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As a lurker, thank you, MetaFilter, for so much. May 20, 2014 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I've lurked here since at least 2011. If the following sounds like hyperbole, it's not: MetaFilter has been a huge, positive, and transforming part of my life. I need to say something now or never. I'll try to keep the emotionality at a minimum. No promises, though, so forgive me in advance.

I wanted this to be a thread where I could share some of the hundreds of links I've bookmarked since 2011, but as luck would have it, I can't find the notebook or the collection of print paper where I wrote down the thread links after deleting them from my phone. I still have the notebook, of course, but it was packed away somewhere. The day I find it will be a very happy day for sure.

I've lurked here for a very long time. For a long time, I couldn't see myself joining the site or having anything to contribute, despite how welcoming and community-oriented you guys are in general. Even when I felt most welcome, I wouldn't have known what to say. But I can say that:

When I lived as a disabled adult in poverty surrounded by an abusive family, I found the relevant threads, and you were there, and it was almost impossible, but I finally ended the abusive dependency, later to find my own place. (Disability and poverty make these decisions harder.)

When I was homeless, I checked MetaFilter.com every couple of hours. Your collective empathy and sanity on the the Blue was reassuring, distracting, and incredibly different from any dynamic I'd encountered before on the internet. I remember reading the comments on an old Amanda Knox thread before reading the link (again, while homeless, on my phone) and being momentarily horrified... until I read further and I realized that most of you were basically on my side and hers, arguing for just trials and for compassion. I was reassured: "That's the MetaFilter I know."

I remember so many wonderfully thoughtful threads on poverty and abuse and privilege, and so many threads that resonated with me deeply on hundreds of subjects. Science threads and topics full of skepticism are one. Likewise, I also followed politics, astronomy, physics, psychology, Occupy, tech news, human rights issues in general, and trivia that I found surprisingly worthwhile and charming. There's so, so much else that I'm leaving out. I can hardly scratch the surface in one post.

I remember becoming aware of my own communication problems and being upset at knowing that I can't even communicate decently online, much less join the likes of you folk. I remember the long process of self-questioning and self-censoring while I learned how to use language properly to accurately communicate my thoughts. I'm still learning. Lurking on AskMe has also changed the way I think, has changed my internal dialogue, for the better.

If I could find that notebook, I'd have hundreds of threads to pore over even to narrow in on just a few to share. Don't underestimate the value of compassion and down-to-earth sanity while a person's life is full of upheaval and the internet otherwise is only sporadically helpful. Your community here was, and is, a sanity meter for me. I only wish I'd discovered you sooner, even if I wouldn't have had much to add.

The better parts of my life involved OWL Magazine at age seven, followed by my own subscription to Skeptical Inquirer at age ten, and then a habit of reading posts on StraightDope, Science, Scientific American, and so forth. I remember thinking, while homeless, that no matter where I might be elsewhere in the Metaverse, no matter what had happened, my past dictates that I'd probably still end up on MetaFilter.

Thanks for being there for everything. I hope that doesn't sound too saccharine. Thank you for existing. Thank you to everyone from 2011 onwards who posted frequently; you might never know it, but those threads were life-saving and helpful.

I know for sure that my life could have ended up very differently, in very bad directions. I'd lost my moral compass sometime before 2010. I could have died from my barbiturate habit (meant for sleep, but I've kicked the habit, and these days, I sleep well).

It's huge. THANK YOU. You never know how much of a positive difference you might make in the life of a lurker. I may not know any of you, but I feel a great debt of gratitude toward you.

Please forgive all of the emotionality and straightforwardness here. Just this one time in this one post, OK? I'm not normally like this. But it had to be said, and it's meant.
posted by quiet earth to MetaFilter-Related at 5:37 PM (40 comments total) 108 users marked this as a favorite

Helping someone sleep well should never be underestimated and I'm so happy we've been able to be useful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:39 PM on May 20 [12 favorites]


Ditto. Really glad the site was there for you when you needed it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:42 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Great job, everyone!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:53 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Thanks for sharing. This place is amazing and has helped me quite a bit too... Very profoundly. In many ways. Forever.
posted by aydeejones at 6:20 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


> Please forgive all of the emotionality and straightforwardness here. Just this one time in this one post, OK? I'm not normally like this.

