Tribalism

by Jinryu

I signed up for “Life Premium” many years ago, which is why there are no ads on my page, and a few other bonuses.  When Life Premium came out, the promise was clear– you pay us X amount of dollars, and in exchange, we keep this going for you– for life.

Apparently not.

 

I don’t remember why it was that I started up on Xanga, even though in the past I used Blogger… I think I’ve had an online presence since 2000 actually, in some form or another.  I think that the initial attraction of blogging to me was at first because, back then, I wanted to be a professional writer.  That never happened, but I still value the ability to get a thought out in words, and it’s still something I’m working on.  Studying law has had me adopt a different kind of writing style, but as I said, it’s an ongoing process.

In the last few weeks, with talk of Xanga shutting down, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the “Xanga Community” and all that.  But I don’t get that.  That’s nothing special that Xanga offered.  At the end of the day, you are writing the content– Xanga is just an index for what you write.  Xanga is the links between people, but the people are the people.  Xanga doesn’t tell you what to write.  It doesn’t help you write.  Other people help you write.  And I think that, given our tendency to form cliques and to make friends for the exclusion of the others, to define “us” versus “them,” is a human tendency that makes us forget that.  At the end of the day, “we” are no better than “them” and “community” only goes as far as you’re willing to extend your friendship.

When I was younger, it is true that writing helped me to develop a sense of identity.  Writing has been a way for me to go from idealism, cynicism, to nihilism, to reconstruction, and now to here, which is where I am.  I think ideally, most people go through those stages in their writing and in their personalities. 

But for Xanga to suggest that there’s a community, I think that’s kind of bullshit.  More specifically, I think that saying that we need to spend money to save this community is bullshit.

I actually thought about donating 500$ to Xanga for the fundraising thing.  I figured, hey, I’ve been using it for almost a decade– why the hell not. Comes out to less than a dollar a day.

But what, exactly, would I be paying for?

Is it paying for good people? Does Xanga have some exclusivity over the good people I can find here?  Does Xanga make these people good?  Good in person, or good to read?  Really: what does Xanga do?

The more I thought about people and Xanga speak of a sense of community, the more I thought about it, and the more that the whole fundraising thing started to offend me.  What I’m seeing after really thinking about it is a bunch of people who were too stubborn to get with the times when they were clearly changing, and who now want a bailout to do what they should have been doing for years.  It is a bailout, essentially. 

 

All you people who took the time to comment and reply on eachothers message.  All those of you who arranged Xanga meetups.  You did it because of who you are, as individuals, trying to make friends.  Xanga does not do that for you.  Give yourself more credit.

It’s one thing if you tender for money by saying you’re going to offer a service that would otherwise be discontinued.  Fair enough– all products are sold like that.  But what I really resent is this leveraging this idea of “community” where Xanga itself hasn’t created it.  I am not against online communities– but this isn’t some MMORPG where the product actually gives you something to do.  This is a company that has seen the tides changing and has not only decided, too late, to change, but to change to a model that doesn’t work– asking you to pay so that you give your content to build their community.  It is, essentially, claiming credit for the work of people, and trying to charge us in the process.

 

It’s time to smell the evolution, people.  There are tons of services out there that do everything you want it to do.  God forbid you have to learn to deal with change every now and then.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people evolve in their writing styles and their personalities.  And on the other hand, I see some people who dig themselves the deepest of trenches in the worst possible ways– the same mistakes they made 10 years ago are still being repeated. I largely think that the reason why a lot of people stop blogging is because they look back a year, or two or three, and realise that they’re still doing the same things, and still in the same place in life– of course you’d want to stop, because the last thing you need is a journal of non-existent adventures.  You might as well be writing a phone book.

I think that largely, a lot of the “community” that Xanga is trying to appeal to is those kinds of users.  The ones who have invested so much in those walls that, if these fortresses of partisanship were to crumble, they’d be out there naked again, and might actually be forced to think about how they want to do things.

I will admit that when I started out, I was writing because cynicism made me feel like I was smarter than everyone else.  It made me feel good that I was acknowledged for my ability to see things that other people might not notice.  The fact of the matter is, the world is freaking huge– how much more you notice over others directly relates to what demographic of “others” you position yourself in the middle of.  You could talk about rocket science and everyone would think you were smart, until you were put into a room full of rocket scientists– then suddenly, the guy who knows how to poach eggs is the rockstar.

My writing and my personality shifted at some point.  I’m still nitpicky and critical I think, but I am not a cynic.  Actually, I’ve come back to being an idealist.  Everything goes around full circle– what we need to do, I firmly believe, is to find a way to integrate everything we care about into a theory of life, and then integrate our life into that of society around us.  That’s what I call building a community.  Building yourself, and building with others.

I realised that fundamentally, I’ve become entrenched in the way I do things.  Blogging has become a foundation of my life– keeping a journal is something that I’ve managed to discipline myself into doing.  It has been painful to read old blogs at times, and it has also been joyous at other times– but all these things are in the past.  Because blogging has such importance in my lifestyle, the engine that provides it to me has a lot of leverage.  It’s like getting used to having two hands and told suddenly that one of them will have to be cut off and replaced.

 

 

This is the last Xanga I will be posting. I  am specifically not making a bigger deal of it, because to me, this is a logistical change– it doesn’t change what I hope to accomplish as I continue to write. If the transition forces me to change things, then so be it: change is good.

Your community isn’t dying, people.  These people will still be here– the internet will not die overnight, nor will thought and expression.  The bad habit of blogging is to live in the past, and to reminisce and reflect to the point where we lose sight of our futures. You just have to get used to the idea of growing forward.

I am uneasy with Xanga closing down.  But I know I’ve survived things much bigger than this, and that in the end, this is just a convenience of familiarity I’ve come to take for granted.  Life goes on!

To those of you who don’t want to move on, and who might not start new blogs after this– it was nice to meet you guys.  It was nice to read.  Post up something on your blogs telling me where I can follow you in the future.

 

My blogging will continue at:

https://dalniente.wordpress.com/

You can also reach me on gmail or hangouts, where my username is “tcjinryu”

 

Peace out and in!

 

-[Jinryu]

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