand that Megatron isn't a deeply significant writeup in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, in retrospect, it's sort of the same detritus that used to flood the place. But I liked the idea of holding people to a higher and more consistent standard. I know a lot of the people who joined in 1999 and 2000 saw this as a betrayal of the things that made the site what it was. They viewed it as their place being ruined. The quintessence, the je ne sais quoi, the style of Everything2 was changing. Raising the Bar meant missing the point. And in some ways, it did. But you have to look at it from the perspective of people like me. For years, E2 fought back against the charge that it was unfriendly to new noders...mainly by being unfriendly to new noders. I don't mean there was some type of conspiracy to keep new people away. However, the comments I got early on were not exactly helpful. Indeed, they struck me as passive aggressive and counter-productive. Same with bitchy softlinks. E2 in 2003 was a tough crowd. People would join and leave within a matter of months due to either losing interest or becoming discouraged. Because I am by nature a stubborn and obnoxious man, I continued pumping out writeups just to do it. But it was hard to dig through all the self-referential bullshit and in-jokes I didn't get to really derive any appreciation from much of what was being posted. I grew up in the era of Raising the Bar and I feel that that time period really helped me develop as a writer and if handled better, could have sustained E2's growth. It's sad that the site's die-hard vets don't feel the same way.
My least favorite memories from E2's history? Well, the passing of any noder is automatically thrown into this category, even if I didn't know them particularly well. I thought the trigger warning debacle was poorly handled. Even if I wasn't particularly active in 2012, I knew that would be bad news. I briefly considered Asamothing when it was going on. I don't think I have posted much that would rationalize a trigger warning but I would have taken that step in solidarity with anyone else who felt affected by the imposition of content warnings on their work. There are various other things that I could mention, but that would involve calling out individual users and I don't want to start any other shit.
6. What keeps you coming back (or not coming back, as the case may be)?
The writing. I read almost everything in New Writeups anytime I log on. Unfortunately, I have very sporadic access to an actual computer, so I can't really submit much anymore. I mainly have to read things on my phone. I have probably 10 or 12 writeups I've started but haven't finished that I intend to submit...eventually. One is over 5000 words long and is not quite halfway done. In May of this year, my wife and I had our first child, a little girl named Julia. That's mainly what I've been up to lately!
7. What do you hope for E2's future?
I hope that E2 can regain some of its formerly sizable active userbase. I also hope that it stays around for a good long time.
8. What does E2 mean to you?
I'm gonna be real with all of you reading this for a minute here. I have like one or two daylogs and I don't often talk about my personal life. E2 to me is a life-saver. For as long as I can remember, I have had severe problems with depression and suicidal impulses. I was at my worst between the ages of 17 and 21...which is when I was my most active on E2. I was also a heavy drinker and addicted to various types of pills in that time period. I felt very low. I found out that I wouldn't be able to attend the college I wanted because my father had spent all the money that had been earmarked for it (approximately $150,000) over the course of about 5 or 6 years, and he conveniently informed me of this fact during my junior year of high school, and by the way, when are you gonna go out and get a job and actually help me out around here? I had successfully alienated most of my friends and family due to my careless behavior. My life was garbage. My one hope was that I would be able to go away somewhere else and tell the world everything I felt like it needed to know through the one thing I really enjoyed -- writing. And then that was taken from me. So when Squizzle showed me this site, there was no way he could have known that he'd found the perfect outlet for me in terms of dealing with my issues. Time and energy that otherwise would have gone to me finding new and creative ways to destroy myself was instead dedicated to sharing minutiae about Transformers and proto-Indo-European religion with you guys.
9. Who are your favorite noders? Which ones do you miss the most?
Oh wow, I don't even know how to answer this. There are way too many people to mention. The noder I miss the most is hapax. She was awesome. I'm really sad that she left on the terms that she did.
10. Who would play you in the Everything2 movie?
Man, I don't know. All the actors I like are way too old to play me. Most actors my age are wailing eunuchs. I'd just have to play myself.
11. Please fill in the blank: "E2 is to the Internet as ___ is to the world."
The Library of Alexandria. Hopefully this one doesn't get burned down by cretins.
12. Any questions that I didn't ask that I should've?
I would have asked "What would you do to make E2 better?" And because I'm just that kind of guy, I'll go ahead and answer that question too!
First, I would figure out what sort of site this is supposed to be. Is this a site filled with high quality user created content that wants to grow or is this a site that's dedicated to assuaging its current userbase through repeating the same type content? If it's the second, sweet, we're good. If it's the first, though, the site needs to expand its userbase. We all know that the pace of new memberships is a lot slower than it used to be. E2 needs to get its name out there more and find new people to contribute. I feel very passionately about this. I bored many of my friends to fucking tears telling them about this place. A few of them signed up for accounts several years ago and either posted one or two things and quit or never actually did anything. The site needs to put itself out there more. Advertise on social media. Attract a new generation of writers who want their works out there. There's a reason that Wikipedia sucks and E2 doesn't: we get to use our own voices. Let's get back to letting people do that.
Everything2 Decaversary Interviews
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