It is strange sometimes this thing called the internet and how it has changed over the years. It is not just the internet that changes it is also site and me of course. So it would be a bit much to shove all change onto the internet itself.
Take me for instance. I was lucky enough to be an early follower. In secondary school we had computers. home computers of course, but we did get taught in basic. I used he Phillips P2000 mostly.
Those computers had those little cassette tapes, too funny to think of those now. I bought my first computer when I went to university it had no hard drive and 5 1/4 floppy drives. I was still a student when I got my first email address. Was in 1993 or 1994 (SO was even earlier than me) An impossible address I may add, but with it and with the use of internet I remember doing some of my thesis work. At that stage I had access through the Silicon Graphics to the server in another city which we used to visualize our proteins and the changes we made to them. Brilliant tool, remembered with much fondness. I was of the first generation that wrote their thesis on the computer (lovely Wordperfect 5.1 – direct on MS-DOS)
When I started my career in NZ I had an email address but we did not have other internet access at work yet. Still having email made that even when I did not have my own computer in NZ I could keep in contact with friends and family – all through their work addresses too obviously. In 1998 my parents gave me a computer and with it internet entered my life and really it has not left since then. Of course it was one of those dial in things with that distinct noise when it was connecting (I kinda do miss that).
It was in those days that I started using all kinds of now well known tools to communicate; ICQ (got me a husband that way), MSN and other chat type programs. Newsgroups etc. But also the first subject fora. Could be anything; often found on yahoo groups. I loved them. When I started sewing obviously there were those fora that I frequented and signed up to. Just typing all that makes me realise that a lot of them are still going in one form or another.
Anyway some fora you stay with for a week tops others you sort of end up staying and changing with, until you are not. In 2004 I signed up for a forum on sewing. I liked it and it had a strong down under (DU) community though it was US based. As I was still in NZ I ended up getting to know a fair few people DU that are sewing. There was also a reasonably large group of Europeans and when I moved I sort of joined that end while keeping up with the DU group as well.
We are 10 years later and over the years I noticed the number of Europeans dwindle and the DU people more and more staying on their own little always lovely and friendly area. I noticed eruptions on the discussion boards and it was always the people I liked best that ended up leaving. Some left for lifestyle reasons (read had children), but most of the oldies left, often felt pushed out by others. Some of the people I learned most from left years ago. Sure other people came and went too, but it started to feel different. I stopped posting as often and did not participate much, Sometimes it increased but overall less. I sort of had time outs only to return again.
Now I have decided to really leave the place. I have changed in a way as have they and we are no longer compatible. I feel more and more like and outsider. The site has gone from globally oriented to USA focussed and “do not dare to say anything that may not fit with US culture” attitude. Apparently slagging off foreign cultures is just banter, personal observation and anecdotes, and if you point this out; well really you are the one without a sense of humour. Now there is nothing wrong with US culture itself, it has given me some of my greatest friends and lets face it some bloody good TV-series and movies. But the inward change on the site has made me feel terribly unwelcome and that is a feeling that has grown over the last say 36 months and now I have said enough is enough for me. I have decided that I have outgrown the place. It really feels as the right descision for me. Weirdly enough there is a sense of relief. I finally did do what I had wanted to do for some time, but the time had not felt right and/or I had been trying to ignore a feeling and hoping things would get better.
So I decide to leave and go and delete my account, only to find that this is not possible. Ah no wonder that this hotel california site has more than 100,000 members “you can check out any time you like, but can never leave” immediately came to mind. I deleted all shortcuts, left a message on my profile page as to why I had left and that was that. Still it feels like abandoning a community where for a long time you felt at home and it feels weird that it no longer is. And with the internet it is not as with moving house. It is still there still just a few letters away. It takes some level of certainty not to go and find the things again. For so long it was part of my normal internet round and I need to change my routes again. But you know what? Changing a route, even on the internet, opens you up to all kind of new chances and encounters.
Perhaps even outside of the internet. Instead of reading about sewing do some more, or alternatively have some time for my blog again! 🙂