It seems like a might fine way to be. Admittedly, we can't all be this way with everybody all the time, but there's really nothing to forgive. I'm glad you survived, glad you're doing better, and hope you keep moving onward and upward. And I honestly think that making a post like this, being that open, is pretty brave.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:18 PM on May 20 [23 favorites]


Welcome!
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:35 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Good sleep is a wonderful thing. I'm glad you're doing better and you'll always be welcome.
posted by arcticseal at 7:59 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


What a nice post. I feel better for having read it!
posted by Mhead at 8:23 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]


I share your feelings. This site has saved my life and it has also just been a great place to geek around and have fun and learn cool stuff. It's like a great partner in that way: here for the tough stuff and the fun stuff, too. I'm glad you're here and that we're all here together. Thanks for this post.
posted by sockermom at 8:33 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Yeah, please don't feel badly for this; it's absolutely lovely and knowing that you've helped someone else, even if only tangentially by being part of the same community, feels really good. Please don't underestimate how much you expressing that will mean to a lot of us.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:33 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Another lurker here, since at least 2006. Just wanted to chime in that I share the same sentiments, though I've not been through the same hardships that OP has. But effluent thanks for Metafilter's existence nonetheless. Was crushed when I saw the thread about the downsizing, felt like a part of my life was yanked sideways for a moment. Would love to give back to the community in some way. Still gearing up the courage to do an FPP, maybe one day.
posted by satoshi at 9:35 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]


... I think I meant to say effusive thanks. One day I'll make a post with no errors. One day. But that is not this day.
posted by satoshi at 9:54 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


I want to also say I share the same sentiments about MetaFilter. I lurked for many years before finally joining, and upon joining learned that I wasn't nearly the polished person I thought I was.

But through trial and error and some schooling both from the mod staff and the community at large, I feel I have grown a lot. Plus simply participating in MetaFilter has helped shape my worldview and my ability to relate to people online and off.

This community is an amazing place -- a welcoming-but-gently-teaching group of witty, curious, interested, delightful, kind (but not too kind) souls who will take anyone with an open heart and mind who is interested in being involved and collectively help to shape them into a better version of themselves. Even better than they realized they could be.

I have nothing but appreciation for MetaFilter and the MeFite community, and I loved reading this post. It brought laughter and tears and more than a bit of schmoopy welling up within me as I read it.

I have not lived a life as difficult as the OP, but MF has pulled us both toward being better people. I think it does that for a lot of members (and probably lurkers) whether they realize it or not. I will never be able to express my admiration and gratitude fully, as that would involve baking cakes and buying drinks for many thousands of people.

But yeah, quiet earth, I'm right there with you. This place is amazing, and I can't imagine life without it.
posted by hippybear at 10:23 PM on May 20 [11 favorites]


I'm so glad that you've found a safe place where you can have a good night's sleep.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:12 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Nice use of Metatalk, quiet earth. Most of us like a good schmoop. Nice username too. I loved that movie.

Unlike hippybear, I joined Metafilter the first day I found it. But like him, I too learned upon joining "that I wasn't nearly the polished person I thought I was". There were/are people on metafilter who shine with their polished humanity and wisdom. I am hoping that, now after six years, some of it has rubbed off on me.

Glad you are sleeping better. Join us in the commentary box when you feel like it.
posted by Kerasia at 12:34 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I'm really glad to hear you're in a better place now. It's a special place and the fact that you can be so open here is proof of that. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and be well.
posted by billiebee at 5:15 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I think many of us lurked before finally leaping: I know I did, for 4-5 years before I coughed up my $5 and joined. Nothing wrong with lurking! And to be honest, I think it actually does a lot of good: as you say, we still learn a lot on a wide variety of subjects, plus by the time we do join, we've learned the rules of the Metafilter road and what this place considers mature & acceptable behavior.

