So, I've been getting a goodly amount of e-mails lately ("goodly" here being a term hilariously relative to the normal amount of non-work e-mails I generally get, which, excepting a steady stream of Very Useful Linkedin endorsements, approaches zero most days). E-mails from Hubski. To the tune of, "Hey, Fuffle, what the hell?" And it's not an unfair question. What the hell, Fuffle. So here's a quick explanation to those who were asking, and then, because I don't like submitting posts without some point greater than my own self-affirmation, a stumbling attempt at tying my absence and subsequent return to a more highfalutin point about community-mindedness in a post-communal world.
So first off, the obligatory and very boring litany of apologies and excuses. Sorry I've been gone, please don't take it as a referendum on this site or the people who make it what it is. I have my reasons for not having been present and accounted for; none of them have anything to do with Hubski or my interactions therein. All of them are incredibly banal. Without getting into gory detail, they include a mix of the following: New job responsibilities that eat up free time; a shift in spousal work schedules that allows for less "me" time; a push to finish personal projects before twins come; and, absurdly, an architectural layout that, in conjunction with my poor sense of Feng Shui (or would that be just no sense of Feng Shui? Can you have a bad sense of Feng Shui?) makes domestic computer access exceedingly difficult. See? Don't you wish you hadn't wasted time reading that list? To those who were smart/lazy enough not to: sorry, stuff happened, I got caught up in it, and now, hopefully, I'll be more present in days to come.
So why waste time writing such a useless paragraph? Why not just quietly re-enter the fold, or else wander further away from it? Wouldn't that be easier? Whelp, as I've learned in the last couple months, no, it wouldn't.
All too often, the term "online community" is self-negating. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, what have you- sure, you can throw a brick (or whatever the digital analog to a brick is- brixel?) online and find some loose approximation of community. Group of individuals congregated around a central interest/philosophy/kink, whatever. Repeat users, in-jokes, political trends, the whole nine. And people within those forums, they're happy to tell you about how this is the new social marketplace, the new polis, this is where everybody is now while you're bowling alone. But here's the thing: Reddit is no more a community than, say, the dumpster behind your local Whole Foods (unless you're a freegan, and then I guess Reddit is much less so). Nobody cares when you leave. Nobody corresponds with you outside of that system. Many people don't remember interacting with you. Shockingly few people hold you accountable for what you do within said communities, or more relevant to this post, when you apparently abandon the same. So no, Reddit isn't a community. Neither is Pinterest. To the best of my knowledge (and here I'm willing to grant a fair amount of confirmation bias given that I'm no longer young or relevant by any young, relevant accounts), neither is Facebook, which is ostensibly all about keeping in touch with real friends. I keep in touch with more friends via postcards these days than I do over Facebook, and to better result. Last time I checked Facebook (last week (okay, yesterday (ahem, this morning))), I had more targeted ads in my timeline than posts from people I knew. And of the actual human posts, I cared about exactly two of those people- the rest were passing acquaintances talking about their breakfasts (and, despite prevailing opinion, those breakfasts didn't look that amazing). I, in turn, don't really post to Facebook, and nobody on Facebook has ever asked where I've been.
So yeah, more and more people are eschewing their meatspace communities for these online communities, and fewer and fewer of these online communities can deliver the most fundamental values of true communalism. Which is why I dug around for Hubski, and why I was so happy when I found it, and, ironically enough, why I was so ashamed when Hubski started needling me via e-mail with questions about my disappearance. Congrats, you meet all the criteria for community. Common interests? Check. Interactions that assume personhood? Yep. A lasting concern for contributors that follows said contributors, some might say hounds them, far outside the confines of the Hubski interface? Well goddamn. Yeah. That's what I signed up for, and that's what I got. Which puts the pressure on me, as a member of the community, to respond in kind and act like I'm part of the goddamn solution.
So, to recap: 1) sorry. 2) I'll try to be better in the future, because I really like this place. 3) Impressive job, Hubski.
Thanks to thenewgreen, NewMonya, flagamuffin for shaming me into responding, and the various curators of the book club for keeping me in the loop despite never contributing. Will try to do better in the future.