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The Existential Compost

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1st September 2013

Poignant stuff that nobody will read. @ 10:53

Hello children. Are you sitting comfortably? Well then I’ll begin.



A long time ago, a generous man made this wonderful wonderland. It had libraries, shops, nightclubs, houses, communities, social clubs, town halls and other amenities. It was a glorious place and he invited all the people into the wonderland.





At first the people made use of the wonderful places. They were creative. They were patient. They looked about and learnt new things about the world around them. They met new and interesting people that they would not normally have met in any other situation because they had the same interests, they cared about their issues or they just happened to laugh at the same things. The people forged communities, shared ideas and grew. Intellectually. Emotionally. Bonded. Great friendships rose. Great alliances were forged. The people were happy.



The people made new places in the wonderland. They made museums dedicated to their lives, their interests, their collections. They made support centres for those who suffered maladies. They came together as one and assisted each other. Became involved with each other. The wonderland flourished.



Then one day one of the people  in the wonderland, whose name was Mark, said “Come. Come to this amazing place I have built. It is all those things you have been enjoying. It will be a safe place from all those people you don’t know. You can have a 24/7 party with all your friends. All the people you know. Your family. Friends from school. People you know. People you meet outside the wonderland. You can homogenise your beliefs, praise each other for achievements, promote yourself and play. Forget all the other places you have built. Forget all those other places that have been built for you. When you enter the wonderland, come here and go nowhere else.”



And the people thought this was good.



The people who had flocked to the wonderland entered into Mark’s place in droves. To begin with they stayed momentarily and still ventured outside back into the wonderland returning to Mark’s place to share with the people therein what they had found. The people felt safe there. So safe they laid out their personal possessions, information and feelings for all to see. It was like the wonderland, but in one place. Crowded but with a feeling of security because, after all, only people they knew were present.



 



And the people thought this was good.



 



Gradually, the places, communities and complexes outside of Mark’s place began to crumble from lack of use. Some enterprising people tried to move the contents of these places into Mark’s place but somehow they were never the same.



 



But it was ok because the people felt safe as they were surrounded by their friends, family and people they knew.



 



And the people were indifferent.



 



Great edifices crumbled. The magical wonderland became a landscape of ghost towns and forgotten people but Mark’s place grew. It grew and grew. Its blue and white name became synonymous with the wonderland. Whenever people said they were going to the wonderland what they meant was they were going to Mark’s place.



 



And the people were indifferent.



 



Creativity dropped. Sure, a few people still created things but the majority of them were wise marketing people hoping to make a name for themselves. Creativity was not necessary in Mark’s place. It was provided for the people that used it.



Communities still formed. But not in the same way. People were not as trusting or as open and so arguments and upset were aplenty.



People still shared problems. But not in the same way. People were not as trusting or felt that they couldn’t share things with their closest friends and family watching on.



And the people were indifferent.



And that is the way it still is today. The wonderland is still there, but it is now dominated by the huge edifice that is Mark’s place. Sure, some people still believe that it isn’t that way. But they are mistaken. Mark’s place will continue to grow with content but not provide the same variation and creativity that the wonderland once provided. Because the people feel safe. They are no longer bold enough nor trusting to go forth and mingle with strangers. Mark’s place has taught them that. People you don’t know are dangerous.




TL;DR? Go here and then here where you will be safely back in Mark’s place.



 



=====



 



Foot note: One of those great places that is crumbling is LJ. But as long as people are creative and interactive then it should not die.



On Friday I met someone I first met on LJ nearly 10 years ago, think4yrself. During my time on LJ I have met many people who, without LJ, I would never have known.



Over the years I have met:


zoefruitcake, stephmog, poggs, _hedgewytch_, aladdin_sane, billzy, christina43, cujosmurf, dr98emd,storm1jet2,starsnsammiches, georgina_again, kneads, louenn,nickelcat, rockpile_99, scattydove,stainsteelrat, noting_nothing

With the exception of rockpile_99 and georgina_again (I met them both when I worked in Pontefract, they already had LJs) all of those people are people that, without LJ, I would never have met. The majority of them I've tried to keep in touch with. Indeed, the lovely zoefruitcake is my girlfriend and together we continue to share adventures. But crucially I have noticed that since the waning of LJ's popularity and the growth of other social media platforms, I have not met any new people. Sure I've met people in real life that I work with or meet in my daily duties but not complete strangers. Why is that? For one, Facebook, Twitter and the like don't really allow you to interact beyond your existing social circle.

For example, I couldn't nip onto facebook and interact with a random person without them getting all offended, suspicious or defensive. Sure Livejournal is like that in places too, but it never used to be. It was a friendly place. Somewhere to meet other like minded people. Now. It is a ghost town with the odd bit of tumble weed.

Today I did an experiment, I looked at how many users were in the UK that had posted in the last 3 days. The results brought up at least 2000 active UK accounts. I opened the first ten accounts and nearly all of them were friends only. Excluding me from their content immediately.

When did we become so protective? When did we forget about filters? Did we become shy? Scared of interaction with strangers? Am I a stranger? Maybe I am. For all you know I could be a woman. Or I could be a psychopath intent of lulling you into a false sense of security so that I can eat your children when you least expect it.

