They say an elephant never forgets.
The people I have loved over the years are all still with me in my head. They don’t know it. If they did, I’m sure some of them would feel uncomfortable about it, but others might not. In my head we are all still friends. We laugh about stuff and talk all the time, like echoes of them from the Nexus are still hanging around.
One of my earliest group experiences on the internet was way back in the 90’s when I ran a Onelist fan group. We broke off from a main fan group because we were making the list owner nervous with all the extra yap, mostly just silly silly silly. Silly got me branded, and next thing you know, I’m running the fastest Onelist group on the internet, keeping up with thousands of texts a week in a group of fantastically vibrant people.
I can speed read. In sixth grade I clocked at 800 words per minute, and that was just with a projector running one line at a time. I can glance at a page and remember several years later that I saw this specific quote and wind up going to that book without ever remembering the title or who wrote it. I don’t know how I do this. Oddly, my memory sucks for names and faces around me, and I’m notorious for never getting the day right. That the internet is like a salvage yard for brain backup is thrilling to me.
Speed reading coupled with this memory thing gets me in trouble. I remembered something one of my Onelist group members had texted four months earlier and jumbled it back into a conversation because it was funny, no one got it, the original texter didn’t even remember she’d said it in the first place, and being the weird little convo historian that I am, I actually found it after a couple hours searching and tried to asplain, because I thought it was still relevant and very funny. I guess not, although it could have been gold if even one other person had remembered it happening in the original context.
Things got weird after that. Another group member started playing tricks on the rest of us with her fancy new tech and then the side taking started, and next thing you know, she’s on my doorstep. When she finally went home, the carnage was done, I couldn’t stop the pictures of everything in my house and all the lies- the shock in the group was pretty wild. Had I really tried to poison her???
I didn’t know what to do with that kind of hostility, absolutely no idea why it happened, so I dropped that user name and just left. I never told anyone what she confided in me while she was at my house. I felt no compulsion to get even. I just figured if that’s what the group wanted, that’s what the group got. It hurt, yeah, but I moved on.
Repeat experience ad nauseam with different user names, was a relief to finally find out I’m aspie and possibly a little savant and maybe the problem really is me. Too bad I couldn’t have found that out before the biggest nuke yet went off 7 years ago and the months and months of sadness I spiraled through afterward because I don’t understand people. I took a break from the internet for a whole year. It was really good for me and really bad for me. Good because I figured out who I am and what I really want. Bad because I was all alone and went to some very dark places. I had no context, and it felt like trying to swim through quicksand.
A lot of people on the internet are hovering, dipping toes in and out, lurking through the dark, looking for places to fit. Some of y’all are big ol’ messes, but who isn’t? People come and go, groups come and go, we grow callouses or retreat, but one thing I have learned from 20 years of interacting on the internet- it’s just words on a screen. We choose who we want to be and who we want to love. Some days are epic fail hufda, some days are epic win booya. We choose how we play it.
I still love all the friends I had. Some of them have no idea that I’ve found them on twitter or figured out how to see their private facebook updates. They don’t know I check in because I wonder how they’re doing and I feel better when I see them getting on with their days. I’m glad they’re ok. I know some of them weren’t ok at all when things asploded. I also know that me saying hi will be awkward and maybe make things worse, because I still suck at understanding and knowing what to say. That’s why I’ve made it so easy for them to check up on me, too.
But I will never forget.