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.
posted by quiet earth to MetaFilter-Related at 5:37 PM (40 comments total)
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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.