Just wanted to say “hi” to everyone that Imaginatrix sent here!
I was an active member of a specific messageboard for a number of years. What board it is doesn’t matter, though many of you reading probably know. The name doesn’t matter.
It was the messageboard of a popular YA author, though it was really about young people (ok, young women) being empowered. The mission of the board was blatantly feminist though many of the members did not identify as such as it wasn’t “cool” or they were somehow beyond that. But we were empowered, at least in that teeny, tiny part of the vast world wide web. Empowered to engage is discourse about politics and hypothetical questions about “sensitive” issues, and empowered to jump down the throat of anybody who we thought disagreed with us. Empowered to discuss cake, whether we should get our hair cut, and empowered to call people out on real, perceived, or invented bullshit.
That messageboard was really transformative for me, and it watched me grow up. It watched me move out of an abusive childhood, shed a lot of the stuff that came with that, and move on. It saw me through three colleges, four states, coming out as trans, learning to NOT shut up, and eventually it saw me outgrow the boundaries that were there. I was yearning for something more and bigger and it wasn’t where I belonged any longer. I left a year and a couple months ago. As stupid as it sounds it was remarkably painful. I am so grateful that I left.
I left because the community there was incredibly progressive to my 16 year old self. As I became more progressive, more educated, more able to form my own opinions that were informed and true to myself it became less and less progressive. There were a few loud members who made it a point to tell others how they USED to be so “progressive” but then then grew up and became informed. They drove me crazy. There were a few members who were more than happy to throw other members’ emotions and difficulties aside in order to make a point.
I left because of gender stuff. Because people there said some mighty insulting things regarding trans people and by that point I had learned that I did NOT have to sit around and take any bullshit. Heck, it was easy. Click the little red X. So I did.
But that’s not to say that that community never had things to teach me. It did. I learned a lot. In a lot of ways they gave me the strength to learn to stand up for myself and say, “No. This is not what I need.”
In a way it’s really strange, even now, to be going through a big life change without that messageboard to kind of unravel it all on. It was a safe space for a long time. I kind of miss it.