No, Seriously Folks -- Community

I've been following the posts and comments at Shakesville's temporary old/new platform for the past four days now.

I was directed to view Shakesville (may it emerge in Splendor again SOON) many months ago by a friend whose intellect I greatly admire, and whose ethics I trust. I had read/sampled/surveyed many blogs, but something about Shakesville (at that time, Shakespeare's Sister) captured me. I lurked for a long time before commenting.

Here's what I found that kept me coming back to that blog:

  1. Smart people (bloggers and commenters alike) who did things like read books, think about things, write/talk about things, watch film and television and surf the web with some kind of consciousness about how they think the things they were taking in might affect themselves and others.
  2. People who possessed the courage of their own convictions, and spoke forthrightly about them, but who were also willing to be challenged by virtually anyone who would engage in intelligent dialogue about those convictions, even if the opinions presented were contrary to the poster's.
  3. And, perhaps most importantly -- Melissa McEwen, who, in my mind, "holds the space" that is Shakesville, allowing other wonderful bloggers to speak and express and convey, while bringing her own unique intelligence, humor, craft, and art to her posts. I've read a lot of comments at Shakesville, and have witnessed Melissa stepping in to confront even those who might be considered "allies" if she thought their logic fallacious or their expressions in violation of the blog's stated terms -- I've witnessed her rising to the defense of people whose stated opinions don't agree with her own. I call that equanimity.
All of this brings up all sorts of questions for me.

How is it that I can feel a certain void in my life because my usual mode of connection with posters/commenters -- people that I have never met, and may never meet face-to-face -- has been shifted?

What role does this one woman play in creating a point of gravity to which so many intelligent, witty, and delightful people (imo) have been drawn?

What responsibility, if any, do I have in supporting the community that has so supported me, by feeding and nurturing me daily with their thoughts, expressions, arguments, dialogues, and discussions?

It is strange, and exhilarating, to me, that I somehow "know" people that I do not know. That somehow, we are connecting through the mathematics of electronic communication, and that these questions are stimulated in my brain. I can imagine the 1s and 0s of my computer thinking "Thank You! Did you finally figure out what we're really good for? Took you long enough! -- Asshat!"

I said in a previous post "Here's to the asshats! (OK, maybe not so much.)"

I'm re-thinking that. In truth, I'm not sure I would have come to full awareness of how much Shakesville had become an extension of my concept of community, if this DOS attack had not been perpetrated.

So now, I'll say to the asshat perpetrator(s), in total sincerity: Thank you.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to understand my privilege. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know what I had gained from, by providing me with its absence.

See, I told you I would alternate between wild rant and cross-transferent empathy.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:46 PM  


Gender Blank said... June 26, 2007 at 8:11 AM  

There is something beautiful about finding a community in which you feel you are nourished in some way. I am thankful for the Internet's ability to allow such a community to grow where geography would otherwise prevent it.

I'd like to build a real-life community like Shakesville and live among smart, funny, courageous people who encourage and challenge me on a daily basis.

Phydeaux Speaks said... June 26, 2007 at 11:14 AM  

PD, your realization just points out the ridiculousness of the DOS attack. In the attempt to silence the voices with which the attacker (presumably) disagrees, said attacker has merely strengthened our community. Instead of 'merely' meeting up at Maison Shakes, we are engaging all through our network of blogs (a phenomenon that I'm sure will continue once our 'home base' reopens). And so, I join you in thanking the asshat(s) - while at the same time pitying and detesting them.

GB, as I said to you over at my place, there's that nearby valley just waiting to be taken over....

Melissa McEwan said... July 2, 2007 at 8:37 AM  

Thank you for this beautiful post, TPD. (hug)

You're far too kind about me, though. I'm just a hard worker, really, which is pretty darn boring.

PortlyDyke said... July 2, 2007 at 11:35 PM  

Hi Liss--

I disagree -- I do not think I was "far too kind" -- you are a brave soul, a spunky bumpkin, and a community builder. Accept it. If you take the shit for that, you might as well also take the kudos, m'love.

Oh, I can see those midwest roots showing through . . . . "I'm just a hard worker . . . " (which is true, I'm sure, but I think you're far more than that).

Personally, I need and want your voice, and your integrity. They give me hope and support.

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