It's wonderful that you're doing so well, and I hope your life continues to improve!
posted by easily confused at 5:26 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


it's frustrating, because i seem to remain unpolished no matter how much polish i drink.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:04 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


We do our best. Glad we could help.
posted by jonmc at 6:17 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I've found that every individual, no matter how polished or just downright raw makes MetaFilter a better community. We learn. We make mistakes, and most of the time, we learn from them. Those people not interested in learning or growing or making mistakes tend to weed themselves out. Glad to see you here quiet earth.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:21 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


satoshi - I was full of angst about my first FPP, but not only did I get 27 comments, but some people actually favourited it. Give it a try, you might be surprised at how well received it is.
posted by arcticseal at 7:40 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


When I first joined I was pretty intimidated by the polish and wisdom I saw on MetaFilter, but I figured that it was also a pretty humane place, and these humans forgive. To sum up the courage to actually participate, I came up with these three lines that I included in my profile, that I think gave me permission to finally try and participate.

Look, I'm just warning you up front, I make mistakes.

If you're going to participate, you're going to make mistakes. The greater mistake would be to not participate.

Have You Shown You're Humanity Today? ®


I've changed what's included in my profile now and then, but I've kept those three lines to remind myself that it's okay to be a bit unpolished, and that the most human thing we can ever do is forgive each other and ourselves. I still don't participate a lot (100 posts in 10 years), but I also don't let my fear about not always meeting the gold standard that MetaFilter represents stop me anymore.
posted by Toekneesan at 8:33 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


Thank you for sharing your story.
posted by radioamy at 8:44 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Quonsar Smockpants:

My friend Wisnieski vanished mysteriously shortly after spilling a bottle of polish remover on himself.
posted by Mister_A at 8:48 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I loaned a friend my only copy of How To Vanish Forever and I will never see him (and my book) ever again.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:57 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Mostly I read good books to get to sleep.
I read books because the light of a Kindle is almost as chaotic as television.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:37 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


((hugs)) if you want them, quiet earth.

Glad your life has improved.
posted by Michele in California at 11:39 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Positive mind atoms to you, quiet earth.

PS Are you named after that awesome end of the world movie from Australia? Please say yes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:04 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting, quiet earth. Thank you for reminding us that pebbles thrown into our little pond cause ripples that propagate beyond our imagined boundaries. Stay with us. Sweet dreams to you.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 5:46 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Thank you so much for this post, quiet earth. I'm so glad you're doing better and wish you all the best.

(I tend to try and act like a hardass but am secretly an enormous sap who loves earnestness and schmoop. Right now I'm getting all weepy and feel like giving everyone (potentially awkward) hugs.)

Sincerely,
Another Inveterate Lurker.
posted by junques at 8:09 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I'm happy you're here, and even happier to know that you're doing well. All the best to you!
posted by scody at 8:18 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


There are some really awesome people here. I don't know what I'd do without mefi. I'm really glad and relieved to hear that you're doing better. Thanks for posting.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:06 AM on May 22


What a wonderful gift you have given by writing this. I am glad for you.
posted by SyraCarol at 3:52 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Thank you for posting this, and I'm happy for you that you're doing better! I, too, have been a lurker, but since around 2000. I never considered joining because I was too shy to contribute and I feared that if I ever slipped into a manic phase, I'd dump all over the place and generally make an embarrassment of myself. But I've come to terms with who I am and I'm learning to take risks and share things about myself with others. Thanks, quiet earth, for setting a fine example in this thread. This place is wonderful and I've reaped so many rewards without being a member. I'm looking forward to spending different time here now.

