I went to bed half an hour ago and just had to grab my laptop to capture these thoughts.
A member on DP died, I was alerted to it on Saturday. I never heard of Chris, his username didn't ring any bells either but all of a sudden I couldn't stop thinking about that thread. Chris left 3 children and a wife after passing away on Thursday and his wife had taken the effort of logging in on DP to share this awful news. But what struck me, and only hit home just now, was the fact she specifically mentioned how he appreciated being on the forums.
I've been on DP pretty much from the start and I have to admit, I get spells where it all bores me to death, almost to the tune where I get annoyed with it all. Having been there from the start means I've witnessed the endless cycle of new people coming on board, asking the same questions, doing the same things etc. etc. It's quite fascinating in a way. But the vast scale of it nowadays causes me to just take a few months off every now and then. Since leaving uni (where I wasted a lot of time doing student things) I've gotten to realize that life's too short to mess around too much, too short to hang out with losers. And inevitably, in a community of such a scale, there's bound to be hundreds of, or thousands even, losers. Subsequently, as a moderator, you get involved with them, banning them, answering their questions, moving their threads because they couldn't be bothered to stick it where it should have gone etc. Because of that I lost the joy of being part of it and doing all that.
First I got there to learn, then I enjoyed helping others out a lot, returning the favour. But since then there hasn't been much incentive for me to keep doing all those things. It seemed rather pointless to me, cleaning up this never ending stream of garbage and answering what appeared to be the same questions over and over again.
And then someone unknown to me dies and his wife goes out of her way, despite probably having lots of things on her mind, to log on and more or less thank us for creating a place where he enjoyed to hang out. And in that I just realized what a nice place we actually make, in a massive combined effort. 'Outsiders' often laugh when we talk about our forum buddies or about our obsession to keep up to date with what's happening, but most members can probably relate to this Chris guy's enjoyment of our little world.
Unbeknown to me, he had helped build DP with a contribution of 500+ posts. Probably unbeknown to him, I had helped keeping the forums a pleasant place to be by doing the mod stuff I had being doing on and off, though mostly 'on'. So there you go, I all of a sudden realized I helped someone, somewhere enjoy their life better. Now I have a concrete example of an incentive to keep slaving away at it and pay less attention to the bad stuff.
People's lives are being transformed on that forum in many ways, mostly by helping them achieve their goal of quitting the 9 to 5 hell hole and make their living from the comfort of their own nice home. I'm certainly not claiming I'm solely responsible for achieving that for the thousands of members, far from it. But I now realize that taking that time to do the moderating stuff, taking the time to answer that question, explain that situation; all of that matters in a little way. Sometimes in a big way. To someone. And that's a pretty cool realization.
Shame it had to come to mind only when a fellow member passed away...
To Chris and his family! Rock on!