Monday, August 17, 2009

An Inspired Community


I am a tech guy.

Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I learned that I could sit alone in my room and have endless hours of entertainment with a personal computer (ahem - clarification: using the PC to write programs and build things, and not necessarily porn). If left to my own devices, I would fritter away my hours in front of a machine and allow the real world to happen somewhere outside my door.

But, ever since I was living up to grasshopper standards, I used this thing to edge closer to a sense of community with other like-minded sociopaths. When I was 10, I used my Vic20 to dial into CompuServe and was astounded at the raw information streaming at 300 baud. My imagination roiled: everything, accessible and available, here, from this stupid little device. It wasn't long after that I discovered the BBS (Bulletin Board System) community with ham-radio-like-passionate-people who setup PC's that could be dialed into. It was a tediously dry experience - nothing like the 'Net today: no graphics, just text, and leaving messages for the next person to login. It was slow, and conversations took days, weeks, instead of seconds. Even still, when I opened my own BBS, I was striving towards a sense of belonging and community. The PC was a portal to others.

I don't think it's a far stretch to imagine the Internet as a social place: isolated as we might seem to be, the Internet brings our ideas and selves closer in an imaginary space, whether or not it's okcupid, World of Warcraft, FetLife, or SecondLife, the Internet is a private (even sometimes anonymous) media that inspires closeness, interrelationships, and compassion. Regardless of our initial impressions, the Internet inspires community.

And I am proud of this community. Enabled by the 'Net, the poly community as it stretches from us, to you - our readers - to the folks who come to our monthly meetings, or to other poly meetings we attend, or out to others in LoveTribe, or to FetLife, or to PolyWeekly, and out and out from there. Even out to Oprah and Newsweek. I'm proud of those connections. Closer to me, I'm proud of the small things: knowing glances, inside jokes, friendships, brief chatter and talk of things we know and care about, the excitement and anxiety of NRE, the dreadful spiritual collapse of losing a loved partner, and the embrace of a kind hug when meeting others time and time again.

Poly, I feel, whether digital or analog, whether synchronous or asynchronous, whether remotely or right next door, inspires community. It should always bring, inspire, reinforce, and promote community.

Even as I'm writing a bunch of illuminated pixels on a digital canvas, I'm connected to a bigger and broader idea, and a bigger and broader community. As a reclusive geeky tech guy, it's what I've longed to have all of my life.

s1m0n
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