And the quiet earth movie is so good! One of my favorites!
posted by danabanana at 5:37 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Yet another person popping up briefly from comfy quiet lurkdom to say three cheers for Metafilter! I've been reading for years without an account and finally pulled the trigger a few days ago. The first thing I read after joining was Matthowie's announcement. Bittersweet timing! Thanks for posting, quiet earth. I'm so glad you're in a better place.
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:51 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


This comment by ColdChef pushed me over the edge from four years of hours a day lurking to joining up. Even lurking I found this becoming true for me, and all the more now.
You know you're a mefite if... you notice that in tiny little ways, you've changed in the past few years. Your world has changed. You're listening to music that is made by people you know, and these people you know, you've never really met, but you know them. You know? And you count them as friends. You refer to them by username or real name or you just say, "This girl I know..." without saying how exactly it is that you know her. And you know about places you've never been--never wanted to go, but now you do because you have friends there. And these friends, these friends you've never met, they expand your world in ways big and small. You've seen pictures of their kids and know what kind of movies and art they like. And they have shared themselves with you. Maybe you never thought about circumcision, or declawing cats, or all the different cocktails that are perfect for summer, or why exactly porn finds its way to children in the woods. But now it's something that you've thought about. Something you've discussed. Something that makes you a person who is a tiny bit smarter about esoteric subjects, and--let's face it--a lot more fun at parties. You're trying new recipes that you've never considered, you're reading books and blogs and hating Comic Sans. You argue better. And not by arguing louder, but by backing up your arguments with facts. And you're open to debate, because your skills have been sharpened, your opinions are focused and deeply held. Day by day, in incremental ways, you find yourself becoming a better person. And without knowing it, you're making others into better people too, because you're sharing yourself with them. And you all grow. And the world becomes a better place. And it happens little by little every day. Because you're a mefite.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 7:43 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]


quiet earth, here's a positive difference you've made in the life of this lurker;

Your post got me to finally join up and donate some dough to try to save this place (yeah I think of Metafilter as a physical place). I've hung around here for 12 years or so, but after reading Matt's plea and your post, I realize that the time for action is now. Thanks for the shove.
posted by Zedcaster at 11:49 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Aw, man. So much heartfelt love sent to every single one of you. I feel humbled and grateful, honestly, to be accepted into your wonderful community, and I share my welcome with other lurkers who just joined (looking at you, Zedcaster! Welcome!). I'm not exaggerating that every kind response will be remembered forever as part of MeFi's generally compassionate fabric of threads and layers of thoughtful responses.

I love this following comment. It is insanely true. God, what a good quote for MeFi.
You know you're a mefite if... you notice that in tiny little ways, you've changed in the past few years. Your world has changed. You're listening to music that is made by people you know, and these people you know, you've never really met, but you know them. You know? And you count them as friends. You refer to them by username or real name or you just say, "This girl I know..." without saying how exactly it is that you know her. And you know about places you've never been--never wanted to go, but now you do because you have friends there. And these friends, these friends you've never met, they expand your world in ways big and small. You've seen pictures of their kids and know what kind of movies and art they like. And they have shared themselves with you. Maybe you never thought about circumcision, or declawing cats, or all the different cocktails that are perfect for summer, or why exactly porn finds its way to children in the woods. But now it's something that you've thought about. Something you've discussed. Something that makes you a person who is a tiny bit smarter about esoteric subjects, and--let's face it--a lot more fun at parties. You're trying new recipes that you've never considered, you're reading books and blogs and hating Comic Sans. You argue better. And not by arguing louder, but by backing up your arguments with facts. And you're open to debate, because your skills have been sharpened, your opinions are focused and deeply held. Day by day, in incremental ways, you find yourself becoming a better person. And without knowing it, you're making others into better people too, because you're sharing yourself with them. And you all grow. And the world becomes a better place. And it happens little by little every day. Because you're a mefite.
Sending love to you guys. Thanks for existing. What a great community you have here.
posted by quiet earth at 2:33 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Two of my favorite sayings are "I'm from the internet, and I'm here to help"

and "never underestimate how even the smallest gestures of kindness can have huge impacts on people, even if you don't realize it."
posted by Jacen at 9:19 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


What a great community you have here.

What a great community we have here, quiet earth. You = us. No us without a bunch of yous.
posted by Mister_A at 11:49 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


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