This is a red letter day, as it is my second anniversary as a noder. Two years ago today (after browsing around E2 as "Guest User" for several weeks), I decided to create an account so that I could begin posting writeups. Little did I know that fateful day that my whole life was about to change.
A quick glance at my nodeshare will show that I'm not a frequent poster of daylogs, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some reflections on this milestone... even though it probably has no significance to anyone but me.
Damn! Two years. In a way, it doesn't seem like it's been that long. Two years really isn't that long, relative to my age. But in a different sense, two years was another lifetime ago. When compared to some of "The Old Ones" on the site, it's no big deal, until I remember that most of them had only been around for that long when I first joined the site... and they were "The Old Ones" back then, too.
It's kind of hard to summarize what this web site has done for me, and how it's changed my life. That sounds kind of odd when I read it to myself, but I can't think of a better way to put it. Let me try to count the ways:
- In the beginning, E2 rekindled my love of writing for fun, and revitalized my interest in research just for the sake of knowledge. The light in my slowly rusting brain began to glow again, and my atrophied willingness to think critically returned, much to my delight.
- E2 consumed more and more of my time as I fell victim to its sweet addictive properties, and weaned me off of watching television. This is no small feat, and for that alone I am exceedingly grateful.
- It introduced me to an online community unlike any I had ever encountered in all my years as a denizen of the Internet. What's more, I actually liked most of these people called noders, and they seemed to like me too.
- The more I contributed, the more I wanted to contribute. Sure the votes and XP were fun and competitive, but I quickly realized that I was building a reputation based on the quality of my work. This was clearly more important than a bunch of imaginary numbers.
- The people who are Everything2 compelled me to want to meet them. They did this through nothing more than the power of their own words, and the fact that some of them were getting together one weekend. Incredibly, I got on a plane and flew to Boston to meet and stay with a bunch of people I had never even seen. I had never done anything like that before in my life, and I loved it. Something almost magical was happening.
- Shortly after that (and in no way connected to it), I was given the great honor of being "endorsed" by the administration. Any thoughts of giving up on this hobby quickly vanished. Not only was I vested, but I now had cool and scary powers. It was like E2 was shiny and new again.
- Then we lost Adam. This was incredibly hard, but it made me realize that I really cared a lot more about these people from the Internet than I had previously believed. They weren't just imaginary friends who lived in a window on my computer screen. They were real, with real problems and real lives that were very much like my own. I had made some deep bonds with these people, and they mattered as much or more to me than the people I worked with or the people down the block that I called friends.
- As my responsibilities on E2 changed, my perspective on the site did as well. I became less of a noder and more of a caretaker of the nodegel. I took the job very seriously... maybe a little too seriously sometimes. Learning how to exercise good judgement within the context of virtual chaos has resulted in no small amount of valuable personal development on my part. For that, I am grateful.
- I went to a few more noder gatherings, and finally hosted one of my own. There are so many things you can learn from people when you're with them in person that just can't be conveyed through our super-cool whizbang database and messaging system. And I have found that the more time you spend with noders, the better it gets.
- Gradually, I began to realize that my world view was changing. I was now traveling to E2 events on a regular basis. As I continued to meet new people, I was being exposed to different viewpoints and personalities that were quite a contrast from the white bread Southerners in my neck of the woods. It was eye-opening, and deep within my soul, a sleeper awakened.
- Through my exposure to and extended immersion in this web site, I have come to discover a world of possibilities for my life that I once considered to be out of reach. I have formed friendships that are as meaningful and rewarding as any I have ever experienced. And I have found the courage and the support system to take a giant leap of faith. E2 and its amazing writers really shook me up, baby, and made me finally realize that you can do anything you want in your life. And that it's not some abstract "you" that they're talking about. It's me. And surprise! It's you, too. Yeah, I mean YOU, goddammit. Are you listening?
Everything2 has encouraged me to grow as an individual, and has taught me a few important things about life. One of them is that a human being becomes a person through the sum of his or her life experiences. I guess I already knew that, but the degree to which this is true had never really come to the forefront of my understanding.
Draw a circle on a map, beginning anywhere, and it will contain the entire world as experienced first-hand by at least one person who lives within it. Some people have their circle expanded for them at an early age, being drug around behind nomadic parents or caretakers. Some choose to expand their circle themselves, through military service or academic studies at some far-flung university. And some people stay close to home, venturing only so far that they can easily return in a day's travel by ground. For them, television, books, music and the Internet provide an opiate nipple for the outside world, and assuage their feelings of wanderlust. Or so it was for me.
But now I'm living in California and starting over, building a whole new life. I sold my house, paid off my debts, quit my job, and hit the Road to Nowhere. I drove 2,850 miles across the United States, with all of my worldly possessions in a 15-foot truck, to sunny Santa Barbara. Now I'm free. And I couldn't have done it without this web site, and the people I got to know here. I'm expanding my circle, and sooner or later, you'll be inside. (I've met 250 of you as of this writing, and I'm not done yet!)
So it's a happy anniversary. Two years on E2! I must be doing something right, 'cause they went and promoted me a few months ago. I guess they want me to stick around for a while. Here then, a toast: To Everything2 and the wonderful potential it holds. May we each give it all our best, for it has the power to enable us to seek life's great potential.