For the vast majority of my time on the Internet. I hung out with two crowds -- fans and artists. At first, this would seem to be ideal as fellow fans already have the common interests necessary to build relationships, and artists can give people someone to look up to. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the fans would form their own cliques to purposely exclude me, and that 99% of artists use the fact that they created something as a counterargument to anything I write.
The following conversation has played out on nearly every board I posted on.
Jackass Artist: Look at the pretty explosion.. LOL. Look at the people running from the flood. Die, dumbasses, die!
Me: While I understand your opinion, I disagree with the view that terrorism and natural disasters are laughing matters.
Jackass Artist: 20 people said they like my work, so you're wrong! Lighten up and shut up, you freeloading (insert racial slur)! My life is better than yours, so give me donations.
Fan: LOL. I'm giving money to shut Nang up. Death to Nang.
Me: Not only is that an invalid argument, I find your attitude conceited and am personally offended by what you wrote.
Jackass Artist: SLANDER! She attacked me! Give me money as compensation!
Fan: LOL. (insert racial slur) should be blown up!
Jackass Artist: Amen.
I wish I could say this was an exaggeration.
Because of this, I have slowly but surely withdrawn from any community of which I was a part. I couldn't converse with other fans of whatever I liked at the time without being called "stupid" for having a different opinion. Rarely, there were individuals who did not fit this archetype, but overwhelmingly, the negativity not only heightened my own predisposition to paranoia, it also made them look better, which only reinforced my pessimism. If I were nice and they were mean to me; it was my fault. If I took offense, then somehow, in a twisted sense of blame the victim, I was the one who was undignified for being hurt. I may stop in to write in an occasional post in the places where, if not welcome, I am at least allowed to post, but when my content is prejudged without reading the text, I simply don't have the energy to express myself in vain.
This, though, only made me feel worse at first, because I like conversing with people and responding to topics. I channeled some of my energy into YouTube, which helped tremendously. Yet at the same time, I learned that as I was moving forward, the very people who shunned me wouldn't let me have my peace and destroyed things I worked on for weeks, months, and years. I learned there was something worse than being ignored -- to be censored and have one's work destroyed. How ironic, that the people who said that it was wrong for me to be jealous of their abilitiy, actively go and destroy my inferior product.
However, over the past year or so, I have followed the blogs that centered around the buying and selling of domain names. This practice inrtrigued me, because like most people, I thought that once a domain name was registered, it was gone and aside from gross incompetence, nothing could be done about it. Little did I know there was far more to the registration of a domain name than the mere technical aspects of DNS, the relationship between registrar and registries, and ICANN. No, there is a completely optional market out there, one in which opportunity is rich. Since I lean heavily left in my political beliefs, it amazed me that a market so pure existed -- and the people so friendly. Don't get me wrong. Domainers -- those who specialize in the acquisition and selling of domain names -- are not a universally harmonious lot. Like people, they have different agendas and different viewpoints, so it's probably patronizing of me to characterize them as "good people." In general, though, they are competitive and opinionated, but peaceful, and I have never seen any disagreement lead to death being wished on a party simply because of an opinion. There's a professionalism here that is lacking in most communities, where irreverence is rewarded with both attention and dollars, and respect for equality met with scorn.
I have to admit, there is a bit of envy as I write this. You see, I'll never be a domainer. I know this because I have no money to invest, I have no imagination when it comes to domain names, and most importantly, I have no desire to see my real name plastered across the Internet. I'm not a business person. Yet many of the more notable domainers do not simply write to their audience. Even someone who has no knowledge about a domain name or webhosting can read what has been written. They genuinely want to share knowledge with their readers while at the same time being business savvy. I've learned far more about the domain name process through these individuals than I would have otherwise. They represent an ideal that I had no idea existed -- business people who instead of tearing each other down to get ahead, share knowledge and operate on a policy of careful disclosure. To be fair, there is a perception that domainers are "cybersquatters" who "steal" domain names, although more often than not, it is the scammers, thieves, registries, registrars, and ICANN who perform actions to reinforce this stereotype than domainers themselves.
Maybe if I had actually followed domainers sooner, I wouldn't have gone through so much trouble as I did with my fellow fans and creators. Heck, maybe i would have even joined in on the fun of domaining instead of wasting my years catering to the egos of those who simply want people to praise them. But at the same time, there are opportunities with each unregistered name. Domainers can look to the future and keep a positive attitude. Why can't I?