Posted by: mydarkestplaces | August 19, 2014

How FARK saved my life

When I was in college my best friend introduced me to fark.com. I was there religiously every day. I read enough headlines and articles to get familiar with what tags I really wanted to read. Very routinely a tag would pop up, “Wheaton” and I would read voraciously.

I remember thinking it odd that FARK had a tag dedicated to Wheaton College, but whatever. I’d click on the links anyway and, there was a digitized Wil Wheaton. I’m not going to lie. I had NO idea who he was. I didn’t grow up in a Star Trek household and while the entirety of my clan is plenty nerdy none of us are particularly geeky. So here I was. And I felt like he got me. I loved his posts. He was (still is) smart. Was always good for pushing me a little out of my comfort zone. Then came the fateful day he posted about Twitter. This was at some point in January of 2007. He was effusive about the great things coming out of Twitter. This made me excited. At that point the community on Twitter was so small it’d only be a matter of time before Wil Wheaton and I were best friends.

But something happened on my way to friendship with him. In fact, I’ve never actually interacted with him other than the occasional fan-girling. But for the better, I did meet a whole slew of people locally who were also early adopters of Twitter. A whole slew of people who quickly became my secret keepers and unquestioned support network. No, not every member of my innermost circle is on Twitter – and for damn sure not everyone on Twitter is a part of my inner circle – but there are several people in my innermost circle I’d never have met without Twitter. Without this support system I wouldn’t be here today.

So thanks Drew Curtis for making FARK happen, thanks FARK for being so FARKing awesome, thanks Wil Wheaton for being a big enough geek to warrant your own tag on FARK. And thanks to my Hippo for introducing me to all of the above. Without all of you I’d never have hopped on the Twitter band wagon so early and without the people I met on Twitter I wouldn’t have found the strength to be here.

Addendum 8/20/14: Because I have friends who make me think – and because I saw one of them this morning for a coffee – I’ve been thinking about this all day. The question dearest Brent posed to me was this, “If you’re thankful to them why aren’t you thankful for transistors and semiconductors? (For making the Internet a possibility)” I couldn’t come up with an answer quickly. I’m actually fairly sure I looked like a fish out of water as my mouth just opened and closed over and over again. Now, close to twenty-four hours later, I recognize this as one of the greatest gifts Brent has ever given me. Because I realized Drew Curtis, Wil Wheaton, my friends on Twitter, they may have pointed me to the path of not ceasing to exist, but I’m the one who has to decide to walk it. And obviously this is something that’s harder some times than others, but here I am.

So, you’re right Brent, I did decide to save my own life. But I wouldn’t have thought my life one worth saving without the support system that’s come from Twitter and I wouldn’t have joined Twitter without Wil Wheaton being a Twitter hipster, or Fark creating a Wil Wheaton Tag.

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Responses

  1. Your experience isn’t unique. In 1997 I had no friends. I was told by people who didn’t know me very well (but had a lot of legal clout) told me I wasn’t capable of friendship. They said I wasn’t capable of sitting in a room of people. No one had computers back then. People asked me why on earth I was getting the computer. I wanted to have email pals since 20 years previously, postal correspondence had certainly enriched my life. I had no clue what email was. I got a computer and taught myself Windows 95. I had never used a mouse before, either. Email opened up a whole new world for me. I gained confidence. I went on to finish college. You bet I sat in a lot of rooms with people with no problem whatsoever. I finished summa cum laude, went on to grad school, and finished there as well.

    It saddens me that so few people use email correspondence anymore. Facebook took over but I don’t do well there and finally, after I was bullied over and over, I got off Facebook. The Internet might help a person gain confidence, and you might use it SHORT TERM as a substitute for in person relationships, but please do not develop long-term dependency on online friendships. Overdependence on internet relationships leads to loneliness and isolation. I know teens who stop talking altogether but text all day. They develop phobias as a result.

    Be careful. While the Internet allows us to develop friendships rapidly, our hearts can be broken in an instant.

    • I agree. With all your points. And I am careful to develop relationships with (some ;) people further off line. Several of my Inner Circle are people I’ve met online, but I also know that if – right now at 3:15am EST – I were to walk up to their doors in need? I could. And they wouldn’t yell. They would just be there for me.

      And that’s something I never would have had without FARK. :)

      • Yeah, I assumed the same. In 2010, I was betrayed by about ten of my online friends whom I had assumed would always be there for me. That had a long-term negative effect on me. My life spiraled downhill from 2008 (when I was assaulted) till 2014. I was accused of crimes I never even dreamed of committing. I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me or believe me, and people were literally hiding so that they wouldn’t have to engage in conversation with me when we ran into each other on the street. I lived in extreme social isolation but I am not shy nor phobic. I even got on You-Tube and begged, “Will someone just have coffee with me?” I think that one failed to upload, but I made it known that I was dying just to be listened to, and to have real conversation. Finally, I packed my bags and left the USA to save my own life. Count on no one except yourself because people disappoint.

      • Gosh, I hate the truth in that close. I’m sorry. :(


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