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Saturday, July 17, 2010

My life on the internet, and how it grew...

I'm torn. There's so much of little consequence going on right now, and it's the things of little consequence that usually compel one to stop and mull over someone else's day. My recent experiences on the internet, however, currently trump the weather, the recent "attendance is mandatory" work party, and the truly inventive way Sarah Palin has found to shut Levi Johnson the hell up. All of these in due time though.

Many, many years ago (10, to be exact) a small band of refugees from the Island of Misfit Toys decided that their continual trips to Disneyland (that's the one in California) were getting expensive and decided the best way to handle this was to find a way to make their tickets and/or annual passes tax deductible. So they all got together and decided to merge their little blogs into one great, big, website, which would sell advertising and therefore make their trips a necessary business expense.

This, in theory, seemed like a dandy idea. Like all good websites the set up a discussion board and soon Disney geeks from all over the world saw the star hanging over the little village of Anaheim. And they joined. And they posted and they talked and friendships were formed. And the staff saw their hits go up and their ad rates and dividends (for they were a private corporation, issuing stock in lieu of salary) followed suit. And it was good.

A friend of the hubster's joined and the hubster followed suit. I followed a year later. Ah, but soon there was a rift. A rift of gigantic proportions. One of the founding members took his stock and left, to start a rival site. Unfortunately, when he left he took the only writing talent with him, along with the photographer. So news updates were now being handled to the two most local members of the staff, a couple of women who seriously fancied themselves reporters and steadfastly refused help from anyone who actually HAD any writing talent or credentials. Their hits dropped but...the discussion boards remained hot.

Occasionally, a member was chastised, a cone of shame descended on their member status disguised under the banner of "SUSPENDED". Rarely was a member banned, but it did occasionally happen. For the most part, Disney talk was lively, political talk was lively, vacation talk was lively. It was a lively, supportive place, all of us joined by the thread called Disney. And this was the place we called home.

It would take me three more blogs and a book to describe what happened next. The two local Brenda Starrs on staff found ways to make friends among the denizens of the "Lounge". This was a very nice thing until, gradually, it occurred to their "friends" that they were being used in order to further the retail businesses of these cordial and perky ladies. As checkbooks closed the friends were then gossiped about through private messages and their public personas cold shouldered. And new friends were found who eventually found themselves thrown into the litter by the side of the road and the board chugged on.

Until one day it occurred to people that the volunteers on the staff had all quit. And the actual staff members walked away from the day to day body politic of the message board and left it, lock, stock, and moderating to the Brenda Starr wannabe's who lived in the immediate Disneyland area.

Every person who ended up in the bone pile of former friends ended up on Suspension, or Banned. Every member who did not agree politically with said "Moderators" was regularly suspended, or banned. Once a month or so they would just load a bunch of members into a virtual tumbril and off they went. They fought with each other, at one point they actually SUSPENDED each other. Damn, but it was funny. The hubster was banned. Now everyone knew he got banned because a) I no longer sent $500 a quarter to support a staff member's home based scrapbook supply business and b) we vote Democratic and fight against Prop. 8. It was, actually, fine with me when they banned him, because they'd pretty much suspended everyone else who used to participate in political debate on the left too. So basically they left the right wing to argue amongst themselves, which got pretty boring. And those who weren't suspended or banned have wandered off. However, the big bad mamma moderator likes to argue. And the does so, incessantly. The gist of these arguments is "You're stupid and a liar. Have a nice day".

The hubster, btw, was officially banned because he pointed out in a post that another member was plagiarizing all of his comments. As in "it's a nice thought and you got it here (insert hyperlink)". He was banned for not reporting the plagiarism privately. Sure, whatever, we all know you don't like us and we all knew that you wouldn't have banned anyone from the opposing viewpoint had they pointed out the hubster was plagiarizing (which they couldn't have anyway, he's a professional writer as in "Hi, people PAY me to write" which has always been a thorn in the side of Brenda Starr) but hell, whatever.

Now, the wonderful thing about this was that, in one fell swoop, WE GOT OUR LIVES BACK! It no longer mattered why some gay Mormon, who couldn't put a coherent sentence together with both hands and an open copy of a Strunk and White OR back up any of his sweeping statements of fact with an actual source, thought God hated same sex marriage. We got up in the morning and turned on the news instead of firing up the computers. We found out that a handful of board participants were indeed our friends and remain so.

Now today is Disneyland's anniversary, it opened to the brahmins and the press 55 years ago today. The unwashed masses, btw, weren't allowed in until the 18th, but I digress. It's also the anniversary of said website. So, while Disneyland celebrates a birthday, they decided to celebrate one too. They charged their own members 25 bucks a head to watch a slide show run by some staff member's in-law, a presentation, I have no doubt, for which he will be well the members 25 bucks a head. It was in a local hotel in the vicinity of Disneyland and the hubster, curious as to what both Disneyland AND the website were doing, wandered down there this morning. He found himself in the hotel lobby where he was seen by one of the Brenda Starr wannabe's...the one who tells people I'm a drunk and a psycho because I no longer send two grand a year her way, btw. Well, he availed himself of the hotel's loo and then, walking through the lobby, he stopped for no more than 5 seconds and looked in the wide open doors of a meeting room. THEIR meeting room. He was there long enough for his eyes to adjust and then went elsewhere.

Within five minutes he was approached by hotel staff who told him that his mere presence was disturbing and agitating "many guests" in said slide show and he was, courteously, thrown out. His mere presence on the property was enough to throw the "staff" into such a tizzy they actually reported it to the hotel. I wouldn't be a ALL surprised to find him on a "No Fly" list. Kind of like the aging Henry VIII having to deal with the ghosts of his former wives. And, I personally hope, the headless ghost of Thomas Cromwell. There's a picture: The hubster as some perky Disney obsessed woman's personal Anne Boleyn.

Although they gave us OUR lives back, they appear to have lost their own. By banning members who annoy them they've entered into a business circle of paranoia, always looking, always frightened that someone they screwed will appear when they least expect it.

Living well IS the best revenge...

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