Therefore, I will now remove the friends only bit of my LJ security. I am no longer friends only. I was only friends only because I posted personal things. They will remain friends only. But I will try to post more often unfiltered. After all, I cross post unfiltered to Blogger, Wordpress and dreamwidth anyway. Bring your friends. Do the same. Open your hearts. Revive the once great edifice that was LJ . Add me. Get them to add me. Read about my life. Let me read about yours. Share this entry, share similar entries. Promote this post. Blogging is so much more interpersonal that a couple of pictures of cute kittens and an artistic picture of your lunch.

Remember that world? When things were interesting? When your first port of call was LJ and not Facebook?

The world only stopped being interesting because you stopped making it interesting. Interact. Commune. Stop being insular, stop being incestuous, broaden your horizons, reach out to new people, commune. Touch. Influence. Be a part of people's lives and let them be a part of yours.
 
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Comments

 
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From:spiderbabyx
Date:1st September 2013 13:33 (UTC)
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YES! I love LJ and want it to come back! If you're ever in the midwest US we should totally meet up. :-)
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From:stegzy
Date:1st September 2013 14:27 (UTC)
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There are plans afoot. Long term plans mind. I already have a route map made up for a possible "Drive across America" tour. All I need now though is a nice win on the lottery ;-)
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From:venta
Date:2nd September 2013 10:59 (UTC)
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Come back? It hasn't gone away! Sure it's quieter... but if everyone goes elsewhere until LJ perks back up, it never will. Post stuff! Comment!

I'm still not on Facebook, still here on LJ, howling into the void...
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From:spiderbabyx
Date:2nd September 2013 12:37 (UTC)
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Oh, I'm still here. I just wish "old school" LJ would come back. LOL.
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From:venta
Date:2nd September 2013 12:38 (UTC)
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Yeah, that's a fair point :)
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From:thepheenixeyri
Date:1st September 2013 19:23 (UTC)
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DW is our first port of call-then it is twitter. LJ has become inaccessible for us. We are also...freer on DW with what we are (A functional multiple) because there is no one to judge us we know there. Some of those who were to find this out would not like it-not to mention we fear the loss of the job if the co-workers were to find this out.

It is the reasons we are somewhat friends only (even on DW) and many of us have personals to which we post.

~~Kaelaren~~ (QWho is not the main, but is close enogh to co-main that it may not mater.)
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From:stegzy
Date:1st September 2013 20:27 (UTC)
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LJ is poorly and antiquated by other journaling/blogging site standards but it is still robust. I suspect lack of investment on the current owners behalf for some of LJs technical failings. The same as most things in society lately, in that as soon as people start making money from something, inward investment starts to suffer.

I understand the need for secrecy with some matters. I too have some deep dark secrets I want to share with people and in the past I would have done so via the medium of LJ. Indeed, I do have a careful system of filters in place to stop unwanted prying eyes on the more sensitive material. Both LJ and DW are good platforms for that kind of thing (though my FBase of DW is not as wide as that of LJ which is why DW is just a cross posty place when I remember to cross post). My Wordpress blogs are more showcases for creativity and extended facebook posts than anything else.

The point of my post though is to say that there was a time when LJ was an open playground where people interacted and shared experiences. Developed trusts and emotional attachments. These days it is difficult to see who of those you are not already friends with, are active or of similar mindset due to inactivity because of friends locking and apathy.
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From:billzy
Date:2nd September 2013 08:40 (UTC)
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wooo mention

Yes, maybe this should be first port of call...
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From:stegzy
Date:5th September 2013 06:56 (UTC)
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Yes....maybe it should....
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From:fox_bard
Date:2nd September 2013 12:36 (UTC)
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I'm not on Facebook. But I lurk here on LJ more than I write. Seems there was a time I just wanted to write my books and stop posting 8 times a day on LJ. Now I'm writing my books and I beat myself up for not writing a single post in a month on LJ.

I'm not so good at that balance thing sometimes.
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From:stegzy
Date:5th September 2013 06:57 (UTC)
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I too lurk more than post. I need to flip it round somehow.
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From:zoefruitcake
Date:2nd September 2013 13:25 (UTC)
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there are a couple more of my friends on here that you have met too, like _hedgewytch_, judithsquirrel, louis_burdett, moobub, stressedwillow and boobear1971
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From:stegzy
Date:5th September 2013 06:58 (UTC)
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Oh yeah...
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From:dreamitdoit
Date:2nd September 2013 22:59 (UTC)
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I only have my LJ locked because I write about health and people and some are opinions that shouldn't be known to certain people, ha. I've been on LJ since 2003 and met several people off here, I think it's great and I'll never leave. Have to be meeting you & the missus one day! :)
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From:stegzy
Date:5th September 2013 07:01 (UTC)
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I only had mine locked down because I got worried about prying eyes. Then I realised that I could simply put people on filters and leave the non-personal/non-identifiable stuff for public posts, You know, like memes, general gobshitery and goofing about.

And yes, you will have to be meeting me and zoefruitcake especially as you're practically in the neighbouring county.
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From:think4yrself
Date:3rd September 2013 09:20 (UTC)
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Hear! Hear! Also, can't believe it took us 10 years to meet face-to-face!
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From:stegzy
Date:5th September 2013 07:02 (UTC)
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Don't let it be another 10 years!
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From:think4yrself
Date:10th September 2013 08:28 (UTC)
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No!

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