Today is the fourth anniversary of my first comment on Open Salon (on a hysterical post by Tequila and Donuts).
I strongly doubt there'll be a fifth.
That has much to do with the long-term technical issues, of course, and the real possibility that OS will disappear, but mostly it's about absent friends.
The first on my favourites list was Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield, probably the kindest person I ever encountered here. It was he who taught me the ropes, including the politesse that began with asking before adding someone. That's a habit I follow to this day, and as a result, everyone is on my list voluntarily.
But Monte's gone, and so are most of the others I counted on -- JK, Cat, LC, Bill, Cartouche, Cappy, Freaky, Catamite, Pro, Celt, Blue, Buffy, Scarlett, Persephone, to name but a few. Others, while still maintaining a token OS presence, don't come around much any more, or not, at least, to this page.
Perhaps that's to be expected. Things change; OS is not immune, and neither am I, to the point where I find myself more and more adrift.
I now know, to my dismay, what the original Beta members felt like after the floodgates were opened in the summer of '08, a kind of "what happened here?" moment.
It's not that I pine for the "good old days" of OS -- you know, when everything was perfect -- any more than I lament those of my former profession. I'm glad I did both and glad that both survive, albeit among the walking wounded in today's economic realities.
Still, it's a little hard to take. While my occasional meanderings were never all that popular, there was a time when I'd be disappointed if fewer than, say, twenty people commented. The last post had one person show up.
That isn't a complaint, but an observation.
I know many got fed up and hived off to spinoff sites and blogs. I've checked out most of those, and while they're admirable and well-administered, I don't seem fit there.
Perhaps it's my resistance to soi-disant social media like Facebook and Twitter, which I refuse to join, but which I recognise are the building blocks by which people now communicate and organise.
I never did play well with the other kids, but OS was different, more anarchic or, perversely, more inclusive, a place where I could drop the hard-nosed, cranky and impatient persona I'd spent my entire adult life cultivating and become a more or less decent human being -- and not coincidentally, a much better writer.
I guess that's about it. Got one more thing to do for sure -- a repost, on Christmas Eve. Assuming anyone comes around, those who haven't read it will maybe like it; those who have read it before will, I hope, be taken back to the day when an OS newbie, hesitatingly and with great trepidation, hit "publish" for the first time.
To absent friends: Thank you. Ave Atque Vale.