Since I started writing my new vampire novel, nostalgia has been kicking my ass. I chose to set it in the late 90s for a couple of reasons, but one was certainly because it was the last time I can remember feeling optimism. Genuine optimism, rather than a series of half-sighs of relief at surviving the most recent emergency, while shoring up defenses against the next one. While my life then was far from perfect, it was better than it currently is, and if there was ever a time when I would go back and warn myself, it would be that one.
One of the things that I’m most nostalgic for is fan communities. The breaking of blogging sites like livejournal was when I lost my footing. For the first time, there was no platform that everyone was moving to. There were no safe communities. Internet economics dictated traffic at all costs, and what was born in the wake of this move was a brutality that valued community and safety very lightly. Toughen up. Get a thicker skin.
Civility sounds quaint. Worse, it sounds constrictive, and censorial. Community sounds nebulous, and insubstantial. There are communities, no doubt, but platforms like Twitter are designed to vivisect the private, the personal, and under constant threat of naked exposure, the close-knit comms of the past wither.
No paradise lost, true. The gang was all there. Trolls, gatekeepers, Big Name Fans, and nutbars. They coexisted with the tools to mitigate the damage they could cause, and more importantly, an understanding among the community that toxic behaviour needed to be controlled, for the good of the majority. It often went awry, and when it did, it wasn’t blamed on thin-skinned reactionaries. It was blamed on drama and flame wars. The participants and their bad behaviour were observed to destroy the healthy community.
But I’m woolgathering. I might as well be sitting in a rocking chair, trying to trip the young’uns with my cane. My point, I suppose, is that just recently I’ve been trying to assemble a one-step-removed community. Youtubers, podcasters, and the like who carry a sort of supportive optimism with them. Hence my list of youtubers there on the right side of this here blog. They’re people whose personalities, voices, and insights have helped me through a lot of long nights.
Find your people, and when you do, cherish them.